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Notes for a Film About Donna & Gail

Year: 1966
Language: English
Format: 16mm Black & White
Runtime: 49 min
Director: Don Owen
Producer: Julian Biggs
Writer: Don Owen, Gerlad Taaffe
Editor: Barrie Howells
Sound: Roger Hart, André Hourlier
Music: Bruce Mackay
Cast: John Sullivan, Jackie Burroughs, Ray Bellow, Aino Pirskanen, Michèle Chicoine
Production Company: National Film Board of Canada

One of Owen’s seminal works, the medium-length Notes for a Film About Donna & Gail depicts the short-lived friendship between two working-class women in Montreal: the waifish Donna (Michèle Chicoine) and the hard-edged, more experienced Gail (Jackie Burroughs). Although they are at first inseparable, Donna’s strange, erratic behaviour– and her penchant for fantasy – becomes an increasingly insurmountable obstacle. Arguably the first English-Canadian film to feature lesbian characters and to reflect a strong European influence, Notes uses such techniques as a shady, unreliable narrator (Patrick Watson) to raise important questions about whether we can ever actually “know” another person.

By: Steve Gravestock