As the subject of a documentary premiere, as well as a mobile sculpture display and a public re-enactment, the iconic photograph Lunch atop a Skyscraper is being brought to life this year at TIFF.
Taken in 1932, Lunch atop a Skyscraper depicts 11 workmen taking their lunch break on an iron beam in the Manhattan sky during the construction of the GE building. Since then, the image has become the world’s most requested and reprinted photograph, widely loved for its surreal composition and the casual daring of its subjects.
Featured as part of the TIFF Docs programme, the Irish documentary Men at Lunch delves into the story of the photograph, which has previously remained a mystery. To commemorate the film’s North American premiere, Toronto will play host to two reincarnations of the original image.
Yesterday, Sergio Furnari’s sculpture Lunch atop a Skyscraper, which reenvisions the photograph in life-size form, arrived in Toronto. Attached to the back of a truck, the sculpture will be traveling the streets of the city over the course of the festival. Italian-born and now based in New York, Furnari has taken the sculpture on road trips through the US – now, lucky Torontonians and visitors to the city may be able to catch a glimpse.
On Wednesday afternoon, the public was also invited to participate in a re-enactment of the photo at Yonge-Dundas Square [pictured]. The event was organized with the support of Toronto Ironworkers Local 721, whose members have helped construct parts of Toronto’s own iconic skyline, such as the CN Tower.
In Men at Lunch, director Seán Ó Cualáin meticulously studies the original Lunch atop a Skyscraper, exploring the identities of the workmen and the photographer as he seeks to answer questions about the image’s authenticity. In the process, he unearths possible ties to the small Irish town of Shanaglish in some of the workers’ heritage, contributing to the rich history of the role of immigrants in the American experience.
Men at Lunch premieres at the Cineplex Yonge & Dundas 9 today [Friday] 9pm, followed by screenings tomorrow and on Sept 14.