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Pierre Hébert

Pierre Hébert, animation director,

B: January 19, 1944 in Montréal, Québec

Born in Montreal in 1944, Pierre Hébert studied anthropology at the Université de Montréal in the early 1960s. He had already developed an interest in art and cinema. After hearing about the cameraless animated films of Norman McLaren, he undertook his own experiments by scratching images on the emulsion of 8mm film, an act that has continued to inform his practice today. He was part of the exciting growth of Quebec cinema in the early 1960s and was active in organizations such as Cinémathèque québécoise. Hébert went to work for the NFB’s animation unit in 1965. He was co-animator with Francine Desbiens, Suzanne Gervais on the 1973 short Du coq à l’âne. From 1993 to 1995, he served as president of La Cinémathèque québecoise, a film archive based in Montréal. He has also been teaching animation in various universities and writing for cinema and art magazines. He published three essays (L’Ange et l’automate, 1999, Corps, langage, technologie in 2006, and in 2021, Toucher au cinéma). In August 2010, he was recognized for his work with an honorary professorship by the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver. He has been a member of the board of the artist-run video centre Videographe, in Montreal since 2011. Other recent awards include a ppecial career award from the Tehran International Animation Festival in 2017, Best Canadian Animation Film award for Tu ressembles à moi at Les Sommets du cinéma d’animation, in Montréal in 2014. We list his credits as an animator and/or animation director.

Also see: Pierre Hébert: Animation without Borders

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Le révolutionnaire (1965)
Opus 3 (1966, short)
Op Hop – Hop Op (1966, short)
Comment savoir (aka Knowing to Learn, 1966, documentary)
Opus 3 (1967, short)
Explosion démographique (1968, short)
Autour de la perception (1968, short)
Le corbeau et le renard (1969, short)

Notions élémentaires de génétique (1971, short)
Du coq à l’âne (Co-animator, 1973, short)
Je Chante à Cheval avec Willie Lamothe (1971, documentary)
Père Noël, père Noël (1974, short)
Entre chiens et loup (1978, short, documentary)

Souvenirs de guerre (1982, short)
L’émotion dissonante (1984)
Étienne et Sara (1984, short)
O Picasso (1985)
Love Addict (Offenbach) (1985, short)
Chants et danses du monde inanimé – Le métro (1985, short)
Adieu bipède (1987, short)
La Lettre d’amour (1988, short)

Ottawa 90 Signal Films (Co-animator, 1990, short)
Le fils du bijoutier (1991, short)
La plante humaine (1996)

Rivière au tonnerre (2011, short)
Tu ressembles à moi (2014, Short)
Le film de Bazin (2017, documentary)

Le mont Fuji vu d’un train en marche (2021, documentary)

Lydia Zadel

Lydia Zadel, actress,

B: December 7, 1983 in Edmonton, Alberta

Lydia Zadel began her career in her late teens when she was cast in the 2001 feature Lost and Delirious.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Lost and Delirious (2001)
Two Summers (2002)
The Human Stain (2003)
A Silent Love (2004)

Flushing Lacan (2010, short)
Toast (2011, short)
Friends of Brenda (2012, short)
Pawn Sacrifice (2014)
Two Wrongs (TV-2015)
Fear the Walking Dead Survival (2017, short)
Cold (2017, short)
Death Wish (2018)
Game of Tyranny (2019, short)

The Perfect Wedding (TV-2021)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
The Lottery (2014)
19-2 (2014, 2016)
Fatal Vows (2014, 2018)
Quantico (2015)
The Art of More (2015)
Real Detective (2016)
Broken Trust (2018)
Jack Ryan (2018)

Transplant (2020)
The Bold Type (2020)
Blood & Treasure (2022)

Lost and Delirious, movie poster

Samora Smallwood

Samora Smallwood, actress,

B: December 5 in St. John's, NL

Samora Gloria Smallwood may have been born in Newfoundland but her family moved to Windsor, Ontario when she was still a young girl. She received her B.A in Drama from the University of Windsor and now makes her home in Toronto.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Beneath Perception (2010, short)
On a Break (2011, short)
Club Utopia (2013)
Exigent (2013, short)
I Wish You Love (2014)
Berkshire County (2014)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Karma’s a B*tch! (2013)
Murder in Paradise (2013)
Teenagers (2014)

Berkshire County, movie, poster,

Louis Negin

Louis Negin, actor,
Louis Negin in a publicity still for the film Keyhole.

