Interview with Acclaimed MIGHTY JEROME Filmmaker, Charles Officer

Interview with Acclaimed MIGHTY JEROME Filmmaker, Charles Officer

From acclaimed filmmaker Charles Officer comes the story of the rise, fall and redemption of Harry Jerome, Canada's most record-setting track and field star. Gorgeous monochrome imagery, impassioned interviews and astonishing archival footage are used to tell the triumphant and compelling story of what Harry Jerome's own coach called "the greatest comeback in track and field history."  Canada Screens' Alexandra Staseson interviewed acclaimed filmmaker Charles Officer about his process making the film, and why it's relevant today years later and in the times of 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio.

Rent The Film Here Today here:

Interview with Acclaimed MIGHTY JEROME Filmmaker, Charles Officer

Q: Your acclaimed film, Mighty Jerome, is the triumphant and compelling story of what Harry Jerome's own coach called "the greatest comeback in track and field history." When did you first hear about/ discover the story of Harry Jerome? Had you always been aware of his incredible story?

A: I knew very little about Harry Jerome before making the film. I first learned about Jerome when I accompanied a former girlfriend to the annual Harry Jerome Awards in 2002. I understood that he was a great athlete, but didn’t know the depth of his story. When producer Selwyn Jacob at the National Film Board of Canada approached me about the project, it came to the surface that Jerome’s story was one he wanted to bring to the screen for many years. Selwyn was interviewing directors for the project and I was certain I wouldn’t be chosen.


Q: As an artist and creative storyteller, you must hear a lot of interesting, inspiring and even awesome (in the literal definition) stories. And as filmmaker, certainly you have an ear open for your ‘next film’…  When and why did you know, that you must bring to the screen the story of Harry Jerome?

A: It was during the development stage that I became obsessed with Jerome’s story and it had to be realized for the screen. I was taken aback by the racist treatment Jerome had to endure in Canada. The notion Canadians are sold, is that our racial issues are nothing like it is in America. The comparative does not eliminate systemic racism or evolve our compassion for humanity. I immediately felt the film could serve as a conversation point for Canadian black youth struggling with the same issues Jerome faced in the 60’s and 70’s.


Q: With the complexity of issues, arguments and celebrations around the globe this day and age, and with the new Summer Olympics upon us now, Rio 2016. How is Mighty Jerome relevant and important to the current conversations?

A: Jerome was just 19-years-old when he became a serious Olympic contender in 1959. Three years later, a debilitating leg injury threatened to cut his athletic career short. It is a story about a Canadian track and field star of color, whose fierce determination to persevere staged an astonishing comeback during an era of intense social and political turbulence. As Harry Jerome inspired an entire nation, many athletes competing in Rio 2016 like Penny Oleksiak will emerge to accomplish the same.


Q: There is a saying, “Life is what happens when we are busy making other plans…” Many documentary filmmakers I’ve spoken with talk about ‘starting with an inspiration and idea about the story they wanted to tell, but then, during production, the ‘real story’ begins to unfold. Were there aspects to your storytelling that changed or emerged as your production unfolded?

A:The one main question I struggled with that was critical to answer in the writing process: How do I tell a story about a person who is not alive, who cannot tell their own story? I needed others to tell the story, but more importantly bring the subject alive. I created a detailed treatment that was over 100 pages long, like I do with fiction. But ultimately, it was the moments spent talking with Jerome’s family, close friends and coaches that informed how the story would unfold.


Q: As a filmmaker, how did the process of making Mighty Jerome differ from your past work in feature narratives?


A: The main difference for me working in fiction features and non-fiction with Mighty Jerome was research, research and more research. I was dealing with a real human life for the first time as a filmmaker, not someone I imagined and shaped on a page. That requires a different skillset that I had to develop through trial and errors. How to engage and discuss sensitive issues, gain trust and create an environment that inspires real conversations.


Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your process in discovering footage, photographs, and the visual elements that would then make up this story? Working with the family, etc.…. 
Finding interview subjects…


A: The first source material I got my hands on was the book by Fil Fraser, Running Uphill that Selwyn Jacobs optioned. It was from the book that I made contact with family and friends of Harry Jerome. But when I met Wendy Jerome (wife), she presented me with five large-sized photo albums filled with newspaper articles and photographs of her former husband and track and field superstar. Jerome’s victories and defeats were thoroughly documented in black and white. I was blown away by what Wendy kept all these years, from Harry’s starting blocks to his track shoes. I became obsessed with collecting a momentous amount of black and white archival material, and that became the visual language for the film creatively.


Q: How much on-location shooting did you do within the areas where Harry Jerome lived, ran, competed etc.?

A: The majority of the film was shot on location in Vancouver where Jerome grew up and frequented in his youth like Brockton Oval. A different gallery-installation set was curated with large scaled images and memorabilia in Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton where we collected conversations with character subjects. Each location was designed to stimulate an emotional reaction from family and friends who participated in the film. It was a lot of work, but worth it. We filmed in Eugene, Oregon where he attended Oregon University and trained under Nike founder and legendary track coach Bill Bowerman. The deep and historic track and field culture in Eugene has labeled the small city “Track Town U.S.A.”


