A Winter Tan
A Winter Tan (Directed by Jackie Burroughs, Louise Clark, John Walker, John Frizzell & Aerlyn Weissman)
Introduced by Gary Burns
Friday, January 21, 2011 at 7:30 PM
Based on the writings of Maryse Holder, posthumously published as Give Sorrow Words, this articulate and passionate film is a first person account of Maryse, a self destructive woman who looks for romance and freedom in Mexico but finds mostly just sex. As she accumulates an astonishing list of conquests, she chronicles each experience and emotion in a series of explicit letters to her best friend Edith. One of Canada’s greatest actresses, the late Jackie Burroughs gives a brutally honest performance as a woman looking deep into her soul and taking herself to a dark place.
From Uptown Magazine January 20, 2010
Weird subjects and frustrating accents
Celebrated Calgary filmmaker Gary Burns comes to town to talk screenwriting and milestones in Canadian cinema
It wasn’t easy for Gary Burns to pick his favourite Canadian film.
“I thought about it for a week,” laughs the writer/director of Canadian indies waydowntown (2000) and A Problem with Fear (2003), the latter of which plays Cinematheque on Saturday.
In the 2001 book Weird Sex & Snowshoes, this supposed “lone wolf” confided he didn’t even go to films
“That was a long time ago,” he says, laughing again. “When my son was born, I wasn’t getting out.” He admits to never being a “super cinephile,” though. And to being a bit out of the loop when it comes to recent Canadian dramas.
This doesn’t equal unfamiliarity with Canadian cinema, however — it was merely a problem of which title to single out for the latest in Cinematheque’s Cinema Lounge series, which highlights seminal Great North films.
Burns’ choice? 1987’s A Winter Tan, starring Canadian actor Jackie Burroughs (The Grey Fox, The Dead Zone), who died in September. A rare 35mm print will be screened Friday; Burns will introduce it personally.
“Its style is almost docudrama,” Burns says of the film, which concerns a woman’s quest for romance that yields sex but little intimacy. “It looks like it had a small crew and they shot wherever they wanted.”
It’s precisely that loose quality that struck Burns about early-’90s films such as Slacker. “Seeing ‘rougher’ films, especially in a theatre, was eye-opening when I went to film school.
“Indie films like that showed you could make a film with limited means. The hardest part remained the writing — but even that was easier through more episodic storytelling.”
What’s truly hard is making films in Canada. “It’s competitive, and tough to find money for films that aren’t going to be fun,” he says.
It’s also hard, he says, to make films that are identifiably Canadian.
“I was always thinking, how can I sell my movie in the States? But of course, American audiences want their Americanism — so although we didn’t hide that the city in waydowntown is Calgary, we weren’t explicit about it, either.”
But what of recent films such as Chloe and Barney’s Version, set unabashedly in Toronto and Montreal, respectively? “Um, I stayed away from those,” Burns laughs, reflecting some of that iconoclastic rep.
He also hasn’t read any of screenwriting teacher Syd Field’s books, such as the classic Screenplay, but that’s not stopping him from conducting a scriptwriting workshop — his first — this weekend at The Black Lodge, upstairs from Cinematheque. As for A Problem with Fear, he hasn’t even seen it in years. “So that should be interesting,” he says.
Also interesting is Burns’ own idiosyncratic choice in subject matter: A Problem with Fear concerns a young man who thinks his phobias are causing widespread chaos. Burns’ upcoming drama, The Future is Now!, remakes a French doc about a man who can’t adjust to the modern world.
That frustration with circumstance characterizes Burns as well. “When casting, I fight Canadian accents,” he says. “There’s something about them that really bugs me.”
So, it’s not just about marketing.
– Kenton Smith