Home Movies 1980s I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing

I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing


81 minutes – Comedy
Festival release date: May 1987 (Cannes)
Release date:
Production company: Vos Productions Inc.
Canadian distributor: Odeon Films
U.S. Distributor: Miramax Films

There is a lot of wishing and hoping in this movie. Polly, played perfectly by Sheila McCarthy, is quirky, naive, shy, funny, and “organizationally impaired.” She would like to be a professional photographer and at the rather late age of 31 lands her first permanent position as a secretary-assistant at an art gallery. Thinking this might be a chance at a break, she sends samples of her photos under an assumed name to the gallery. Truth is swift and cruel when the owner, a worldly and pretentious character by the name of Gabrielle dismisses them without a second thought. Polly, naturally is crushed. But Gabrielle, played by Paule Baillergeon has her own hopes and wishes. Instead of a gallery owner, she wishes she was a great artist. But she just doesn’t have the talent. One day Polly, just being her own inept self, hangs a picture believing Gabrielle to be the artist. In fact it is the work of Gabrielle’s lover, an artist by the name of Mary Joseph. The critics love it, and Gabrielle takes the credit. Polly tells her own story, sharing the comical and often bittersweet pretensions of the art world while at the same time, revealing a special part of her own private world.

I’ve Heard the Mermiads Singing won Genie Awards in 1988 for Actress Sheila McCarthy and Supporting Actress for Paul Baillargeon. In 1993, six years after it was released, 100 international critics picked I’ve Heard The Mermaids Singing as one of 10 best Canadian films ever made.

The poster was scanned from an original in The Northernstars Collection.

I've Heard the Mermaids Singing



Patricia Rozema

Alexandra Raffé

Executive Producer:

Don Haig


Patricia Rozema


Patricia Rozema


Douglas Koch


Patricia Rozema

Michael Werth (assistant Editor)
Ron Sanders (Consulting Editor)


Mark Korvan

Art Director:

Valanne Ridgeway

Costume Designer:

Martine Matthews
Alexandra Z.

Cast: Roles:

Sheila McCarthy
Paule Baillargeon
Ann-Marie MacDonald
Richard Monette
John Evans
Brenda Kamino

Polly Vandersma
Gabrielle St. Peres
Mary Joseph