Q: What are you currently working on? Any exciting details to reveal about your new NFB project?

A: I recently completed my second feature documentary with the National Film Board. Unarmed Verses is a vivid portrait of a community facing imposed relocation. At the centre is a remarkably astute and luminous 12-year-old girl whose poignant observations about life, the soul, and the power of art give voice to those rarely heard in society. The film was produced by the amazing Lea Marin, photographed by Mike McLaughlin and edited by Andres Landau. We feature music created by the youth who appear in the film. As well, music by Colin Stetson, Jean-Michel Blais and original compositions by Menelon Music. The collaboration was incredible and I am excited for the film to roll out in the coming months and share this work. Til’ then… Shalom.

By ~Alexandra Staseson @CanadaScreens @MoveThrough 

Posted in Blog


Canada Screens Celebrates the Spirit of Athletic Excellence with Canadian Film!

Canada Screens, and The NFB are celebrating the spirit of excellence, athleticism and of course celebrating Canada, as the 2016 Summer Olympics take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 5th-21st! This summer also marks the 40th anniversary year of the summer Olympics being held in Montreal, Canada 1976! We are pleased to showcase the following 6 feature-length films available for rental, offered on both and platforms, which tie into these above themes! Watch the trailers and rent the films here today!  
PS: We’ve also included below a selection of old-school feature-length and short films available to stream for free online at The NFB!

Alexandra Staseson, and on Social at @CanadaScreens

Stephen Hopkins
2016 | 2h 14min

Jesse Owens' quest to become the greatest track and field athlete in history thrusts him onto the world stage of the 1936 Olympics, where he faces off against Adolf Hitler's vision of Aryan supremacy. Watch the Trailer and Rent it Here!

Charles Officer
2010 | 1 h 23 min

From acclaimed filmmaker Charles Officer comes the story of the rise, fall and redemption of Harry Jerome, Canada's most record-setting track and field star. Gorgeous monochrome imagery, impassioned interviews and astonishing archival footage are used to tell the triumphant and compelling story of what Harry Jerome's own coach called "the greatest comeback in track and field history." Watch Trailer and Rent or Download here!

Chloé Robichaud
2013 | 97 min

SARAH PREFERS TO RUN is about the pursuit of a goal and tackles the anxieties of a young athlete who lives only for the race. Watch the Trailer and Rent it Here!

Lori Lewis
2007 | 47 min
At a special ceremony during the opening of the 1999 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg, Manitoba, seven First Nations men in their fifties entered the stadium in war canoes. One of them held the Games torch. In 1967 when Winnipeg first hosted the Pan American Games, ten outstanding athletic teenage boys were chosen to run 800 kilometers over an ancient message route with the Games torch. When the runners arrived at the stadium, they were not allowed to enter with the torch. Instead, a non-Aboriginal runner was given the honour. Thirty-two-years later, the province of Manitoba issued an official apology. Nine of the ten young men chosen for the 1967 Pan Am Games torch run were from residential schools. Niigaanibatowaad is about the segregation of the Aboriginal athletes and the despair and abuse suffered in the school system. Niigaanibatowaad: FrontRunners is a story of survival, hope, reconciliation and a dream for a new beginning that transcends hatred and racism. * Purchase Your Download here!

Zacharias Kunuk
2001 | 2h 41min
This adaptation of an ancient Inuit legend was filmed in Inuktitut and directed by Inuit filmmakers - making Atanarjuat the first feature film of its kind! Set in Igloolik, in Nunavut, this is "a powerful drama, not a documentary," reminds the director Kunuk. "It demystifies the exotic, otherwordly aboriginal stereotype by telling a universal story." The clothes, spears, kayaks, sunglasses and dwellings were all painstakingly researched. "We show how our ancestors dressed, how they handled their dog teams, how they argued and laughed.. confronted evil and fought back." Many enthusiastic viewers have compared this epic story to The Iliad. In the words of one movie critic, "If Homer had been given a video camera, this is what he would have done!"
Watch the Trailer and Rent it Here!

Daniel Roby
2013 | 1h 51min

This is a biopic of Louis Cyr, strongest man in the world at the end of the 19th Century
Watch the Trailer and Rent it Here!

Olympic / Athletic Themed Films To Stream For Free at!

Jean Beaudin , Marcel Carrière , Georges Dufaux & Jean-Claude Labrecque
1977 | 1 h 58 min

Edited from almost 100 km of film footage shot during the Games, this feature documentary is a breathtaking portrait of the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Much more than a simple record of the Games, the film approaches each event with the intention of revealing the athlete - whether winner or loser - as a unique individual. *Stream it for Free Here!

