Fairy Tales, Myths and Poetry: The Cinema of Patricia Rozema
Saturday, November 7 at 7:00PM
Introduced by Patricia Rozema and with Q & A hosted by Brenda Austin Smith
I’ve Heard The Mermaids Singing
Introduced by Patricia Rozema
Sunday, November 8 at 4:00PM
Also, Patricia Rozema will introduce Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter on Friday, November 6 at 7:00PM. This screening is FREE.
The Winnipeg Film Group welcomes to Winnipeg the acclaimed Canadian director Patricia Rozema, one of Canada’s most accomplished and internationally recognized filmmakers. At the 1987 Cannes Film Festival, I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing won the coveted Prix de la jeunesse making Rozema one of Canada’s first female filmmakers to win serious international acclaim.
Rozema has created a large body of feature and television work including I’ve Heard The Mermaids Singing, White Room, When Night is Falling and Mansfield Park. More recently Patricia directed Kit Kittredge: An American Girl and was nominated for an Emmy Award for co-writing on the TV movie Grey Gardens, which won an Outstanding Emmy Award as a made for television movie. In Grey Gardens (named after the Maysles’ documentary Grey Gardens), Drew Barrymore plays Edith ‘Little Edie’ Beale.
Saturday, November 7 at 7:00PM
“Patricia Rozema’s daring, gorgeous interpretation of Jane Austen’s MANSFIELD PARK shuns vapors and swooning in favour of the author’s satirical commentary upon class and her times. What Rozema has done is alter the nature of the book’s insufferable protagonist, Fanny Price, by pulling from Austen’s journals and writings and injecting some conviction, chutzpah and outspoken rebelliousness into a heroine who has been termed “a monster of complacency. Fanny is, as a child called to Mansfield Park by her aunt, Lady Bertram to work as a servant in the huge ramshackle estate. Sir Thomas Bertram owns Mansfield Park and, over time, he and his large brood look upon Fanny as one of their own. They watch her grow into a sturdy young woman who has a keen imagination, a wilful spirit and a secret love for her cousin, Edmund Bertram. Mansfield Park is a more daring, radically darker, and even naughtier version than the 1983 miniseries.” – Paula Nechak (Seattle Post Intelligencer)
“Intelligence and beauty –and teasing romance –shape Mansfield Park into a gorgeous, enchanting experience. This may be the first film that truly captures Jane Austen’s characters in flesh and bone.” – Peter Stack (San Francisco Chronicle)
Sunday, November 8 at 4:00PM
I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing
Patricia Rozema’s feature film debut was invited to the Director’s Fortnight in Cannes and won the coveted “Prix de la Jeunesse” at Cannes in 1987 where it received a lengthy ten minute standing ovation. Winner of dozens of awards around the world it was also voted “Top Ten Canadian Films of All Time” by a group of international critics. A critical and commercial success, the film features a terrific performance by actress Sheila McCarthy as a socially inept temporary secretary named Polly and the tale of her fascination with the church gallery’s worldly art curator Gabrielle St. Peres and her girlfriend Mary Joseph (played by novelist/actress/playwright Anne Marie MacDonald) – a maker of magically glowing paintings. Polly’s story is told in the form of a self confession, taped on video. The film’s title is drawn from T.S. Eliot’s poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing is a serious comedy about a socially inept Girl Friday, completed for only $250,000.
From UPTOWN Magazine November 5, 2009:
Writing good images
Filmmaker Patricia Rozema will share tips on making memorable movies
Writing good imagesWhen she was just 28, former journalist-turned-filmmaker Patricia Rozema’s life changed. Her first feature film, 1987′s I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (screening on Oct. 8 at 4 p.m.), made with the meager budget of $250,000, was selected to screen at Cannes, arguably the world’s most prestigious film festival. (The film would win the Le Prix de la jeunesse prize, an award established in 1982 for exceptional films made by young directors.)
In more recent years, the Sarnia, Ont.-born Rozema has directed everything from family fare such as Kit Kittredge: An American Girl to Mansfield Park, a subversive Jane Austen adaptation co-starring Harold Pinter (Nov. 7, 7 p.m.). She scripted a narrative based on a renowned Maysles Brothers’ documentary (Grey Gardens) and she helmed some of the most sexually frank television ever made to date (the initial episodes of HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me).
Rozema will be in town on Nov. 7 for a master class at 10 a.m. on writing and directing – or, judging from her answers in the following Q&A, writing by directing.
Uptown: Even though you didn’t grow up watching films, do you recall what films first spoke to you?
Rozema: I remember being stunned by Ingmar Bergman’s work in a small gallery in Grand Rapids with my philosopher professor boyfriend, thinking, “Oh my God, I had no idea that movies could be like this.” I was intrigued by them but didn’t jump to thinking that I could just make them. But I loved the idea of just telling stories, so I went into journalism, figuring, “Real stories: what could be better?” But then I got frustrated that you couldn’t make the real stories into the stories that you wanted them to be.
What led you to make I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing?
Once I lost my job at the CBC, I was liberated. I went on unemployment insurance and wrote for a straight year. I got rejected seven times, but wrote my first short (Passion: A Letter in 16mm), got it financed for $35, 000, won a couple of prizes, got sneered at in a couple of places, and then decided that this could be painful if you get bad reviews. But, I realized that if I can get away with it, what a great job it could be. And then I had the reaction for my first effort (at Cannes) – and I couldn’t possibly dream of anything more.
Your career seems to jump around a bit. You do everything from features to television.
That’s due to there being a lot of different economies in movies – and even those are shifting constantly. There’s the festival-film economy, the Hollywood economy, the high-end, HBO-comedy category, and I try to travel my way through them, when I can.
What can people expect from your master class?
What I’d like to pass on is what I think is pivotal to filmmaking: writing good images and directing good images. People always talk about the story of a film, and that’s very important, too, but if the story allows something pivotal that is visual and physical, then the story has a much more magnificent bounce to it… What most attracts me are those key images that reinforce the whole structure, the whole story and the whole point. And if you can get a couple of those into a film, then it’ll no doubt have legs.
- Aaron Graham