B: October 20, 1929 in London, England
D: December 2, 2022 in Montréal, Québec

Louis Negin was born in London, England and grew up in Canada. At home on stage his earliest film and television roles date to the 1950s and appearances in the dramatic anthology series First Performance. He also appeared as a chorus member in Tyrone Guthrie’s 1957 film of the Stratford Festival production of Oedipus Rex. Negin has acted in several Guy Maddin’s films, including Cowards Bend the Knee, Sissy Boy Slap Party, The Saddest Music in the World, Keyhole, and The Forbidden Room as well as narrating Maddin’s semi-documentary films Brand Upon the Brain! and My Winnipeg. We list early TV dramas as made-for-television movies, and mention the program source in brackets following the year of broadcast.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

The Man Who Ran Away (TV-1954, General Motors Theatre)
The Hand and the Mirror (TV-1955, Folio)
Oedipus Rex (1957)
Seeds of Flower (TV-1957, First Performance)
The Silent Partner (TV-1957, General Motors Theatre)

Apprenticeship of Daddy Kravitz (TV-1960, General Motors Theatre)
The Man Born to Be King (TV-1961)
The Dybbuk (TV-1961, Festival)
Ivan (TV-1963, Festival)
The Slave of Truth (TV-1963, Festival)
Twelfth Night (TV-1964)
The Murderer (TV-1966, Festival)
The Ernie Game (1967)
Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? (1969)

The Chicago Conspiracy Trial (TV-1970)
Vile Bodies (TV-1970)
Ooh… You Are Awful (1972)
Mousey (TV-1974)
Barry McKenzie Holds His Own (1974)
The Italian Machine (TV-1976, Teleplay)
Rabid (1977)
Strangers at the Door (1977, short)
Blackout (1978)
Two Solitudes (1978)

Highpoint (1982)
Cook & Peary: The Race to the Pole (TV-1983)
Overdrawn at the Memory Bank (TV-1983, American Playhouse)
A Matter of Cunning (TV-1983)
Deadline (1984)
Charlie Grant’s War (TV-1984)
In Like Flynn (TV-1985)
Big Deal (1985)
Keeping Track (1986)
City of Shadows (1987)
Last Man Standing (1987)
Physical Evidence (1989)

Love & Murder (1990)
54 (1998)
The Devil’s Arithmetic (TV-1999)
Eye of the Beholder (1999)

Left Behind II: Tribulation Force (2002)
Cowards Bend the Knee or The Blue Hands (2003)
The Saddest Music in the World (2003)
Sissy-Boy Slap-Party (2004, short)
My Winnipeg (2007, documentary)
Pontypool (2008)
Glorious (2008, short)
Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair (2009, short)

Keyhole (2011)
Gerontophilia (2013)
Mynarski Death Plummet (2014, short)
The Forbidden Room (2015)
Oh What a Wonderful Feeling (2016, short)
The Twentieth Century (2019)

TV Series – Cast:
Seeing Things (1981-1987)
Mona the Vampire (voice, 1999-2000)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Quest (1964)
The Troubleshooters (1968)
Man in a Suitcase (1968)

Brett (1971)
The Zoo Gang (1974)
On the Evidence (1975)
The Wayne & Shuster Comedy Special (1976)
King of Kensington (1977)

The Littlest Hobo (1980, 1982)
Standing Room Only (1981)
Philip Marlowe, Private Eye (1986)
Hot Shots (1986)
Night Heat (1986, 1987)
Adderly (1987)
Check Tt Out (1987)
Diamonds (1987)

Sweating Bullets (1991)
Class of ’96 (1993)
Counterstrike (1993)

Queer as Folk (2001)
Lord Have Mercy! (2003)
ReGenesis (2006)
Slings and Arrows (2006)

Saddest Music in the World, movie, poster,

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, actress,

B: 2003 in Mississauga, Ontario

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan was born and raised in Mississauga, Ontario, just west of Toronto and is a graduate of the Meadowvale Secondary School. Known for her leading role as Devi Vishwakumar in the Netflix teen comedy series Never Have I Ever, she landed the role over some 15,000 other candidates in an open casting by Executive Producer Mindy Kaling, who is known for her work on The Office, The Mindy Project and Late Night. Ramakrishnan provided the voice of Priya in the Pixar film Turning Red (2022). She provides the voice for Zipp Storm in the animated Little Pony series. She made news in December 2022 when it was revealed she would perform with the National Ballet of Canada as one of the dancers trying to defeat the Mouse King in the annual production of the ballet The Nutcracker.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Turning Red (voice (2022)

TV Series – Cast:
Never Have I Ever (2020-2022)
My Little Pony: Make Your Mark (voice, 2022)
My Little Pony: Tell your Tale (2022)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Acting for a Cause (2020)

Frances-Anne Solomon

Frances-Anne Solomon, filmmaker,

B: June 28, 1966 in London, England

Frances-Anne Solomon is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, producer, curator, and entrepreneur in film, TV, radio, theatre, and new media. Born in England of Trinidadian parents, she was raised and educated in the Caribbean and Canada before moving to Great Britain where she built a successful career with the BBC as a TV Drama Producer and Executive Producer. Productions included Love is the Devil by John Maybury, and Speak Like A Child by John Akomfrah, both of which she executive produced for the BBC. At the same time she also produced and directed films and television programs through her production company Leda Serene Films. Solomon moved to Toronto in 2000, where she continued to create, write, direct, and produce her own projects. She was the Co-creator, Producer and Director of Lord Have Mercy! Canada’s hit Caribbean sitcom, that aired on Vision TV, Toronto/one, Showcase and APTN in 2003 and was nominated for two Gemini Awards including Best Comedy series. She is the founder and CEO of the CaribbeanTales Media Group, based in Barbados and Toronto, a group of companies that create, produce, market, and monetise Caribbean-themed film and television content for global audiences. We list her credits as a Director first.

