Offscreen Notes

  • New Blu Ray of Three Films by Experimental filmmaker Richard Kerr

    October 27th, 2023

    Stephen Broomer through his series Art & Trash, and blu ray label Black Zero has been one of Canada’s most vocal and articulate supporters of experimental cinema. His latest Blu Ray release is a package of three films by Canadian filmmaker/teacher Richard Kerr, entitled Field Trips. The disc includes Last Days of Contrition, Cruel Rhythm and Field Trip.

  • Daruish Mehrjui (1939-2023)

    October 19th, 2023

    I can not believe or understand this latest tragedy, and I am frankly shocked. The great Iranian filmmaker Daruish Mehrjui and his wife Vahideh brutally stabbed to death in their apartment on October 14. Mehrjui was a favorite at Offscreen and I encourage you to read some of the essays and articles we have published on Mehrjui over the years.

    Partial Filmography


    Human Sonata

  • Terence Davies: 1945-October 7, 2023

    October 9th, 2023

    One of England’s most respected directors, Terence Davies, died on October 7, 2023 at age 77. Davies ‘only’ made about 15 feature films but managed to instill a quiet visual intensity and narrative complexity (often concerned with issues of temporality, memory and the relationship between the personal and the historical) to all his films. His final two films were bio-pics, one about 20th Century poet Siegfried Sassoon, Benediction, and the other about write Emily Dickenson, A Quiet Passion (2016) [read review here). Perhaps his greatest works were more autobiographical in nature, dealing with his working class, Catholic upbringing (in the city of Liverpool) as a gay man in a time when homosexuality was not socially accepted. Three shorts that formed The Terence Davies Trilogy (1983), Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988), The Long Day Closes (1992), The Neon Bible (1995) and Of Time and the City (2008), a documentary on his hometown of Liverpool.

  • Yes! Film Festival

    August 23rd, 2023

    The Montreal Yes! Film Festival has a focus on local talent and is showcasing the 2023 crop of new talent this Saturday August 26 at the Leonardo Da Vinci Center. There are three programs of films:

    Horror shorts 11:00 am-3:30 pm
    Local Competition 3:30 pm-6:00 pm
    International Films 6:30 pm-9:00 pm

    Please note due to programming time restrictions, not all films listed are being screened. Filmmakers have already been notified of official selections.


    Cedrick Mainville in PEANUT BUTTER
    Alexis Deziel in LE MONSTER
    Giuseppe Calvinisti in ELEVEN LINES
    Mhohamad Ali Jawad in PINK TORERO KUSH
    Shawn Baichoo in WRAITH
    Nir Guzinski in BITTER SUN
    Tina Mancini in BITTER SUN
    Anne-Julie Proulx in HEALTH CHECK
    Myriam Lopez in ELEVN LINES
    Anne-Sophie Millette in LE MONSTER
    Jen Viens in WRAITH


    Gabriel Despre for LE MONSTER
    Maxime Divier for PEANUT BUTTER
    Giuseppe Calvinisti for ELEVEN LINES
    Naomi Silver-Vezina for ISABELLE WALKS WITH ANGELS
    Samuel Edward Mac for WRAITH
    Tommy Harvey for HEALTH CHECK






    Moika Perreault in THE ILL FATED
    Micheline Chartier in RED TILES
    Charlotte Gagne in THE ILL FATED
    Laurianne Dupuis in THE ILL-FATED
    Charlotte Poitras in DIVA
    Kochar Ababkir in AN ANGRY KNOCK


    Niwar Amin in AN ANGRY KNOCK
    Gabriel Caron in GALATEA
    Rizgar Hama in AN ANGRY KNOCK
    Jonathan Asselin in SERIAL ENCOUNTERS
    Dareen Smile in AN ANGRY KNOCK
    Cedric Mainville in DIVA


    Remi Frechette for DIVA
    Philippe Bourret for RED TILES
    Stephane Turgeon for THE SCREAM
    Sarbast Raza Carmiany for AN ANGRY KNOCK
    Daniel Rodriquez for THE ILL-FATED
    Catherine Cote-Moisescu and Jeremy Glavac for SERIAL ENCOUNTER





