TVO Original documentary The Fruit Machine explores a dark chapter in the history of Canada and the LGBTQ+ community

By TVO News - Published on September 18, 2018
Close up of eye, with rainbow flag.
TVO Original The Fruit Machine - World Broadcast Premiere September 29 on TVO and tvo.org

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TVO presents the World Broadcast Premiere of TVO Original documentary The Fruit Machine September 29 at 9 pm ET, and will also be available to stream on tvo.org beginning at the same time. Directed by Sarah Fodey, this important film takes a searing look at a dark chapter of Canada’s history, a time when a campaign was waged against the Canadian LGBTQ+ community in an attempt to remove people from public service.

“The Fruit Machine is a documentary of extraordinary power. It casts a light on a rarely told part of our history, one we hope would never be repeated,” said John Ferri, TVO Vice President of Current Affairs and Documentaries. “Like all TVO Originals, it explores important social, political and culture issues and, at the same time, gives voice to perspectives that don’t always get their due.”

During the cold war, Canada investigated federal employees and members of the Canadian Armed Forces deemed susceptible to blackmail by Soviet spies. Homosexuality was grounds for surveillance and interrogation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police under the directive of the newly-established Security Panel. Over the course of four decades, thousands of men and women had their privacy invaded, their careers ruined, and their lives destroyed because of a “scientific” machine and a disgraceful mandate.

The men and women interviewed in The Fruit Machine, Canadians who dedicated their lives to public service, recount the psychological trauma they suffered, and the deep sense of betrayal they felt both on a personal and political level.

"I want people to leave this documentary angry that this injustice happened, and committed to talking about it in their own communities, says Sarah Fodey. “I also want people to cry and laugh in parts of this film. Many of the survivors have used humour as a way to cope, I suspect. They are magnetic. You want to hear more from them because they make you laugh on the heels of making you cry. It's a beautiful combination.”

The Fruit Machine will have additional broadcast dates on TVO Sunday September 30 at 10 pm, and Wednesday October 3 at 9 pm.

TVO will also present a special screening of The Fruit Machine at the Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto on September 27. The evening will include a panel discussion including director Sarah Fodey and men and women featured in the film. For more information and tickets visit hotdocs.com.

The Fruit Machine is produced by SandBay Entertainment in association with TVO.

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