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“This landing is gonna get pretty interesting.”

“Define “˜interesting’.”

“Oh God, oh God, we’re all going to die?”

If you know where this quote is from then you, my friend, are a probably a Browncoat. If you’re not familiar with this quote then you probably don’t know what a Browncoat is either. If the latter is true, never fear, because on Saturday June 18 the answers to both of these questions will become clear at this year’s annual Can’t Stop the Serenity, a charity screening of Joss Whedon’s beloved sci-fi classic Serenity .

Serenity is the follow up to Joss Whedon’s space adventure series Firefly which, after only one season on Fox, was canceled; much to the dismay of a large and loyal fan base. Released in 2005 Serenity tells the story of Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and his crew of interstellar miscreants as they travel the “˜Verse in their spaceship named Serenity, getting mixed up in all manner of trouble. Serenity the film, created as a cap for the abruptly canceled Firefly , was essentially a film for the fans. It was their pressure on Fox which gave the franchise new life and allowed Whedon to tell the tale he didn’t get the chance to tell on television. The result is a film of such quick wit, high adventure and sci-fi goodness that it left the rabid fans even hungrier and longing for more.

So, in 2006, fans of the series, known as Browncoats (alluding to the uniform worn by the rebels in Firefly and Serenity history, who fought for independence), decided to have a screening of the film on Whedon’s birthday and donate the proceeds to Equality Now, a charity which promotes equality for women around the world. That year, the Toronto Browncoats had their own screening and have been doing it annually ever since. This year marks the sixth year of the event and leading the Browncoat’s charge is Mel Fischer, head of the organization committee. Despite her frantic schedule I got to talk to her about Can’t Stop the Serenity which she calls, “A small movement that has had huge consequences.” Since it’s inception, the event has been held in over 50 cities worldwide and has raised over $550,000 for its chosen charity. The event coordinators and everyone involved are 100% volunteer and give their own time because of the their devotion to the cause and the love of the film. Over the years the attendance for the event has risen steadily, a fact that Fischer is proud of especially when you consider that last year’s event was held during the riotous G20 conference in Toronto.

This year’s Can’t Stop the Serenity is being held at the Toronto Underground Cinema located at 186 Spadina Avenue, a venue Fischer is enthusiastic about. “The guys who run the cinema are really great and they have a geek affinity themselves. One of them is even a Browncoat himself. They are extremely excited to have us there.” The doors open at 12:30 and the film begins at 1:15. The organization committee has even acquired a 35 mm print of the film for the big event.

Immediately following the film, there is also an auction offering unique and rare items created and donated by local craftspeople and artists. These items, made specifically to tie into the series and the film, are collectables that no serious Browncoat should be without.   A complete list of donors and artists can be found at the Browncoat’s website.  Fischer is excited by one piece in particular, a stained glass Serenity logo by local artist Velvet Mae. “An item I am going to bid on myself,” Fischer admits. Other artists and sponsors include Pixel Barrel, Firefly Cargo Bay, FutureCon, and of course Ma Cobb’s Hat Shoppe. “This year we’ve tried to focus on the local crafts people,” Fischer adds. “People are excited to get something that is handmade. That you can’t just get manufactured anywhere.” Each of the items offered are available for perusal on the Toronto Browncoats website.

This event is not to be missed and you can get your tickets ahead of time for $12 at using PayPal or a credit card. Or you can get tickets at the door for $15. Although the event centers around the screening of one of Sci-fi’s best films you do not have to be there to make a donation to Equality Now. You can simply purchase a ticket online or make a donation using the “˜Donate’ button on the website.

Browncoats are serious about charity and are also serious about parties, which they refer to as “˜Shindigs’, and Saturday will be no exception. After the film and auction there will be a Shindig held at Alice Fazooli’s at 294 Adelaide Street West. Everyone is welcome to join them, “We have a dinner together and have some drinks and just continue the party.” Fischer explains.

Why does Fischer think people should come out for the event? “There’s nothing better than sitting and watching the film together with a room full of Browncoats who are just as much of a fan as you are. At the same time you’re helping out Equality Now.” Even if you are new to the film come out anyway. “You’ll have a really great time with really great people. Browncoats are the best people around,” Fischer says with pride. Upon leaving the theatre you will not only be familiar with the quote that leads off this article but you will be chock full of other quotable favorites as well, and if you were not already a Browncoat at heart you will surely be one when you experience this film and you will agree that you just Can’t Stop The Serenity.

Can’t Stop the Serenity Toronto

Saturday, June 18th, 2011
The Toronto Underground Cinema
186 Spadina Avenue, Toronto
Doors Open: 12:30PM, Movie Starts: 1:15PM