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Peter Lynch

Director, Screenwriter
(b. June 12, 1957 Toronto, Ontario)

In the words of film critic Tom McSorley, “no Canadian filmmaker since Donald Brittain has been so captivated by and effective at illuminating the obscure, often very weird and telling corners of Canada’s past… [Peter] Lynch’s work attempts to penetrate the empirical evidence of our undernourished history to discover the mythological dimensions of Canadian life… That he both employs and parodies the conventions and philosophical underpinnings of the Canadian documentary to do so gives his work a peculiar and winning combination of sobriety and subversion.”

Lynch, who grew up in the East Toronto neighbourhood of Thorncliffe Park, was introduced to filmmaking by an uncle who obsessively filmed everything and was later inspired by his grandmother, who performed vaudeville with Charlie Chaplin, and a great uncle, who was an art director for Alfred Hitchcock and Michael Powell. Lynch was a ski bum, truck driver and assembly line worker before studying Fine Arts at York University. He then set off for New York City, where, as a V.J. at various nightclubs, he was among the first to combine video art and music in a club environment.

Between 1983 and 1987, Lynch co-founded, co-produced and co-directed Video Culture International, an international festival which showcased the latest in video and new media. Lynch raised millions of dollars in funding and equipment for the festival and during this time also worked as a consultant for Sony International. After his tenure with Video Culture and Sony, he worked with Jasmac International developing new media buildings in Japan and North America.

In the early nineties, he produced and directed a number of music videos that aired on Much Music and MTV and then began making short films, including St. Bruno, My Eyes as a Stranger (1993), a documentary about Toronto’s Little Italy, and the Genie Award-winning Arrowhead (1994), an ingeniously wry look at the way people struggle to find meaning within sterile urban environments. After directing beer commercials and making The Artist and the Collector (1995) for CBC-TV, Lynch turned to directing features, all of which are typically concerned with myth, history and quixotic obsession, and the way people imagine and create their place in the world.

His feature debut, the funny and awe-inspiring Project Grizzly (1996), is one of the most successful Canadian documentaries of all time: It won best-of-the-festival awards in Toronto, Vancouver and Sydney and was one of the top ten Canadian theatrical releases of 1997. It even had a fan in Quentin Tarantino, who declared it his favourite documentary of the year. The Herd (1998), about the six-year Canadian Reindeer Drive of the thirties from Alaska to the Northwest Territories, Cyberman (2001), about technology activist and University of Toronto professor Steve Mann, and A Whale of a Tale (2004), about Lynch’s quest to discover the origin of a whale bone unearthed in downtown Toronto, all premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival® and went on to enjoy festival screenings and television broadcasts around the world.

Film and video work includes

Mondo Moscow, 1991 (editor)
St. Bruno, My Eyes as a Stranger, 1993 (director; writer; co-producer with Caroline Christie)
Arrowhead, 1993 (director; writer; co-producer with Emmet Sheil)
The Artist and the Collector, 1994 (director; co-producer with Carol Moore-Ede; TV)
Bubbles Galore, 1996 (actor)
The Herd, 1998 (director; writer)
Zyklon Portrait, 1999 (advisor)
Cyberman, 2001 (director)
Indie Truth: An Inquiry Into the Documentary, 2002 (appears as himself)
Soccer Fever - A Passion Play, 2002 (director; producer; TV)
Animal Nightmares, 2003 (director; co-producer with Rob Wilson)
Dem Bones, 2004 (director; co-producer with Ed Barreveld, Mehernaz Lentin)
A Whale of a Tale, 2004 (director; writer; cinematographer; co-producer with Ed Barreveld; narrator)

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