  • William Friedkin RIP 1935-August 7, 2023

    August 8th, 2023

    William Friedkkn’s 1973 The Exorcist was a horror blockbuster as much from a cultural standpoint as box-office or genre film standpoint. No other film made as much of an emotional impact on me than seeing The Exorcist with a packed audience at the huge Loew’s theatre in Montreal. So packed that my friend and I (who were both under age I should add) had to sit in the only available seats right in the front row of the large Loew’s theatre screen. The anticipation my friend and I felt after the media frenzy around the film was palpable and the genius prologue in Iraq —a scene not in the novel so entirely Friedkin and Blatty’s design— was so unexpected its length felt interminable (“When is the scary stuff going to start, we thought to ourselves!”). But the way the sequence so eloquently set up many of the film’s themes without any obvious scares to set up the audience for the film’s slow burn horror was an aesthetic masterclass of narrative build-up. From 1968-1980 Friedkin had an enviable run of unique films each different in tone or subject yet remarkable personal reflections of how art can reflect social anxiety: The Birthday Party, 1968 (an engrossing Harold Pinter adaptation with a fantastic pre-1975 Jaws Robert Shaw performance, The Night They Raided Minsky’s, 1968 (show business musical comedy starring Jason Robards and Britt Ekland), The Boys in the Band, 1970 (bitchy, ahead of its time gay comedy drama), The French Connection, 1971 (multiple academy award winning police drug crime thriller with an all-star cast including Gene Hackman as unrelenting detective Popeye Doyle, Roy Scheider and Fernando Rey), The Exorcist, 1973 (arguably the greatest horror film ever made), Sorcerer, 1977 (on its day overlooked but now recognized as a masterful remake of Clouzet’s taut as a clothes line thriller The Wages of Fear, 1957), Cruising, 1980 (Friedkin’s second gay themed film, a detective-serial killer cat n’ mouse thriller set in the New York city underground gay S & M nightclub scene, which caused shock and controversy on its initial release. Post 1980 Friedkin would only sporadically scale these same artistic heights with To Live and Die in LA (1985), Bug (2006), and Killer Joe (2011), but his own legacy as a cantankerous old school director as dictator was cemented and endorsed by his own many on screen testaments and interviews (such as Alexandre O. Philippe’s elucidating documentary Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist, 2019).

  • Michel Côté: 1950-May 29, 2023

    May 29th, 2023

    One of Quebec’s most popular and loved film and television actors, Michel Côté, passed away at age 72 from bone marrow disease. Michel Côté had a golden touch when it came to box-office success, acting in some of Quebec’s most popular film and television shows, including the comedy of sexual (bad) manners, Cruising Bar (1989, and its sequel Cruising Bar 2, 2008), the Horror thriller Sur le seuil (2003), C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005), De père en flic (2009) and the television gangster series Omertà.

  • Kenneth Anger: 1927-May 11, 2023

    May 24th, 2023

    It is hard to imagine an avant-garde filmmaker as being famous, but that much and more can be said of Kenneth Anger, who died at the age of 96 on May 11, 2023. Anger was at the vanguard of a group of young American filmmakers in the 1940s and 1950s (Curtis Harrington, James Broughton, Sidney Peterson, Stan Brakhage, Maya Deren, Maire Menken, Gregory Markopoulos, Jonas Mekas, Joseph Cornell) who ushered in a generation of transgressive and aesthetically rapturous avant-garde, underground films that have influenced subsequent iterations of experimental filmmaking. Although Anger made short, challenging films his cinema upbringing included a love of Hollywood glitch and glamour, which led to his seminal Hollywood expose blend of gossip, speculation and gonzo journalism, Hollywood Babylon. Although Anger’s influence is largely found in like-minded experimental cinema, his disdain for artistic meritocracy (drawing lines between high art and trash art) has seen his influence go far beyond the esoteric to narrative filmmakers as well (from David Lynch, to Martin Scorsese to Damien Chazelle, whose latest Babylon feels at times like an unofficial adaptation of Hollywood Babylon).

  • Helmut Berger 1944-May 18, 2023

    May 19th, 2023

    Sad to hear of the passing of Austrian born actor Helmut Berger, whose star shone most brightly as a muse (and longtime lover, apparently) of Luchino Visconti. Berger’s best and most internationally known films were the ones he made with the Italian aristocrat director Visconti: The Damned (1969), The Garden of Finzi-Continis (1970), Ludwig (1973), and Conversation Piece (1974). My favorite of his performances was as the titular character in Massimo Dallamano’s Dorian Gray (1970). Berger also starred in Duccio Tessari’s intriguing poliziotteschi-giallo hybrid The Bloodtained Butterfly (1971) and opposite Glenda Jackson and Michael Caine in Joseph Losey’s The Romantic Englishwoman (1975).