Frances-Anne Solomon is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
Also see: Frances-Anne Solomon Honoured by WIFT.
Also see: Black Market Launches.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

I Is a Long Memoried Woman (1990, Documentary)
Reunion: West Indian Women at War (TV-1993, Documentary)
Bideshi (1995, short)
What My Mother Told Me (1995)
Peggy Su! (1997)

A Winter Tale (2007)

Hero (2018)

TV Series – at least 1 episode of:
Birthrights (1991)
Siren Spirits (1994, mini-series)

Drop the Beat (2000)
Lord Have Mercy! (2003-2004)
Literature Alive (2005-2006)
Heart Beat (2008)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
I Is a Long Memoried Woman (1990, Documentary)
What My Mother Told Me (1995)

A Winter Tale (2007)

Hero (2018)

TV Series – at least 1 episode of:
Siren Spirits (1994, mini-series)

Lord Have Mercy! (2003-2004)
Literature Alive (2005-2006)
Heart Beat (2008)

Credits as a Producer:
I Is a Long Memoried Woman (1990, Documentary)
Reunion: West Indian Women at War (TV-1993, Documentary)
Memsahib Rita (TV-1994, short) Bideshi (1995, short)
What My Mother Told Me (1995)
Flight (TV-1995)
White Men Are Cracking Up (1996, short)
Get Me to the Crematorium (1996, short)
Sixth Happiness (1997)
Flight (1997, short)
Speak Like a Child (1998)
Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998)

A Winter Tale (2007)

Kingston Paradise (2013)
Hero (2018)
Battledream Chronicles: A new beginning (TV-2018)

TV Series – at least 1 episode of:
Birthrights (1991)
Siren Spirits (1994, mini-series)

Lord Have Mercy! (2003-2004)
Literature Alive (2005-2006)
Heart Beat (2008)

Ishan Davé

Ishan Davé, actor,

B: November 7, 1989 in Thornhill, Ontario

Ishan Davé’s family is from Gujarat, a western state in India. Born in Ontario, he is a graduate of Montréal’s National Theatre School. He began acting when he was 13 landing his first role, that of Sandi Bhutella in the series Renegadepress.com and going to appear in 52 episodes between 2004 and 2008. He was nominated in 2006 and again in 2007 for a Canadian Screen Award in the category Best Performance in a Children’s or Youth Program or Series for his work on Renegadepress.com. He played the role of Detective Pujit Singh in the series Slasher and he was Raj Mehta, a recurring character in 8 episodes of Kim’s Convenience between 2017 and 2020.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Charlie Bartlett (2007)
Made of Things My Eyes Could See (2016, short)
Mouthpiece (2018) Argos (2018, short)
Succor (2020, short)
Sugar Daddy (2020)
Peregrine (2020, short)
Pleasure Garden (2021, short)
A Man and a Woman (2021)

TV Series – Cast:
Renegadepress.com (2004-2008)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Degrassi: The Next Generation (2005, 2006)
Young Drunk Punk (2015)
Kim’s Convenience (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020)
Slasher (2019)
Hudson & Rex (2019)
Band Ladies (2020)
Homeschooled (2022)

Mouthpiece, movie, poster,

Kimberly Laferriere

Kimberly Laferriere, actress,

B: November 3, 1982 in Montréal, Québec

Kimberly Laferriere is a member of various actors’ unions including ACTRA, DSAG-AFTRA and UDA (Union des artistes).

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Winter Lily (2000)
Thinly Veiled (2009)
Beneath the River (2009)
The Greens (2010, short)
Des milliers et des milliers d’années (2013, short)
Saturday Night Special (2014, short)
Hailstorm (2014, short)
The Badge (2015)
Life on Juniper (voice, 2015, short)
Benjamin (2015, short)
La nouvelle vie de Paul Sneijder (2016)
White Night (2017)
Gracefield Incident (2017)
Mother! (2017)
Ordinary Days (2017)
Mommy’s Little Angel (TV-2018)
State Like Sleep (2018)
Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe (TV-2018)
Le Femme de mon frère (2018)

Serpent in the Bottle (2020)
Do Not Disturb (2022)

TV Series – Cast: 
21 Thunder (2017)
Fugueuse (2018-2019)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
2 frères (2000)
As the World Turns (voice, 2007)
1000 Ways to Die (2009)
Blue Mountain State (2011)
Being Human (2013)
Saving Hope (2015)
Cut N’ Dry Talent TV (2017)
Jérémie (2018, 2019)
Hudson & Rex (2019)
In The Dark (2021)

Web Series:
Shooting the Moon (2014)
Féminin/Féminin (2014-2018)

Kimberly Laferriere is represented by:
Agence Premier Role
3449, avenue de l’Hôtel-de-Ville
Montréal, Québec, H2X 3B5

