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Mort Ransen

Director, Producer, Screenwriter, Actor
(b. August 16, 1933 Montreal, Quebec)

Mort Ransen began his career as an actor after studying with the legendary American teacher Peggy Furey. He acted briefly and directed on stage before turning to film in 1961, when he joined the National Film Board as a director.

While at the NFB, he developed a touch for mixing fiction and documentary, writing and directing seventeen films which won fifteen international awards. A number of his short documentary portraits – No Reason to Stay (1966), The Circle (1967), You Are on Indian Land (1969) – focused on social themes and the concerns of the hippie generation, and this trend culminated in his direction of one of the most peculiar, engaging and telling examinations of the sixties, Christopher’s Movie Matinee (1968). Intending the film to be a study of student behaviour, attitudes and beliefs, Ransen – at the students’ request – turned the making of the film over to them and provided only technical assistance.

After producing several notable short films during the seventies, Ransen left the NFB in 1984 to work independently, turning his attention to feature dramas such as Bayo (1985) and Falling Over Backwards (1990). Margaret’s Museum (1995), which he wrote, produced and directed, won rave reviews both domestically and abroad and received six Genie Awards. A self-described "aging hippie," Ransen is now semi-retired and lives on Saltspring Island, British Columbia.

Ransen’s awards have included: Most Popular Canadian Film (Margaret’s Museum), 1995 Vancouver International Film Festival; Best Achievement in Screenwriting (Margaret’s Museum), 1996 Genie Awards; Best Motion Picture (My Father’s Angel), 2000 Leo Awards.

Film and video work includes

The Teacher: Authority or Automaton?, 1961 (director)
Jacky Visits the Zoo, 1962 (director; writer)
The Fatal Mistakes, 1963 (director; co-writer with Jacques Parent)
Among Fish, 1964 (co-director with Kenneth McCready, Stanley Jackson)
Fighting Fit, 1964 (director)
The Inner Man, 1964 (co-director with Gordon Burwash; co-producer with Gordon Burwash, Guy Glover)
Stay in School, 1964 (narrator)
The Transition, 1964 (director; co-writer with Stanley Jackson)
Zero Point One, 1964 (director)
John Hirsch: A Portrait of a Man and a Theatre, 1965 (director)
Labour College, 1966 (director)
No Reason to Stay, 1966 (director; co-writer with Christopher Nutter; co-editor with Les Halman)
The Circle, 1967 (director; writer)
You Are on Indian Land, 1969 (director)
Falling from Ladders, Three "I's" series, 1970 (director; editor)
The Burden They Carry, 1970 (director)
Overspill, 1970 (director)
Untouched and Pure, 1970 (co-director with Christopher Cordeaux, Martin Duckworth)
Running Time, 1974 (director; writer; editor; lyrics)
The Russels, 1978 (co-director with Kenneth McCready, Bill Reid, Susan Huycke; co-writer with Cordelia Strub, Billie Foley; actor )
Bayo, 1985 (director; co-writer with Terry Ryan, Arnie Gelbart)
Mortimer Griffin and Shalinsky, 1985 (director; co-writer with Gerald Wexler)
Harriet 1-255, 1986 (actor)
Matter of Honour, Street Legal series, 1987 (director; TV)
Sincerely, Violet, Shades of Love series, 1987 (co-director with Jim Kaufman; TV)
Tangerine Taxi, Shades of Love series, 1988 (director; writer; TV)
The Emerald Tear, Shades of Love series, 1988 (director; TV)
Morris and Muush, The Way We Are series, 1988 (director; writer; TV)
Falling Over Backwards, 1990 (director; writer; co-producer with Colin Neale, Sally Bochner, Gordon Guiry, et al.)
My Father's Angel, 1999 (co-producer with David Bouck)
Touched, 1999 (director; co-writer with Joan Hopper; editor; producer)
"Ah... the Money, the Money, the Money" - The Battle for Saltspring, 2001 (director; writer; narrator)
Bastards, 2003 (director; writer; editor; producer; actor)