  • Harry Belafonte (RIP)

    April 27th, 2023

    One of the most handsome actors to ever grace the big screen, Harry Belafonte, passed away on April 25, 2023 at the age of 96. Belafonte was the epitome of cinema royalty, a figure of commitment and grace both on and off the screen. Although his on-screen legacy is huge, for some he will be best remembered for his political activism and dedication to social causes, long before it was common among actors. He stood against racism and racial inequalities throughout his lifetime, including refusing to perform in the South to protest racist laws and segregation. His last big screen appearance was a riveting performance in Spike Lee’s The BlackKklansman (2018), where he recounted a harrowing lynching to a rapt audience of young activists (which Lee cleverly intercut with a KKK recruitment meeting). A true screen legend.

  • TCM (Turner Classic Movies) Celebrates 100 Years of Warner Brothers,” with a month-long tribute

    April 8th, 2023

    On Easter Monday morning, April 10, as part of their wonderful “100 Years of Warner Brothers,” month-long tribute, TCM (Turner Classic Movies) are showing four films “Shot at Teddington, Warner’s British Studios.”

    In order to take advantage of the British Cinematographic Films Act, which came into effect in 1927, initiating a percentage quota of all films showing in United Kingdom cinemas to have been made in Britain, Warner Brothers (WB) rented a studio in Teddington, Midlesex County, on the banks of the River Thames in 1931. Through Jack L. Warner’s leadership, they hired Irving Lerner as production head. WB bought the studio in 1934, and continued to produce between 15 and 20 films a year until the advent of World War II. Production dropped considerably for various reasons, and operations ceased after the studio was hit by a bomb (V1 rocket) in July 1944. In total, 144 WB and First National feature films had been made, most of them “quota quickies,” which were produced cheaply and ran at 70 minutes in length, or less. Although it was initially intended for most cast and crew members to be British, gradually more Hollywood stars (e.g., Laura LaPlante) and directors (e.g., Ralph Ince, William Beaudine) were brought over.*

    The four films showing on the cable channel are Something Always Happens (dir., Michael Powell, 1934), Crime Unlimited (dir., Ralph Ince, 1935), Mr. Cohen Takes a Walk (dir., William Beaudine, 1935), and Crown vs Stephens (dir., Powell, 1936). Interestingly, according to IMDb, they are four of the five most popular WB, Teddington films; the other being The Peterville Diamond (dir., Walter Forde, 1943), which has shown previously on TCM. Tragically, the vast majority of the 144 films have not survived. Indeed, when the British Film Institute initiated “The Great British Film Search,” they published a book, Missing Believed Lost in 1992 which provided details on 92 key films made between 1914 and 1945. Of these, no fewer than 59 were Warner Bros. – First National productions. Since then, nine films, in full-length prints, and seven in fragmented or truncated versions have been found, but only one of the former— The Hundred Pound Window (dir., Brian Desmond Hurst, 1943), on a 16mm print belonging to a good friend of mine—and a 100-foot fragment of the latter— Thank Evans (dir., Roy William Neill, 1938)—are WB titles.

    After the book was published, the great Film historian and collector, William K. Everson told me that the BFI/National Film Archive was mainly responsible for such a huge loss because Warner’s had offered their materials to the archive, but were told that they didn’t have a high enough need in order to obtain the prints and/or negatives from them to store and perhaps restore. Subsequently, WB destroyed most of their British prints and negatives (probably to reclaim the silver content). Perhaps, it is not so surprising that when in 2020, the BFI compiled a new list of the “75 Most Wanted” lost British films, only seven of the 57 still missing WB titles from the original list were included, while a greater number—10 of 33—of the non-WB titles remained on the new list. To be sure, the BFI wanted to expand the scope of their search, and they cited 23 films made from 1945 to 1983. Happily, all but six of these have been found in some form or another. Unhappily, it is possible that only 20 of the 70 “most popular” WB British titles listed on IMDb have survived in some form, and only two or three of the rest, suggesting their survival rate is surely less than 20%. The BFI would only have listed the “most” wanted of the missing WB films, and chances are that double the number that were recognized are lost. Let’s hope that private collectors come forward to retrieve more of these “quota quickies,” some of which might be gems.

    *See, Steve Chibnall, “Hollywood-on-Thames: The British productions of Warner Bros. – First National, 1931–1945,” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol. 39, Issue 4 (2019), 687–724.

    Peter Rist

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