Photo: Chris Blanchette

The fall of Yustin Yandler

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A tall, lanky man—totally naked if not for the Swedish flag around his waist—was surrounded by overturned tables and broken beer bottles. It was Sept. 14 and Toronto police were responding to a public disturbance call at the Ram in the Rye.

“Everybody get away from me! Don’t look at me,” the man said in a thick Scandinavian accent. The flag was dangerously close to lowering to half-mast. “I’m Yustin. Fucking. Yandler. Indie film superstar!”

Yustin played a one-man game of “the floor is lava” on the remaining tables to escape the cops, but slipped on a vegan quinoa burger and was caught. When the scene cleared, Ram staff began to pick up the hundreds of doilies on the ground. He was charged with public indecency, misuse of a beloved childhood game and being Swedish.

For years, Yustin Yandler was the talk of the Swedish indie film town. His starring debut in box-office-registered movie Kung Fu Dreaming of You garnered him moderate praise and some approval from his mother. He went on to star in What a Sunset, Mr. President as Assistant No. 2 and The Cowgirl Dies at Midnight, where his portrayal as the jagged Cow that yearns for love won him a mention on Twitter.

But Yustin wasn’t satisfied with his staggering level of fame. He wanted more. After a short and unsuccessful stint as part of hard-rock power group, Final Yustination, Yustin set his eyes on directing his own film— that’s when it all went wrong.

Kung Fu Dreaming of You 7: The Last Kung Fu-marai was set to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and Yustin was excited to show off his directorial debut. Everything was going well—nobody hijacked his plane, he smuggled in some sweet Swedish chocolate-flavoured herring and he was set to start his press tour.

Yearning for attention, he stopped at The Eyeopener, Ryerson’s independent student newspaper, for his first and only stop on the tour. Arts & life editor Otto Ornonlo saw the trailer for the film and knew she had to be the first to cover it. “It was so funny. They were speaking Swedish! How hilarious,” Otto said.

He was the star and model for their cover. It was set to be his first interview ever, and the pressure just got to his head. Reporters said that Yustin was exhibiting Gwyneth Paltrow levels of personal difficulty.

“He was just so rude during the whole process,” said The Eyeopener’s business and technology editor Justin Chandler, famously known for his prestigious reviews of the film James and the Giant Peach. Justin was tasked with shadowing Yustin for most of his trip to Ryerson. “He doesn’t like peaches. Not even giant ones! I tried to give him one and he threw it at me. What a guy. Has he even watched James and The Giant Peach? He should. Great movie.”

Yustin felt confident about his premiere later that night. The dozens of fans in the photo filled him with confidence about the success of his project. Little did he know, every single person in the shot was a model and only doing it as a favour to the Eye’s editors.

“This is going to be your most popular cover of the year!” Yustin shouted. “I’ll see you peasants at my premiere, if you can get in line early enough. It’ll be a hit.”

It wasn’t. It was not a hit at all. Kung Fu Dreaming of You 7: The Last Kung Fu-marai tanked. Yustin’s artistic choice of replacing all dialogue and character development with various screams of “AHHYEAAAAHHHHH” did not work in the slightest.

Devastated at the poor reception of his film, Yustin called his agent for comfort. It was then he found out he had been dropped from all future projects, was fired from all ongoing projects and would not be provided with a plane trip back to Sweden. Furious and devastated at the news, Yustin ripped off all his clothes, put on his Swedish flag, walked into the Ram and went on the most voracious bender this side of the Atlantic Ocean has ever seen.

Locked up at Toronto police headquarters, Yustin is beginning to see the error of his ways. “It’s hard to be me. One day you’re on top of the Scandinavian indie film world. The next you look around and say, ‘Where has my human decency gone?’”

Three weeks later, Yustin has been tentatively released from prison. As part of his probation and recovery, he’s been tasked with writing advice columns for The Eyeopener, where he currently lives in their archive room. “I’m not going to make movies any- more, but have you guys seen this show Storage Wars? It’s amazing!”

Check out Yustin’s zany advice columns every week or tweet at him at @AskYustin.

In the printed edition of this story (issue 5, volume 50), Yustin Yandler was depicted wearing a keffiyeh—a Palestinian scarf symbolic to the cause of Palestinian resistance. It has been brought to our attention that the image used cultural appropriation and conveyed a politically controversial message. A previous version of this story also included a sentence that was racially insensitive. The Eyeopener regrets these errors. 

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