Phone: (514) 844-7653
Email: info(at)premierrole.com

Ordinary Days, poster,

Adam DiMarco

Adam DiMarco, actor, The White Lotus,
Courtesy of HBO

B: April 14, 1994 in Vancouver, British Columbia

Adam DiMarco began his career playing a mannequin in the 2010 short Fourth Date. He co-stars in Season 2 of The White Lotus as Albie di Grasso (pictured), a 20-something who accompanies his sex-addicted father, Dominic (The Sopranos‘ Michael Imperioli), and his lecherous grandpa Bert (Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham) to the resort’s Sicily location. Season 1 of the series won 10 Emmy Awards. DiMarco’s second film was the short Lotus Eaters.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Fourth Date (2010, short)
Lotus Eaters (2011, short)
Do Something With Your Life (2011)
Radio Rebel (TV-2012)
Kiss at Pine Lake (TV-2012)
A Killer Among Us (TV-2012)
Kill for Me (VR-2013)
After All These Years (TV-2013)
Words and Pictures (2013)
Leap 4 Your Life (2013)
Date and Switch (2014)
Girlhouse (2014)
What an Idiot (2014)
My Life as a Dead Girl (TV-2015)
The Twisted Slipper (2015, short)
Christmas Truce (TV-2015)
Star Trek Beyond (2016)
My Mom Robs Banks (TV-2016)
Marrying the Family (2016)
Last Night in Suburbia (2017)
Secret Millionaire (TV-2018)
Day 34 (2018, short)
Father Neptune (2019, short)
Recess: Third Street (2019, short)

TV Series – Cast:
Arctic Air (2012-2013)
The Magicians (2016-2020)
When We Rise (2017, mini-series)
The Order (2019-2020)
Pillow Talk (2022)
The White Lotus (2022-)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
R.L. Stine’s the Haunting Hour (2011, 2012)
Supernatural (2013)
Signed, Sealed, Delivered (2014)
Rush (2014)
The Returned 2015)
Proof (2015)
Cedar Cove (2015)
Second Chance (2016)
Motive (2016)
Life Sentence (2018)
Oliver Forever (2018)
Charmed (2019)
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2019)

Director X

B: October 31, 1975 in Toronto, Ontario

Director X began life as Julien Christian Lutz and is of Trinidadian and Swiss descent. Born in Brampton, west of Toronto, he went to Mayfield Secondary School and North Park Secondary School. He is known for his work in music videos, including projects for The Wanted, R. Kelly, Usher, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Korn, David Guetta, Nelly Furtado, Sean Paul, Justin Bieber, Drake, Nicki Minaj, T.I., Little Mix, Rihanna, Union J, Fifth Harmony, Miguel, One Direction, and Iggy Azalea. He founded his own production company, Popp Rok, in 2015. He also has a clothing line, X Fit. Look for him in the trailer for Superfly.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Rhythm City Volume One: Caught Up (2005)

Across the Line (2015)
Center Stage: On Pointe (2016)
Superfly (2018)
Seven Mothers (VR-2019)

NASA & SpaceX: Journey of the Future (2020)
Commander in Chief (VR-2020)

TV Series:
Lost Girl (2014)
Backstage (2016-2017)
Mister Tachyon (2019)
October Faction (2020)
The Imperfects (2022)
Mike (2022, mini-series)

Superfly, 2018 movie, poster,

Ali Kazmi

Ali Kazmi, Beeba Boys, actor,
Waris Ahluwalia as Manny, Ali Kazmi as Guri, and Steve Dhillon as Harryin in Beeba Boys. Photo by Rafy. Courtesy of Mongrel Media.

B: October 31, 1981 in Karachi, Pakistan

Born in Pakistan, Ali Kazmi has lived in Toronto for years. He attended both Film School and Drama school and began his career in Canada. He plays one of the lead roles as “Appa” in Deepa Mehta’s 2020 film Funny Boy. He played the role of Sikander in 20 episodes of Jackson Heights between 2014 and 2015.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Zikr Hai Kai Saal Ka (TV-1995)
The Strip Mall (2010)
Beat the World (2011)
Cold (2013, short)
The Dependables (2014)
Americanistan (2014, short)
Aik Aur Aik Gyarah (TV-2015)
Sardaar Ji (2015)
Beeba Boys (2015)
Jawani Phir Nahi Ani (2015)
Coffee at Laundromat (2016, short)
Dobara Phir Se (2016)
The Breadwinner (voice, 2017)
Motorcycle Girl (2018)
Na Band Na Baraati (2018)
Altered Skin (2018)
Laal Kabootar (2019)
Baaji (2019)
Superstar (2019)
Heer Maan Ja (2019)

Funny Boy (2020)
Ishrat Made in China (2022)

TV Series – Cast:
Jackson Heights (2014-2015)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Manzil Aka Her Lost Destination (2006)
Skins (2011)
Alphas (2011)
Combat Hospital (2011)
InSecurity (2011)
Covert Affairs (2011)
King (2012)
Degrassi: The Next Generation (2013)
Sehra Main Safar (2015)
Rogue (2016)
Taken (2017)
Baaghi (2017)
Falling Water (2018)
Designated Survivor (2018)
Out in the Open (2020)

Funny Boy, movie, poster,

A Cronenberg Halloween

A Cronenberg Halloween, image,
This image was scanned from an original in the Northernstars Collection.

