Noam Gonick on Susan Sarandon's Jewels

May 23, 2022
Originally posted on

On the night of May 11, 2022, Abi Torquato and Damien Ferland visited filmmaker/artist Noam Gonick and his boyfriend Michael Walker (the Instagram celebrity) in their palatial rent-controlled apartment overlooking Manitoba’s Legislative grounds and Golden Boy. 

Gonick famously brought the Indian Posse to the Venice Film Festival with his film, “Stryker,” and immortalized the Winnipeg rave scene in his astro-camp classic, “Hey, Happy!” 

In between attacks on the visitors by Aladdin, the territorial Yorkie, the following interview was recorded...

Abi: “Why is no one doing a film about Susan Sarandon’s stolen jewelry while she was here in 2003 filming ‘Shall We Dance’?”

Noam: “I read an un-produced screenplay about the incident written by Pearl, a talented screenwriter.”

Damien: “Would Susan play herself?”

Noam: “She was asked about it, apparently, and she laughed, saying it would be a great idea.”

Abi: “Unbelievable. Needs to be a film.”

Noam: “It’s called ‘Susan Sarandon's Jewels.’ It all takes place on Canada Day. It's a bit of a gay love story gone wrong. Cannibalism. Susan Sarandon was filming in the Legislature across the street, and some guy walked into her trailer because Winnipeg is so easygoing that anybody wandering the Leg grounds can pop into a Hollywood actress' trailer.”

Abi: “It was just open?”

Noam: “Yeah. And he saw the mannequin heads with wigs on them. And there was all of her costume jewelry, right? So, he scooped it all up and went to the Woodbine Hotel, bragging, with Canada Day fireworks going off. He met this guy interested in the jewels and invited him over to his hotel room at the Royal Albert. That’s when the jewel thief got chopped up in the bathtub.”

Abi: “What the fuck?”

Noam: “And eaten. My theory is that the jewelry—they thought it was real and worth millions—drove them to insanity."

Abi: “What are you working on right now?‍”

Noam: “Michael and I finished a film about the Golden Boy called ‘Purple City.’ This room we’re in right now was used in our film as the Parisian studio where the sculptor created the statue. And this table with Michael’s stripper pole was the sculptor’s easel where all the models representing the different body parts of the Golden Boy revealed their backstories. The TV network funding us can’t broadcast it because there’s swear words, prostitution and drug use, but, I mean, who watches TV anymore? Our producer, Ryan Simmons, is planning an incredible world premiere for the film, which also delves into the ritual of ‘Purple City,’ where teenagers dropped acid on the Legislative grounds.”

Damien: “I didn't know that acid was involved. I thought you just had to stare into the lights.”

Abi: “I did it when I was 15. It's your rite of passage, really. It was a big deal in Winnipeg.”

Damien: “I had no friends.”

Abi: “Let's go to Purple City.”

Noam: “I just got an idea for a new film. I wanted Damien to move in with Jerry, our 91-year-old gay bachelor friend who needs 24-hour care and has a spare bedroom. This guy is a legend: he produced the first rock concert in Winnipeg and was Liberace's tour manager. But we weren't quick enough. He went into hospital yesterday.”

Abi: “You killed him, Damien.”

Noam: “No, he just sprained his ankle. The film idea is ‘You Can't Take It With You,’ which is a title that's already been used, but we can use it again.”

Damien: “It was a great film.”

Noam: “Ours would be too...Jerry’s Grindr profile heading is: “You Can't Take It With You.” I took the photo for it yesterday while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. In the film, Jerry decides that he's going to get medically-assisted suicide. But he's got investments and savings. He wants to spend the last months of his life having a party. On his profile, he says: “help me spend this money,” then all these characters come out of the woodwork to take advantage of the situation. He was into younger men and he’d barter show tickets for, you know..."

Abi: “Holy shit. Honestly. Amazing.”

Damien: “Yeah, it's a great idea.‍”

Abi: “I worked at a convalescent home, and my first shift, literally, someone died and I had to put on the toe tag and call the stretcher. I was 20. I saw rigor mortis set in.”

Damien: “Should we talk about your current project?”

Noam: “Yeah, sure. We’re filming a drama about a double kidnapping, based on a true story. We've been working with a lot of the real people whose lives were affected by the incident. It focuses on a 14-year-old Indigenous guy’s experience of what he thought was going to be a pleasurable road trip with a new friend, meeting a 10-year-old Saskatchewan farm boy along the way, and setting off the first Amber alert in Western Canada. When the Indigenous teen went missing, the police thought he was a runaway. When the police found them, the younger boy was released, but the teenager stayed with his kidnapper for a standoff. Eight or ten hours.”

Abi: “Holy shit.”

Noam: “The media broadcast innuendo that he was in cahoots or an accessory to the crime and he was actually arrested—it took the RCMP a moment to figure out that he was a victim too. When he came home, some people painted him in a negative light. He’s had a difficult time since then.”

Abi: “Oh, my god.”

Noam: “It's heavy, for sure.”

Abi: “These are stories that I want to watch. And I'm not alone. They're amazing.”