Don Owen
1962 | 10 min

This captivating short documentary profiles the young Canadian long-distance runner Bruce Kidd at 19 years old. Kidd eventually went on to win a gold and bronze medal at the 1962 Commonwealth Games, and was a competing member of the 1964 Canadian Olympic team. Directed by Don Owen (Nobody Waved Good-bye, Toronto Jazz), the film is luminously photographed by John Spotton and features poetic commentary composed and spoken by the great Anglo-American poet W.H. Auden. The camera follows Kidd’s sprightly movements as he runs on piers, practice tracks, and finally, in an international race. Oblivious to the clapping crowds and the flash of cameras, he knows full well that in the long run it is the cold stopwatch that tells the truth. *Stream it for Free Here!

Paul Cowan
1977 | 41 min

This documentary by director Paul Cowan is about four athletes and a team that competed in the 1976 Olympics. They had trained courageously to be among those who would mount the podium to receive a medal. None of them did, but was it worth the effort? I'll Go Again answers the question. *Stream it for Free Here!

Jean-Claude Labrecque
1978 | 24 min

This short documentary depicts the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics' marathon race. A modern-day addition to the Games, the Marathon has become a symbol of the Olympics. It commemorates the soldier who ran cross-country, in 490 B.C., to announce the Greek victory at Marathon and then died. In this film, the race's emotional component is related by Cierpinski, the event's 1976 gold medalist. This emotion-charged film proves that although the winner of the Decathlon is the best all-round athlete, the "toughest" is the winner of the Marathon.
*Stream it for Free Here!

Pierre Bernier & Georges Dufaux
1978 | 28 min

A member of the Soviet Union's women's gymnastic team at the 1976 Olympic Games, Nelli Kim was seventeen when she won two gold medals for her superb performance on the horse vault and for the floor exercises. The slow-motion camera highlights the best moments of her performance. It also shows the person behind the athlete, and the nervousness that is generated by the presence of a new star, Nadia Comeneci of Romania. *Stream it for Free Here!

 Michael Brun
1977 | 57 min

This short documentary profiles the Canadian military’s organization, logistical, and security operations at the XXI Olympiad held in 1976 in Montréal. The scale of the operation was large: 16,000 troops were mobilized to provide protection for 7,500 athletes, countless VIPs, and the general public on 138 sites located in Montreal, Bromont, and Kingston. This film offers a behind-the-scenes look at the planning and synchronization necessary to mount a successful international event of massive proportions. *Stream it for Free Here!

Gary Toole
1980 | 27 min

This short documentary is an ode to the thrills and excitement of cycling. Including highlights from the 1976 Olympics and the 1978 Commonwealth Games, the film features some of the world's best cyclists and their coaches, in training and in competition. *Stream it for Free Here!

 Visit to rent great Canadian Films, anytime!

Posted in Blog


Happy Canada Day from FWC and Canada Screens!

Happy Canada Day! Naturally, First Weekend Club and celebrate Canada everyday of the year, but we are pleased to patriotically present for Canada Day 2016 2 fun Canadian Films available to rent at today! We also have a fun interview with comedy superstar Russell Peters for you to watch!

First documentary feature film, BEING CANADIAN, by Robert Cohen and eOnefilms, which asks the question, “What does it actually mean to be Canadian?“. With moments featuring, Colbie Smulders, Russell Peters, Seth Rogen, Ben Stiller, Nathan Fillion, Mike Myers, Michael J Fox, Will Arnet and more, this humorous documentary hopes to find the answer!

BEING CANADIAN chronicles the real-life quest of Robert Cohen, a proud Canadian, who left his hometown of Calgary and moved to the U.S. to start a career as a TV comedy writer. He started noticing how people outside Canada knew very little about his beloved homeland. After decades of ignorance, insults, and indifference, he decides to do something about it. Rob sets off on an epic personal quest, driving across Canada from East to West, to confirm the country he's been fighting for is still what he remembers. Interwoven with this journey are interviews with a variety of famous Canadians, along with people he meets along the way. His deadline? Midnight on Canada Day, in Vancouver. Imagine 'Sherman's March', but wearing a toque!

Watch the trailer and rent the film here! 

First Weekend Club Chats with Canadian Superstar Russell Peters!

FWC/ host and producer Alexandra Staseson sat down with superstar comedian, Russell Peters during Banff World Media Festival where he was recently honoured with the Sir Peter Ustinov Award, to chat Canada Day and “Being Canadian”…
Watch the interview here:


 Canada's Game on Canada Day!

Next we celebrate ‘Canada’s Game’-that’s right, good ol’ hockey, with hit film Canadian feature film GOON, written by Jay Baruchel and directed by Michael Dowse. Available to rent at, Goon has received international fame and acclaim and a GOON 2 is currently in the works. Jay Baruchel recently won the Banff Canadian Award of Distinction for
his contribution to the screen, in front of and behind the camera. When speaking of Goon, Baruchel reinforced with a smile to the Banff 2016 audience, ”If you try to make something for everyone you’ll end up making something for noone. Goon is unabashedly made for Canada!”