A Cronenberg Halloween
by Ralph Lucas – Publisher

(Originally Published: October 31, 2018 – Toronto, ON) David Cronenberg didn’t invent the horror genre but serves to this day as inspiration to many Canadian filmmakers who follow in his path. Titles like The Child Remains, The Harrowing, Pyewacket, Wait Till Helen Comes, Splice and so many more including more recent films like Les Affamés and Summer of ’84 all fall into the horror genre. The Bob Clark Canadian feature Black Christmas (1974) is often cited as being the inspiration for John Carpenter’s Halloween, which spawned a long series of sequels and more recently a reboot that owned the box office when it opened October 19th. You may recall Jamie Lee Curtis, fresh from her success in Halloween, cemented her early reputation as the “scream queen” with the 1980 slasher film Prom Night by Canadian director Paul Lynch.

The signs were there in the 1960s. Cronenberg’s 1967 film From the Drain is about two veterans in a mysterious war who sit in a bathtub until one of them is strangled by a plant that grows out of the drain. His career was built almost step-by-step over the next two decades with a series of films that clearly established him as a master of the genre. Films like Shivers (pictured above) in 1975, Rabid (1977) and The Brood (1979), Scanners in 1981, Videodrome and The Dead Zone both in 1983, The Fly in 1986 and Dead Ringers in 1988, which brought horror into the real world where the monster at first seems to be a really nice guy. Dead Ringers won 11 Genie Awards including Best Picture. By the way, the Soska sisters who gave us Dead Hooker in a Trunk, are now working on a remake of Cronenberg’s Rabid.

Halloween might be this huge annual event, but if you put a clock on it and limit the timing to the start and end of kids in costumes coming to your door, it’s usually over in one or two hours. Any single film would be good enough for a homemade scarefest.

My pick? The Brood. Why? Released almost 40 years ago, it’s largely overlooked in Cronenberg’s oeuvre. Costarring Oliver Reed as Dr. Hal Raglan and Samantha Eggar as his troubled patient Nola Carveth, writer Andrew Dowler, writing in an issue of Cinema Canada back when the film had just been released said it best: “Cronenberg structures The Brood and engages the imagination with a series of mysteries. What is the dangerous flaw in Dr. Raglan’s radical therapy, Psychoplasmics? Who or what is murdering the people that Nola Carveth, Dr. Raglan’s star patient, hates? How are the murders and the therapy connected? These fuel the action and encourage us to look for clues, to try and beat Cronenberg to the punchline. But, while we’re doing it, he’s feeding us scenes that lead to an awareness of a second, unstated mystery. Is Nola Carveth really crazy? If so, what are the causes and forms of her madness? The climax of the film links the two sets of mysteries and satisfies the demands of the plot (and the audience) in as gruesome a manner as could be wished.” Sounds perfectly delicious, doesn’t it?

Im sure you have your own favourite David Cronenberg film or films. I’m surprised the Movie Network (now Crave) hasn’t put together a Cronenberg Horror Fest.

Have a happy and safe Halloween.

Also see: Dressing the Stars for Halloween.
Also see: Viral Horror Films.

Northernstars logo imageRalph Lucas is the founder and publisher of Northernstars.ca. He began writing about film and reviewing movies while in radio in Montreal in the mid-1970s.

Canadian Horror for Halloween

Canadian Horror for Halloween, image

Canadian Horror for Halloween
by Ralph Lucas – Publisher

(October 22, 2021 – Toronto, ON) Counting today we’re just ten nights from the annual visit of small and not-so-small ghouls and ghosts, witches and spacemen, monsters and princesses all in celebration of the Celtic festival of Samhain, where this all began. Pronounced SOW-in, the festival began on the eve of October 31st, and ushered in the Celtic New Year on November 1st. The Celts believed this brief period of change between the end of one year and the beginning of another allowed the spirits of the dead to return and visit their earthly home. Clearly it was once a more solemn occasion.

This year I thought it would be fun to tap the broad experience of two of the finest film journalists in the country, Maurie Alioff and Thom Ernst. I asked them if they could select their own personal list of the Top 5 Canadian Horror films. Maurie Alioff, in submitting his list, stated “Canada excels at horror. It’s one of the few countries where one of the most successful film festivals, Fantasia, embraces the genre.

Maurie Alioff
Videodrome
Dead Ringers 
Ginger Snaps
Les 7 Jours du talion (7 Days) 
Les Affamés

Thom Ernst:
Psycho Gorman
What Keeps You Alive
Anything For Jackson
Backcountry
The Lodge.

Here is the list arranged in the order of the titles, with the first through fifth selection of each writer indicated by the initial of their last name.

1-A David Cronenberg’s 1984 film Videodrome anticipated the dark zones of the internet with its story about a grubby cable TV operator (James Woods) hunting for programming with a big kick that will give him a big payoff. Way out there in pre-cyberspace, a channel his techie finds shows nothing but women getting beaten and murdered. Naturally, the resident of Cronenberg-land gets sucked into the sado-masochistic, hallucinatory world he wants to exploit. Cronenberg tunes the viewer into one crazed delusion after another.

