A new documentary captures the culture of a Peterborough bar that had a special place in locals’ hearts for the past 152 years.
“There are two types of people: [Those] that know The Pig’s Ear and loved it, and there’s the people I think who will lament not having met The Pig’s Ear when they see the film,” says director Peter Blow of his documentary The Last Beer at the Pig’s Ear.
“It was our way of giving a portrait of Peterborough.”
Within 48 hours of the January announcement of the closure of local fixture The Pig’s Ear, producer Malcolm Byard had the idea to tell the tavern’s story for his master’s degree at Staffordshire University in England. Byard’s thesis centers around the idea that communities can tell stories in Canada without the aid of traditional funding methods or agencies.
“Really nobody is telling these stories,” Byard says. “This is an anthropological study of something that is going away in Canada and throughout the world, so the story of the closing of The Pig’s Ear should resonate with other communities.”
The crew shot 86 hours of footage at the Pig’s Ear Tavern up until the last day it was open, on Apr. 22. They captured reunions of people visiting from various cities who shared their fond memories of “the Piggy.”
The Pig’s Ear was also a big part of the local music community. The film captures 42 live performances and one full song composed specifically for the documentary.
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“Peter had this idea that he wanted the bar to have its own character, and that the music should reflect that character because it’s a character that obviously doesn’t have any words, so it’s finding the sounds that would represent the bar,” said composer Bruno Merz.
A “rough-cut” screening of The Last Beer at the Pig’s Ear will take place Friday at 6:30 and 9 p.m. at Market Hall, along with a fundraiser to help the documentary’s crew complete the film. A $20 online donation via the film’s website gets you on the guest list for Friday’s screening.
“There’s lots of laughs and tears, the whole works,” Blow said. “It’s not your regular documentary.”