107 minutes – Drama
Festival release date: September 6, 1984 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Release date: February 15, 1985
Production companies: Bay Boy Productions Ltd., Hachette-Fox Productions
Canadian distributor: Pan-Canadian
U.S. distributor: Orion Classics
The Bay Boy is set in 1937 in the remote village of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, during the Great Depression. Kiefer Sutherland plays 16-year-old Donald Campbell. It`s an interesting time and the story, like so many stories about teenagers, is a “coming-of-age” tale in which events beyond his control force decisions and actions he may not be quite ready to make. For example, his mother, played by Liv Ullman, would like Donald to finish school and become a priest, but Donald is more interested in girls than the Bible. The girls in this case are the sisters, Saxon and Dianna, played by Leah Pinsent in her film debut and Jane McKinnon. We see that Donald is, despite his hormones, a fairly upright guy who spends time helping his father (Peter Donat) make money with a bit of illegal coal mining, while also caring for his sickly older brother. But one night he witnesses what today would be called a hate crime which ends in a murder and the man responsible is the father of Saxon and Dianna, Tom Coldwell (Alan Scarfe), who just happens to also be a police constable. Donald knows that speaking out might well endanger his family as well as his relationship with the man`s daughters, yet he reports the crime while not admitting the fact that he was an eyewitness. And so the pressure builds on Donald who seems too young to bear this weight.
The Bay Boy, a Canada-France coproduction, was shot on location in Cape Breton, and primarily in Glace Bay. It won 6 Genie Awards, including Best Film.