Pyscho Goreman, movie, image,

1-E Psycho Gorman (2020): With a slogan that reads Little Girl/Big Psycho, you know you’re in for a horror treat. Directed by Steven Kostanski from the Canadian production collective Astron-Psycho Goreman is Power Rangers meets The Toxic Avenger. Mimi, played with gleeful excess by Nita-Josee Hanna, unearths a gem that gives her control over a vicious, violent monster. It’s an odd mixture of after-school -special warmth with midnight madness gore

Dead Ringers, movie, poster,
This poster for Dead Ringers was scanned from an original in the Northernstars Collection
2-A In the 1988 film Dead Ringers, David Cronenberg raised his own filmmaking stakes. The mind-bogglingly provocative story connects us to the Mantles, identical twin brother gynecologists with radically different personalities. One is introverted and sexually repressed; the other is a flamboyant player. They have invented a menacing set of gynecological instruments that seem more like mediaeval torture tools. They also play games like pretending to be each other as they have s&m sex with a hung-up actress who has a weird gynecological problem (Geneviève Bujold). With exquisite precision and technical virtuosity, Cronenberg and actor Jeremy Irons brought the Mantle brothers to life. In scene after scene, Irons depicts two men interacting. Cronenberg pulls the illusion off seamlessly.

2-E What Keeps You Alive (2018) It’s a shame to reveal that director/writer Colin Minihan’s What Keeps You Alive is a horror movie. It plays nicely as a romantic drama about a recently married couple trying to enjoy a retreat at the family cottage. But the romance is interrupted by an unexpected attack, leaving one partner in a fight for her survival—a truly unique entry into the cabin-in-the-woods sub-genre. The shocks in this film are legitimate, and the anxiousness felt for the protagonist’s chance of survival is real.

3-A Canadian horror filmers like to spin genres. In fact, David Cronenberg invented new ones. John Fawcett’s innovative 2000 picture Ginger Snaps drew from Brian DePalma’s Carrie in its relating the advent of female sexuality to a horror story. Both movies begin with first menstruation: Carrie’s unleashes desire and volcanic rage expressed by scary telekinetic powers. Ginger’s unleashes desire and volcanic rage expressed by the teenage girl’s transformation into a particularly aggressive werewolf. The most indelible horror images are of monstrous hairs rooted in Ginger’s wounds and her burgeoning tail. Despite the level of revulsion, Fawcett makes sure the viewer empathizes with Ginger. She’s like any kid distressed by the changes in her body.

Anything For Jackson, movie, image,
Sheila McCarthy & Julian Richings in a publicity still for Anything for Jackson.

3-E Anything For Jackson (2020) takes The Exorcist, flips it on its back, then turns it inside out. Veteran Canadian actors Sheila McCarthy and Julian Richings are loving grandparents who only want the best for their grandson—to bring him back from the dead. And so they find someone capable of casting a demon into the little guy. But bodies start piling up as more and more people get in the way of achieving their goal.

4-A  Patrick Senécal’s Les 7 Jours du talion (7 Days, 2010) recalls Denis Villeneuve’s shocker Prisoners (2013) and Pascal Laugier’s beyond-horror Canadian-French co-pro Martyrs (2008), not to mention Eli Roth’s Hostel (2005). Les 7 Jours slotted into the sub-horror-genre, “Torture Porn,” which confronted viewers with inescapably hideous images of pain infliction. The genre crossed paths with revenge movies. In Senécal’s picture, a father whose daughter has been raped and murdered makes off with the killer, locks him up, and figures out agonizing torments that will eventually lead to the creep’s death. Senécal’s approach is unsparing. Almost no detail in the destruction of a body is withheld. The point? Like the father, we want to see the swine get his comeuppance, and that implicates us in the barbaric cruelty we witness. The movie wants us to be repulsed by the revenge seeker’s icy mercilessness.

4-E Backcountry (2014) Adam Macdonald directs this unexpected horror film based on an actual incident of a fatal bear encounter. The true story is harrowing enough, but it becomes JAWs on dry land in MacDonald’s hands. A young couple is celebrating their engagement set off on a hiking trip. The trip turns ugly after an unprovoked bear attack leaves one of them fighting both animals and elements to survive. Macdonald throws in a few red herrings that effectively leaves you wondering if there is more to fear than just the wildlife.

Les Affamés, movie, poster,5-A In 2017, Robin Aubert’s Les Affamés (Ravenous) was the horror fan’s take on zombies-George Romero style. The walking dead here are rural Québécois who seem to have retained semblances of humanity. When not chomping on necks, they seem to get all contemplative. They also build peculiar towers of chairs and other commonplace objects. Otherwise, Aubert keeps the usual ensemble of would-be survivors action moving along effectively. 

5-E The Lodge (2019) focuses on a young woman and her relationship with the two young children, soon be her stepchildren. Grace (Riley Keough) is a survivor of a suicide cult, but now she is to be married to Richard (Richard Armitage). Grace struggles to connect with Richard’s children, Aiden (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh), but the children are not quick to warm up to her. That their mother died by suicide at the news of their father remarrying doesn’t help. When Richard is forced to leave Grace and the children alone at their secluded winter home, strange things begin to happen. Is Grace falling victim to the solitude, or are there surviving members of the cult who know where she is and want her back? The Lodge is not horror by the numbers, and it takes its time building dread and then casting everything aside for one shocker of an ending.

Based on these two excellent but different lists, I am forced to assume that each of us has a favourite horror film out of a vast selection of main and sub-genre movies. I hope at least one of yours was on this combined list of 10 of the best Canadian horror films. Films mentioned but not yet on Northernstars will be added as soon as possible.

