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Patricia Rozema

Director, Producer, Screenwriter, Editor
(b. January 1, 1958 Kingston, Ontario)

Patricia Rozema is one of Canada’s most accomplished and internationally recognized filmmakers. Throughout her feature film career, she has maintained an elegant feminist consciousness while drawing male characters with compassion. Rozema has established herself as an exceptional, distinctly sensual visual stylist. Her films are characterized by self-referential narration, idiosyncratic protagonists (who are often struggling artists), formal adventurousness and the use of fairy tales, mythology and poetry as structuring elements.

Raised in Sarnia, Ontario, by Dutch Calvinist parents, Rozema graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with a bachelor's degree in philosophy and English. She initially pursued a career in journalism and became an associate producer with the CBC's nightly news program The Journal. In 1985, after a five-week course in film production, Rozema started her film career with the short film Passion: A Letter in 16mm, which won second prize at the Chicago International Film Festival.

While she was writing and preparing her first feature, I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987), she worked as an assistant director on Cronenberg's The Fly and on TV dramas, such as Night Heat and The Campbells. I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, a serious comedy about a socially inept Girl Friday (Sheila McCarthy as Polly), completed for only $350,000, made one of the most outstanding feature debuts in the history of Canadian cinema. And Rozema, at 28, became one of Canada's first female filmmakers to win serious international acclaim. At the 1987 Cannes Film Festival, I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing won the coveted Prix de la jeunesse.

Rozema's second feature, White Room (1990), an ambitious, dark contemporary tale of fame, opened the Perspective Canada program at the Toronto Festival of Festivals. Although it received mixed reviews, it went on to win prizes in France, Sweden and Japan as well as three Genie nominations. When Night Is Falling, her third feature, combines the breezy wit, lyricism and romanticism of I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing with the visual poetry and emotional resonance of White Room. An affecting and moving love story, it charts the sexual awakening of a female Christian academic as she falls in love with another woman, a flamboyant performer in a surrealistic circus. The film had a theatrical release in 42 countries, and remained on Germany's top 10 list of most popular films for six weeks.

Rozema's next project, the richly textured Six Gestures (part of the Yo-Yo Ma Inspired by Bach television series), combines beautiful images of Yo-Yo Ma performing with magnificent skating sequences by Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean, interwoven with J.S. Bach's first-person narrative. Six Gestures was awarded a Prime Time Emmy.

Rozema’s next two films were made outside Canada. Mansfield Park (1999, U.K.), considered by many to be her best work, is a sophisticated revisionist adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel. The film is meticulously true to historical detail, while at the same time, a radical interpretation. Mansfield Park opened the 1999 World Film Festival in Montreal, the Chicago Film Festival, the Mill Valley Film Festival in San Francisco and was featured as a special presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Happy Days (2000), an Irish production, is a film version of Samuel Beckett’s absurdly despairing play in which a woman lives partially buried in a mound. Happy Days is part of The Beckett Film Project (a project aimed at filming all of Beckett's plays), which includes work by directors David Mamet, Neil Jordan, Anthony Minghella and Atom Egoyan. NOW magazine, Entertainment Weekly and the New York Times all voted the project as one of the 10 best DVD releases of 2002.

Rozema also wrote and directed an original short film entitled This Might Be Good (2000), starring Sarah Polley and Don McKellar, as part of Preludes series, honouring the 25th anniversary of the Toronto International Film Festival.

Film and video work includes

Urban Menace, 1984 (director)
Passion: A Letter in 16mm, 1985 (director; writer)
White Room, 1990 (director; writer; editor; producer)
Curtis's Charm, 1996 (producer)
The Hunger, 1996 (director, TV, one episode)
The Shape I Think from Symposium: Ladder of Love, 1997 (director)
Six Gestures from Yo-Yo Ma Inspired by Bach, 1997 (director; writer; TV)
Mansfield Park, 1999 (director; writer)
Happy Days, 2000 (director)
A Wrinkle in Time, 2003 (executive producer)
Suspect, 2006 (director)