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Next of Kin

Year: 1984
Language: English
Runtime: 72 min
Director: Atom Egoyan
Producer: Atom Egoyan
Writer: Atom Egoyan
Cinematographer: Peter Mettler
Editor: Atom Egoyan
Sound: Clark McCarron
Cast: David Hemblen, Gabrielle Rose, Patrick Tierney, Berge Fazlian, Sirvart Fazlian, Phil Rash, Arsinée Khanjian
Production Company: Ego Film Arts

Catatonically unhappy with his upper-middle-class family life, twenty-three-year-old Peter Foster (Patrick Tierney) undergoes video-therapy sessions in which he and his parents observe their own videotaped confrontations. Peter’s estrangement from his callous father worsens when he discovers that videos of his childhood have been erased to accommodate homemade sex tapes. One day, while at the hospital studying his therapy tapes, Peter watches footage of an Armenian family who feel guilty about giving up their eldest son for adoption before coming to Canada twenty years earlier. Peter decides to present himself to the Deryan family as their lost son, Bedros. After he is welcomed with open arms, Peter tries to patch up the poor relationship between George Deryan (Berge Fazlian) and his daughter Azah (Arsinée Khanjian).

Filled with haunting images of travel and displacement, Next of Kin is a visually assured and thoughtful exposition on alienation, displacement and the amorphous nature of home and family. Taking an intriguingly ambiguous attitude toward Peter’s motivations and actions, Egoyan establishes many of the themes that would run through his later work, including his fascination with video, voyeurism, ethnicity, family dysfunction and the theme of the absent child (which would reaches its fullest expression in Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter). Made on a miniscule budget of $20,000, Next of Kin earned Egoyan his first Genie Award nomination for Best Director.

By: Andrew McIntosh