The photo at top of this article is a frame from what is believed to be the first horror film ever made. Directed by Georges Méliès, Le Manoir du Diable (1896) has been translated into Manor of the Devil, The Haunted Castle, The Devil’s Manor, and The Devil’s Castle.

Also see: A Cronenberg Halloween.
Also see: Dressing the Stars for Halloween.
Also see: Viral Horror Films.

Northernstars logo imageRalph Lucas is the founder and publisher of Northernstars.ca. He began writing about film and reviewing movies while in radio in Montreal in the mid-1970s.

Dear Audrey

Dear Audrey, image,
Photo from Dear Audrey by Jeremiah Hayes.

89 minutes – Documentary, Family, History of Cinema
Language: English, French subtitles
Festival release date: November 2021
Release date: August 19, 2022
Production company: Cineflix Media, National Film Board
Canadian distributor: National Film Board

Dear Audrey focuses on renowned Canadian cinematographer and documentary filmmaker Martin Duckworth who, helped by his 47-year-old daughter Jacqueline, who is on the autism spectrum, support his wife, the photographer and activist Audrey Schirmer through the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease. It is a moving biography but also a story of resilience and strength. Marked by twists and turns as Duckworth reflects on the key personal and professional moments of the couple’s life, Dear Audrey takes place more in the present than the past, and becomes a powerful testimonial to the growing and unshakable love of a husband for his wife.
Also see: NFB trailer for Dear Audrey.

Dear Audrey has been recognized with:
People’s Choice Award, 2021 Montreal International Documentary Festival
Cercle d’or for Best Feature Documentary, 2022 Festival Cinéma du monde de Sherbrooke, QC
Feature Winner, Best of Documentary, 2022 Indy Film Fest, Indianapolis
Winner of the Dr. Sydney K. Shapiro Humanitarian Award, 2022 Phoenix Film Festival
Silver Winner of Best Feature Documentary, 2022 Tokyo Film Awards, Japan

Dear Audrey, movie, poster, documentary,

Crew:

Producer:

Andre Barro
Jeremiah Hayes

Executive Producer:

Katherine Buck
Annette Clarke
Glen Salzman
Pablo Salzman

Director:

Jeremiah Hayes

Screenwriter:

Jeremiah Hayes

Cinematographer:

Jeremiah Hayes

Editor:

Jeremiah Hayes

Composer:

Walker Grimshaw

Cast: Roles:

Martin Duckworth
Jacqueline Schirmer

Himself
Herself

Sara Montpetit

Sara Montpetit made her acting debut playing the title role in the 2020 film Maria Chapdelaine (pictured above), a role played in the 1983 version of the classic Québec story by Carole Laure.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Maria Chapdelaine (2020)
Falcon Lake (2022)

Maria Chapdelaine, 2020 movie, poster,

Falcon Lake, movie, poster,

Carolina Bartczak

Carolina Bartczak, actress,

B: October 5, 1985 in Gehrden, Germany

Carolina Anna Bartczak was born in Germany to Polish parents who immigrated to Canada when she was young. She grew up in Kitchener, Ontario and first studied biochemistry at the University of Toronto. She studied Arts in Lyon and was a writer/photographer in southern Croatia before deciding to become an actor in 2009. She studied the Meisner technique at The Neighborhood Playhouse-School of the Theatre in New York City. In addition to her on-screen performances, she provided the voice of the title character in the 2010 animated series The Mysteries of Alfred Hedgehog. She is best known for playing Magda Lehnsherr, the wife of Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) in the Marvel production X-Men: Apocalypse.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Roombuds (2011, short)
The Apartment (2011, short)
Crazy Photographer (2011, short)
Invisible X (2012, short)
The Smurfs 2 (voice, 2013)
Plato’s Reality Machine (2013)
Brick Mansions (2014)
Femme Brûlée (2014, short)
Gray Area (2015, short)
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Cleverly Disguised (2017, short)
Christmas in Love (TV-2018)
Nose to Tail (2018)
An Audience of Chairs (2018)
Woodland (2018, short)
Wilt (2019)
Unidentified Woman (2019, short)
Hall (2019)
Baldy (2019)

Death of a Ladies’ Man (2020)
Moonfall (2022)
Be Mine.Valentine (TV-2022)
The Love Subscription (TV-2022)
Woodland (2023, short)

TV Series – Cast:
The Mysteries of Alfred Hedgehog (voice, 2010)
The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe (2015, mini-series)
Painkiller (2022, mini-series)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Screwed (2011)
Covert Affairs (2012)
Karma’s a B*tch! (2013)
The Listener (2013)
Lucky 7 (2013)
Mayday (2015)
The Bold Type (2017)
Carter (2019)

Most Dangerous Game (2020)

An Audience of Chairs, movie, poster, Death of a Ladies Man, movie, poster,

Patti Kim

B: September 25, 1976 in Calgary, Alberta

Patti Kim began acting in Calgary, but moved to Vancouver after she worked with Matthew Perry on The Ron Clark Story in 2006.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release
Chasing Freedom (TV-2004)
Family Sins (TV-2004)
Identity Theft: The Michelle Brown Story (TV-2004)
The Ron Clark Story (TV-2006)