About GOON :
From director Michael Dowse, of the Canadian cult classics FUBAR I and FUBAR II, Goon was written by Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg, and produced by the legendary Don Carmody. Considered an outcast within his family of brainiacs, a bouncer leads a team of under-performing misfits to semi-pro hockey glory.

Watch the trailer and rent GOON here!  

Posted in Blog









Banff June 13, 2016-

The Banff World Media Festival (BWMF) announced winners of the annual Rockie Awards today at their flagship Program Competition that celebrates excellence in TV and digital content from around the world, during a special Awards ceremony held at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. The BBC was a big winner, taking home 4 Rockie Awards. The BBC’s Rockie wins were for Stick Man in the Animation category, Sleeping Lions in the Children & Youth Fiction Series category (in partnership with David & Goliath and Libra Television for BBC), My Jihad in the Digital Fiction Series category and Shark in the Environmental & Wildlife Program category.


Canadian programs shined at this year’s Rockies with the host country scoring 6 Award winners:
Carmilla from Shaftsbury/Smokebomb winning the Brand Content category; Mon ex à Moi (Dumped!) from Avanti Ciné Vidéo winning the Comedy Series category: Pour Sarah (For Sarah) from Encore Télévision and Duo Productions winning the Francophone Program category; The Wanted 18 from Intuitive Pictures winning the History & Biography Program category; and  The Incredible Tales of Weirdwood Manor from All Play, No Work winning the Interactive Content for Kids & Youth category. 


Over 40 countries participated in this year’s competition. The Awards honor excellence in 23 categories across drama, comedy, children’s, documentary, factual, digital and more. The Rockie Awards Program Competition Luncheon was hosted by Matthew Rodrigues, host and producer of POPSUGAR and Hilton's new uplifting travel series, Find Your Happy. The luncheon was sponsored by. Telefilm Canada, Thunderbird Films, Lionsgate, Rogers, The Canadian Media Fund, Air Canada, Eye on Canada, The Calgary Film Centre, Triangle Post, Jet Music, Deluxe and The Banff Centre. 


The Jury Grand Prize finalists will be announced today at 5pm UTC via the Banff World Media Festival’s website and the winner will be unveiled tomorrow night during the Rockies Gala (June 14th at 7pm).


Below is the complete list of the Rockie Awards Program Competition winners:




Animation: Stick Man-UK-BBC


Arts & Performance Program: The Adventurers of Modern Art -France-Silex 

Films / ARTE France / Financière Pinault


Brand Content: Carmilla-Canada-Shaftsbury/Smokebomb 


Children & Youth Fiction Series: Sleeping Lions-UK-Libra Television, 

David & Goliath for BBC


Children & Youth Nonfiction Series: Teacher X-Taiwan-Public Television Service Foundation


Comedy Series: Mon ex à moi (Dumped!)-Canada-Avanti Ciné Vidéo


Digital Fiction Series: My Jihad-UK-BBC


Digital Nonfiction Series: Children Deported-Norway-Flimmer Film


Drama Series: Line of Separation - The Morning After The War-Germany-        

Wiedemann & Berg Television GmbH & Co. KG


Environmental & Wildlife Program: Shark-UK-BBC


Francophone Program: Pour Sarah (For Sarah)-Canada-Encore Télévision and Duo production


History & Biography Program: The Wanted 18-Canada-Intuitive Pictures


Interactive Content: Sons of Gallipoli-Canada-Jam3


Interactive Content for Kids & Youth: The Incredible Tales of Weirdwood 

Manor-Canada-All Play, No Work


Lifestyle Program: The Great Meal-South Korea-Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation


Melodrama Series: Grey's Anatomy-USA-ABC Studios


Music, Performance & Variety Program: Isabella Rossellini's Green Porno Live!-USA-Sundance Productions


Pre-School Program: Justin Time: Canada-Guru Studio


Reality Program: Shark Tank-USA-Sony Pictures Television


Science & Technology Program: Uranium - Twisting the Dragon's Tail-Australia-Genepool Productions


Sci-Fi, Action & Fantasy Series: Game of Thrones-USA-HBO 


Social & Investigation Program : Agorá - From Democracy To the Market-Greece-Small Planet


Television Movie: Snowy Path-South Korea-Korean Broadcasting System


The Rockie Awards are one of the world’s largest Program Competitions. The program’s industry jury features more than 350 professionals and leaders from around the world working in the entertainment and media arenas.  Categories include: Animation, Art and Performance Program, Brand Content, Children & Digital Youth Fiction Series, Children & Youth Nonfiction Series, Comedy Series, Digital Fiction Series, Digital Nonfiction Series, Drama Series, Environmental & Wildlife Program, Francophone Program, History & Biography Program, Interactive Content, Interactive Content for Kids & Youth, Lifestyle Program, Melodrama Series, Music, performance & Variety Program, Pre-School Program, Reality Program, Science & Technology Program, Sci-fi, Action & Fantasy Program, and Television Movie.

 For more visit:   Be sure to follow all of the action using #Banff2016 

Posted in Blog


Canada Screens Goes Car-Free with Documentary BIKE CITY, GREAT CITY!

