TIFF – Hey Viktor! Review by Adrian Jacobs (warning: this review has spoilers!)

Cody Lightning (writer, producer, actor, director), Hannah Cheeseman (actor, producer), Samuel Miller (co-writer), and Simon Baker (actor) – photo by Adrian Jacobs © 2023

Smoke Signals 2: Still Smokin’ was never to be, but Cody Lightning made us die laughing! As a child actor Cody played young Victor in the 1998 multiple award winning movie Smoke Signals. Spicy language made an old white couple leave a screening of Hey Viktor, according to Cody, but our crowd for the Canadian premier at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) 2023 Sunday, September 10 got every joke of our NDN humour!

It was a full house with spontaneous applause throughout the movie and also after remarks by Cody Lightning. Nearly every native jokester I know, and even sober ones, has their own, “Hey Victor! I heard…” impression. Hey Viktor! is a mockumentary telling the story of Cody Lightning attempting to revive his career with a sequel to Smoke Signals. Viktor replaces Victor because Cody didn’t get the trademark movie character or sequel rights, as explained by an Indigenous studio executive in a “to the camera aside” that we laughed at. I love the overall mocking of Hollywood.

Adam Beach’s really bad wig in Smoke Signals has a cameo role in Hey Viktor! The wigs in Smoke Signals always stood out to me for how bad they were. Anyone who has seen the movie had a good laugh. Since Cody couldn’t get Adam for his movie his wig would do! Adam appears in Cody’s drunken gambling hallucination and gives him the sage advice that turns him around.

Even the white “Cherokee” pretendian gets mocked, but not in a harsh way, as the identity gatekeepers do. Cody’s assistant who finds out why her name is Kate Columbo! She is a true ally who really loves Cody, even past all his self-destructive ways. The raucous solution to Cody’s failure to do a Smoke Signals sequel involves a scene of Zombie Priests that cannot be missed!

Simon Baker, who played young Victor in the 1998 movie, is the daughter of my friend Glenda Klassen. Glenda is Cree from Saskatchewan. She is married to my Mennonite friend Darryl Klassen. I have enjoyed visiting with Darryl and Glenda and knew of her acting skills. I then learned Simon was her son and met him at their home in Langley, BC. It was good to say hello again to Simon at TIFF 2023!

Hey Viktor! has been bought by a distributor so here’s to screenings all across Turtle Island and awards to come!

Simon Baker (young Victor in Smoke Signals)


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