Hunt for the I-5 Killer (TV-2011)
Climax, SK (TV-2018)
The Lie (aka Between Earth and Sky, 2018)

The Unforgivable (2021)
Totally Killer (2022)

TV Series – Cast:
The Killing (2011-2012)
Sacred Lies (2018)
The Expanse (2019)

Maid (2021, minis-series)

TV Series – Guest appearances:

Naomi: The Show (2010)
Bob & Andrew (2010)
Signed, Sealed, Delivered (2014)
Intruders (2014)
Arrow (2014)
Motive (2015)
Aftermath (2016)

Siren (2020)
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (2021)
Motherland: Fort Salem (2021)
The Mysterious Benedict Society (20210
Family Law (2021)

Émilie Bierre

Émilie Bierre, actress,

B: May 12, 2004 in Québec

Émilie Bierre is pictured with her 2019 Canadian Screen Award for Best Actress for her work in the lead role of the film Une colonie. In 2018 she won a Young Artist Award for her work in the title role of the TV series Jenny, and in 2021 she ws honoured wth a Prix Iris for Best actress for her role in Les Nôtres.

Also see: The Gala Returns.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Catimini (2012)
Survivre (2014, short)
La voix de l’ombre (2014)
Genèse (2018)
Une colonie (2018)
Dérive (2018)
Fuck les gars (2019, short)
Les Nôtres (2019)

Le Guide de la famille parfaite (2021)
N’xaxaitkw (2022, short)

TV Series – Cast:
Mémoires vives (2013-2015)
Les beaux malaises (2014-2021)
Jenny (2017)
Moi, j’habite nulle part (2019, mini-series)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Lâcher prise (2017, 2018)
Bye-Bye (2021)

Catimini, movie, poster,

Jani Lauzon

Jani Lauzon, actress,

B: September 29, 1959 in Kimberley, British Columbia

Jani Lauzon is a Métis multi-disciplinary artist. She is an award-winning screen actress, a Juno-nominated singer-songwriter, a Gemini Award-winning puppeteer, a multi-award-winning stage actress, a director and filmmaker. She grew up in creative environments; both her biological parents were artists and musicians, and her foster father was the high school drama teacher.

Also see: Toronto ACTRA Honours Jani Lauzon.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Follow That Bird (Puppeteer, voice, 1985)
Basil Hears a Noise (TV-1990)
Alligator Pie (TV-1991)
The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland (Puppeteer, 1999)
The Big Comfy Couch: Sticks and Stones (VR-1999, short)
The Big Comfy Couch: My Best Friend (VR-1999, short)
The Big Comfy Couch: Let’s Try Sharing (VR-1999, short)

Bingo Road (2008, short)
A Windigo Tale (2010)
Dirge (2012, short)
The Cycle of Broken Grace (2013, short)
Time (2014, short)
Nobody (2014, short)
See Me Now (2016, short)
Appalachia (2017, short)
The River You Step In (2019)

Ankle Biters (2020)
Six Days to Die (2021)

TV Series – Cast:
Conspiracy of Silence (1991, mini-series)
The Big Comfy Couch (1992-1993)
Grounding Marsh (voice, 1997)
Longhouse Tales (voice, 2000)
Ruby and the Well (2022)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
T and T (1990)
Prairie Berry Pie (1999)
Code Name: Eternity (2000)
Hard Rock Medical (2013)
Saving Hope (2013, 2014)
Somerthing Undone (2022)

Tasha Hubbard

B: in Peepeekisis First Nation

Dr. Tasha Hubbard is a writer, filmmaker and associate professor at the University of Alberta. She is from Peepeekisis First Nation in Treaty Four Territory and has ties to Thunderchild First Nation in Treaty Six Territory. Her academic research has focussed on Indigenous efforts to return the buffalo to the lands and Indigenous film in North America. Her first solo writing/directing project, Two Worlds Colliding (NFB), about Saskatoon’s infamous “starlight tours,” premiered at imagineNATIVE in 2004 and won the Canada Award at the Gemini Awards in 2005. In 2017, she directed the NFB-produced feature documentary Birth of a Family, about a Sixties Scoop family coming together for the first time during a holiday in Banff. It premiered at Hot Docs and landed on the top-ten audience favourites list. It also won the Audience Favourite for Feature Documentary at the Edmonton International Film Festival and the Moon Jury prize at imagineNATIVE. Her 2018 feature documentary, nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up, is a personal exploration of the cost of the death of Colten Boushie and was selected to open the 2019 Hot Docs Canadian and International Documentary Film Festival in Toronto. We list her credits as a Director first.

Also see: Singing Back the Buffalo.
Also see: nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up wins Best Canadian Feature Documentary Award at Hot Docs.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Two Worlds Colliding (2004)

7 Minutes (2016, short)
Birth of a Family (2017)
nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up (2018)

Singing Back the Buffalo (2022)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
Two Worlds Colliding (2004)

7 Minutes (2016, short)
Birth of a Family (2017)
nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up (2018)
Singing Back the Buffalo (2022)

nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up, movie, poster,

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