Canada Screens Goes Car-Free and celebrates Bike Awareness Month
with documentary Canadian Film, BIKE CITY, GREAT CITY!

It's officially feeling like summer! And in celebration of all the "Bike Awareness Month" and "Car-Free" events happening around the world, and in Canada,
First Weekend Club and Canada Screens are pleased to offer Canadian documentary film,
BIKE CITY, GREAT CITY  by filmmaker David Chernushenko,
available for rent now on online VOD!

About Bike City, Great City

David Chernushenko, a city councillor in Ottawa, Ontario, is determined to make his hometown a better city for cycling. In 2011, the League of American Bicyclists and Share the Road Coalition recognized Ottawa with a Silver rating for bike friendliness. Silver is good, but it’s not Gold. David wants Ottawa — and every American and Canadian city — to strive for Gold, and he’s going to take us on a ride to find out how it can be done. He’ll show us how Copenhagen set the gold standard for cycling and quality of life, and look at what some North American cities are doing right.

Watch the trailer and rent it here!

Bike Awareness Month and Car Free Days are wonderful community endeavors happening now!  Read on to find out more, and  how you can get involved in some Car Free activities in your city!

Vancouver celebrates Car Free Vancouver, June 18th and 19th
The 12th annual Car Free Day is almost upon us. Once again the festivals will be taking place along Commercial Drive, Main Street, and Denman Street, with block parties in Kitsilano. The festivities are happening the weekend of June 18th and 19th! Get involved with Car Free YVR!

Victoria, BC celebrates Car Free YYJ on June 19th!
Car Free YYJ will be back on Douglas Street on Sunday, June 19, 2016 from 11-6pm. After an amazing inaugural year, Car Free YYJ is looking to expand from six blocks to nine blocks in its second year!  The inaugural Car Free YYJ was held on June 21, 2015 and was presented by the DVBA in partnership with the City of Victoria, BC Transit and produced by Atomique Productions. Car Free YYJ took over six blocks of Douglas Street from Herald to Fort Street from 12-6pm.More than 235 vendors lined Douglas Street from Herald Street to Fort Street. Event components included three stages with programmed entertainment, a 7,100 sq. ft. grass park on Douglas Street, a half‐pipe in the middle of the street, a beer garden and activations created by vendors.
Get involved with Car Free YYJ Here!

Toronto Bike Month is May 30-June30th!

Since 1989, the City of Toronto has worked with the cycling community to deliver programming encouraging cycling. Toronto's Bike Month has evolved from a 1989 Bike to Work Day event to become one of the largest event of its kind in Canada. Beginning in 2012, the City partnered with Cycle Toronto, to transition Bike Month into a community-based program. Each year, Toronto's Bike Month events kick off with Bike to Work Day which takes place on the last Monday of May. Ride to City Hall and enjoy a free pancake breakfast provided by St. Lawrence Market. This is a joint event between the City of Toronto and Cycle Toronto.

Get involved with Toronto Bike Month Here!

Visit for this, and more great Canadian Film titles available for rent!

Posted in Blog


Canada Celebrates Music Documentary I AM THE BLUES by Daniel Cross

Canada Celebrates Music Documentary I AM THE BLUES by Daniel Cross

**** 4 STARS - NOW WEEKLY, Toronto

“Heartache Never Sounded As Good As in I Am The Blues”
~ National Post

After moving audiences at IDFA and SXSW, celebrated #CdnFilm documentary I Am the Blues by Daniel Cross / EyeSteelFilm is rocking out Canada this weekend and through the summer!

I AM THE BLUES takes the audience on a musical journey through the swamps of the Louisiana Bayou, the juke joints of the Mississippi Delta and Moonshine soaked BBQs in the North Mississippi Hill Country. Visiting the last original blues devils, many in their 80s, still living in the American deep south and touring the Chitlin’ Circuit. Let Bobby Rush, Barbara Lynn, Henry Gray, Carol Fran, Little Freddie King, Lazy Lester, Bilbo Walker, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, RL Boyce, LC Ulmer, Lil’ Buck Sinegal and their friends awaken the blues in all of us.

Watch trailer here!

Showtimes Below

Bloor Cinema #Toronto

June 8, 9:30pm

June 9, 9:15pm

July 23, 4:00pm

July 25, 8:45pm

July 26, 8:45pm

July 27, 6:30pm

Canada Square #Toronto
June 10 open run 
3:45pm, 6:30pm, 9:00pm

Kingsway Theatre #Toronto
June 10 open run

La Cinémathèque Québécoise #Montréal, QC) 

From June 10
every day at 7:15pm

Cinema du Parc #Montréal, QC) 

From June 10
every day at 2:30pm and 7:10pm

*** Director Daniel Cross
will be in attendance

June 10, 7:10pm

June 11, 2:30pm and 7:15pm

June 12, 2:30pm and 7:15pm

The Loft Cinema #Coburg, ON) 

