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Film about Waterloo, Ont.'s BlackBerry premieres in Berlin

Ottawa-born Jay Baruchel portrays RIM co-founder Mike Lazaridis in "BlackBerry." (Submitted/Elevation Pictures.) Ottawa-born Jay Baruchel portrays RIM co-founder Mike Lazaridis in "BlackBerry." (Submitted/Elevation Pictures.)
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A movie about the rise and fall of Waterloo, Ont.’s Research in Motion (RIM) and its most famous creation, the Blackberry, made its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival Friday.

Directed by Toronto-born filmmaker Matt Johnson, "Blackberry," stars Jay Baruchel as RIM’s co-founder Mike Lazaridis and Glenn Howerton as the company’s co-CEO, Jim Balsillie.

Cary Elwes, from left, Jay Baruchel, Glenn Howerton and director Matt Johnson pose for photographers at the photo call for the film 'BlackBerry' during the International Film Festival Berlin 'Berlinale', in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Feb. 17, 2023. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)

The film was largely shot in Hamilton with some scenes in Waterloo region and making a movie that felt authentically Canadian was important to its creators.

“For Jay and I, we tried to keep everything as local as we could,” Johnson told reporters following the film’s premiere in Berlin. “We worked with a Canadian crew, all the people in key roles on the film were my close friends who I’d grown up with.”

Johnson and co-writer Matthew Miller adapted the screenplay from the non-fiction book “Losing the Signal: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of BlackBerry," written by Globe and Mail reporters Sean Silcoff and Jacquie McNish.

Research In Motion co-CEOs Jim Balsillie (left) and Mike Lazaridis talk to media after an Ontario Securities Commission hearing in Toronto, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

Johnson said while no one portrayed in the film, including Balsillie or Lazaridis, agreed to participate in its making, he talked to several ex-RIM employees, mostly from the 90s and mid-2000s, whose contributions informed the script.

“One in particular came through in a huge way,” Johnson said. [He] kept a diary and a journal and gave me everything he had captured while he was working there.”

"BlackBerry" will hit theatres on April 28.

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