June 3, 7:30pm

June 5, 4:00pm, 7:30pm

June 8, 7:30pm
 June 9, 7:30pm

June 10, 7:30pm

#Winnipeg Cinematheque
June 4, 9:00pm 

June 5, 7:00pm

June 9, 7:00pm
June 10, 7:00pm

June 11, 9:00pm

June 16, 9:00pm

June 18, 9:00pm

Vancity Theatre #Vancouver, BC
June 13, 6:30pm

June 15, 6:30pm

Cinéma Le Clap #Québec City, QC

June 17 open run

#MedicineHat Public Library Theatre (Medicine Hat, AB)

June 20, 7:00pm

Bytowne #Ottawa, ON
June 26, 4:15pm

June 27, 6:55pm

June 28, 9:05pm


Sled Island Film Festival #Calgary
June 26

Cinecenta #Victoria
July 27, 7:00pm 9:25pm

July 28, 7:00pm, 9:10pm

Limestone City Blues Festival (Kingston, ON) 
August 28

Posted in Blog


Evan Rachel Wood on 'Into the Forest'

Patricia Rozema's Into the Forest tackles many of our dystopian fears in a world that's on the brink of an apocalypse.  But you won't find any zombies here. Instead, the film stars Evan Rachel Wood and Ellen Page as two young sisters who do their best to survive in their home in a secluded ancient forest.  They are not only forced to fight against the elements, intruders, and starvation -- but also against their own loneliness and sense of isolation.  They must fight to keep hope, and each other, alive.

First Weekend Club's Katherine Brodsky caught up with one of the film's stars, Evan Rachel Wood to discuss her experiences making the film (reprinted from AICN):

Q: Did you read the book before doing the movie? What kind of awareness did you have of the book?

Yes, but I didn't read it until after I've read the script. If you're doing a film based on a book, in certain cases, I feel like it's right to read the book and it's certainly the case here. The book is told from the point of view of Ellen [Page]'s character Nell and so there's a lot of inner dialogue and her observing my character. So it actually really worked out because so much of it is her talking about her sister and the love she has for her and everything she is going through. So it really helped a lot.

Q: Why do you think we are so fascinated by dystopian futures within pop culture?

I think because it's becoming more and more of a reality. One of the things that I loved about our film is that it is set in the not so distant future and there are small elements that are different than the world we know today. The phones and the TVs and the technology is a little different, but for the most part it looks the same. This is a more realistic look at what it would really be like if you lost every luxury in life. No phones no internet, no TV, no gas, no running water…and so we're not fighting zombies, we're just trying to survive.

Q: We're fighting ourselves in a way.

That too. We're fighting loneliness and depression and grief. It's more about just stripping somebody down to the bone and then [seeing] how you adapt and how you survive -- what really makes you feel. It's about getting back in touch with how we're supposed to be relating to nature and our surroundings. Not in a hippy dippy way, but you know, what DO we do when all our resources run out? Because it's kind of an inevitability. It could be a cautionary tale, or even a how-to because I wouldn't know how to build a fire or filter rain water or go hunting…real things you'd have to deal with.

Q: Me neither. I've tried to imagine myself surviving on a deserted island with no knowledge. It sure took a lot of imagination!

You can't google it!  [She laughs]

Q: No, you can't. If google was around on a deserted island that would solve everything. And YouTube. Google and YouTube.

Yeah, I think we're all out of touch with knowing how to live off of the land nowadays. 

Q: I don't know if you've seen The Walking Dead but I've seen a bit of it, and I love how the real danger isn't really from the 'walkers' because…you know…they are so slow…but rather, other people.

We're playing two young women by themselves in the woods in a lawless world. That would be super dangerous and people would take advantage of that situation so they have to deal with that as well and defend themselves. Everyday you go outside you're looking over your shoulder and waiting for somebody to attack you. You're constantly living in fear and desperation just hanging by a thread.

Q: As soon as you say "two women living alone in the woods" you know exactly where the tension's at…

Definitely. And we certainly touch upon that in the film.  But we're also not victims. Nor are we tough-as-nails women who had never lost a battle. They have moments where they break and don't think they can go on and all is lost, but there is also hope. And the relationship that these sisters have, they really are the only two people left -- at least in their world. So it's about how they come together and defy all odds. So it's a really intense and powerful movie, but there's also such a beauty to it because it gets to the core of who we are as people.

Q: Speaking of sisterhood, with you and Ellen playing sisters…how did you two bond in a way that would be believable on the screen? Did you really bond?

We did! We had so much fun.  The second she gave me the script and I read it, I basically fell to my knees because I haven't read anything as powerful in a…decade.  So we were like 'alright' let's just hang out as much as possible before we have to film this movie because there's certain things that you can't fake. There's a comfortability or just these little looks you give each other…Sisters can talk to each other without saying anything, so we wanted to have that feeling. So we hung out for about a year. It was very easy. We got along famously and became great friends. I still consider her to be one of my best friends and soul sister.  But it's funny. We're the same age, but I'm playing her older sister. And Ellen would say, "It's so funny, sometimes I really do feel like the baby." [She laughs]

Q: You hung out for an entire year? That seems...rare.

It is. But we just had to completely open ourselves up in every way. I felt that we were so connected and cared about each other. By the time we did the movie, there were certain moments where we'd be doing the scene and I'd totally forget that we were doing a scene and I'd think it was really happening. And when I'd see Ellen either shivering or crying, this instinct would just kick in and I had to mother her and take care of her. We really got each other through this movie. We were each other's rocks, for sure.

Continue reading the full interview at Ain't It Cool News.

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Canada Screens and FWC Celebrate Xavier Dolan at Cannes 2016!

First Weekend Club and Canada Screens offer congratulations to prolific Canadian filmmaker & actor, Xavier Dolan on his premiere at Cannes 2016! The 27 year old Quebec director Xavier Dolan's new film, Juste la fin du monde (It's Only the End of the World) is officially in the running for the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival! To celebrate, we've got TWO of his film feats available to rent at! The 2012 Cannes Award-Winning Film Laurence Anyways, which competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, where Suzanne Clément won the Un Certain Regard Award for Best Actress ~The film also won the Queer Palm Award at the festival. And, you can enjoy Xavier's brilliant acting in #CdnFilm Elephant Song, in which his haunting lead performance left audiences shaken! BOTH films are available to rent NOW!

Watch Trailer and Rent Laurence Anyways Here!

Watch Trailer and Rent Elephant Song Here!

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New Voices at the Toronto Screenwriting Conference

One day Glenn Cockburn of Meridien Artists Management had the incredible idea to create a writing workshop that was more than simply ‘how to become a writer’, one that delved deeply into the craft and business of screenwriting with top speakers from Canada and Hollywood. Today that conference, the Toronto Screenwriting Conference, is in it’s 7th year. We spoke with the winners of the Telefilm New Voices Award about their experiences at this year’s event.

John Ward

The conference had so many great sessions it’s hard to single out a specific highlight. Corey Mandell’s inspiring sessions were full of advice and practical tools; Stephen Falk’s talk on breaking an entire season was as hilarious as it was instructive; and the conversation with Moira-Walley-Beckett gave us insight into her writing journey and the Breaking Bad writers room. My personal highlight was listening to Glen Mazzara. His sessions were simply amazing; thought-provoking, passionate, and made me want to immediately rush home and start writing. Overall it was a fantastic conference. 

John is currently pitching his pilot “Flux" - an episodic sci-fi about an unlikely team of cops and criminals forced to work together to change the future, and also "Dodge & Burn" - a show about an undercover Mountie who’s also the leader of the criminal organization he was sent to infiltrate. 

Ana de Lara

The Toronto Screenwriting Conference was an amazing experience.  The whole weekend was phenomenal. I left motivated and inspired by the variety of writing tools, perspectives, experiences, and words or wisdom presented by the speakers.  Highlights for me include meeting Glenn Cockburn, having my mind blown away by Corey Mandell's sessions, and leaving knowing that I have tools I can apply to elevate my current projects and progress my career.

Ana is currently working on the following projects. Her first feature film screenplay, The Virgin Mary Had a Little Lamb, a comedy told with magic realism about a Filipina-Canadian girl who loves the Virgin Mary, wants to be just like the Virgin Mary, and what happens to her when God answers her prayers.

The Chosen One is a supernatural horror feature,  about a Filipina-Canadian playwright who must stop dark forces that have been summoned by Filipino witchcraft from attacking her sanity.

Yellow Magic, a comedic webseriesabout a Filipina witch who flees to Canada to escape from her family’s association with witchcraft.  When her past catches up with her, the idyllic suburban neighbourhood where she resides is never the same. 

Kim Izzo

It was an amazing experience to be in the same room with such incredible talent as the speakers at this year's TSC. Glen Mazzara's frank and often hilarious talk about Anti-heroes on Day One and then the behind the scenes of creating and filming his new series Damian gave me a lot of insight into the evolution of television  and were the medium is going. I was also riveted to In-Conversation with Moira Wh\alley-Beckett because Breaking Bad is one of  my favourite shows it was a treat to hear stories from that particular writer's room and she was truly inspiring. I also felt that Interview with the Executive, Nicole Clemens from FX was an absolute must, it was enlightening from a writer's perspective to hear firsthand how FX approaches story, pitching and the value of the writer. I will definitely be back for TSC 2017! 

She is currently finishing off the final draft of my feature, The Shame Sisters, for the NSI Script to Screen program as well as developing several television pilots scripts. 

Rebecca Hales

The Toronto Screenwriting Conference has the best screenwriting content of any conference I have attended. It's so much more than just great stories from top industry professionals - though those are GREAT. It's really about master classes in craft, process, production, and development. Glenn Mazzara walked us through the provenance of the anti-hero. Stephen Falk walked us through the entire season development process he uses on You're The Worst complete with photos of his boards. Moira Walley-Becket talked about life on Breaking Bad and the lessons she brought to Flesh and Bone. Nicole Clemens gave a real breakdown of how FX Network finds and fosters groundbreaking TV. Everyone came to talk about the business in real terms, not platitudes and anecdotes. My personal highlight was Corey Mandell and his very practical teachings on Integration and Story Engines. I know I'm not alone in saying it was a game changer. He got a standing ovation for a reason! 

Rebecca Hales is currently working on a spy thriller in which a young woman's world is shattered when her parents are arrested on suspicion of terrorism, and a half hour cable comedy that takes a surreal look at identity and those little voices in our heads.

Maria Dame

Lunch in a private room at The Spoke Club was the prefect kick off to the conference. It was super cool to talk to Moira about Breaking Bad and her transition from acting to writing; to Melissa about Super Chanel and her move to Toronto, to hear Dan’s remarkable story of how he ended up working for Telefilm and to learn from Glenn that his reading of Elephant Bucks was the catalyst that got him thinking about creating a screenwriting conference in Toronto. 

The party at The Fifth later that night was a blast and after speaking with Jen in such a casual atmosphere I couldn’t wait for her seminar the next day. 

With the eclectic and inspiring roster of speakers, my learning curve over the weekend was pretty steep. This morning as I was reading over my notes I really just felt so grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate. It’s like I already feel like a better writer just by being in the room with those people.  

Maria is working on PASSPORT, a one-hour drama that probes the complexities and conundrums of the refugee housing experience.Tensions arise and prejudices surface when The New Hope Centre– a refugee housing residence — moves into in a middle class neighbourhood.

Myself and the team at FWC look forward to working with all these talented writers to promote their feature films! 

For more information on the conference, visit:

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Embracing Adaptation

Guest Blogger: Danishka Esterhazy

I have always written my own screenplays. Because it has always felt right to move from that first initial spark of inspiration (usually an image), through to story, character and structure. Followed by production — all the elements of staging, lighting and coverage — and then into post. Right up to the final cut. I write, I direct and I edit. This has always been my preferred method of filmmaking. Immersive. Total. 

But with every film that I make, I become more excited by collaboration. It is a wonderful feeling to sit down and share ideas with a talented artist — whether they be a cinematographer, production designer, or actor. There is a unique and powerful creative pleasure to be found in these relationships. Even during disagreements. Because a great collaborator will challenge you to rise to new levels.

And so it is with this attitude that I embarked on my very first literary adaptation — a short film called The Singing Bones.

It started by accident. In 2011, I was attending the UCLA Writers Studio. At one of the group gatherings, I looked around the room and spied Francesca Lia Block. She is hard to miss. She was absolutely the most magnetic (and best dressed) person in the room. Francesca oozes style and charm. I nearly jumped out of my seat.

I had been a fan of Block’s writing for years. Most people know FLB for her celebrated Weetzie Bat novels. But it was her wonderful dark and modern retelling of fairytales that I loved the most. 

Impulsively, I tweeted a short message about my excitement to see FLB in person. And, to my surprise, she tweeted back! She invited me out for lunch. After an hour of great vegetarian noodles and a passionate discussion of fairytales and feminism — we were already talking about making a film together.

Fast forward to 2014. I optioned Block’s story “Bones” from her short story collection The Rose and the Beast. It is a retelling of the fable Bluebeard. And an amazing story about a young woman discovering her own power and her creative voice.

The writing experience was an absolute dream. Often, I find the writing process to be the most demanding, draining and disenchanting part of the filmmaking process. An exhausting uphill trek. But working with Block was inspiring. First, I loved her story. It was very important for me to respect her original vision and her voice as a writer. In the option agreement, FLB did not have any legal right to input or approval of my screenplay. But I sent her every draft as both a courtesy and opportunity. I valued her notes. She was able to provide me with deeper insight into her characters while also respecting my creative freedom as the screenwriter. 

Development and production were not easy. I had a lot to learn about crowdfunding as this was my first experience raising money through Indiegogo. I was also forced to recast my lead actors (heartbreaking!) after immigration complications made this Canadian-American co-production more challenging than I ever expected, But, luckily, I was aided by my fabulous producers Bianca Beyrouti, Rebecca Gibson and Ashley Hirt. I also had an amazing volunteer crew. Post-production is nearly complete and we expect the film to premiere this summer or fall.

So, would I adapt another short story or novel? Absolutely. I don't expect every collaboration to be as special as The Singing Bones. But I have seen how great the process can be when two like-minded storytellers come together for all the right reasons.

-Danishka Esterhazy

Danishka Esterhazy is a Winnipeg-based filmmaker. Her debut feature, Black Field, was released theatrically by Century Street Distribution and broadcast on SuperChannel. Her second feature, H&G, was released theatrically by MultipleMedia Entertainment and broadcast on The Movie Network. She is currently preparing to shoot her third feature, Level 16, with Markham Street Films.


Danishka Esterhazy:

Francesca Lia Block: 

Black Field 


Markham Street Films 


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