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The Open Grave

Year: 1964
Language: English
Runtime: 50 min
Director: Ron Kelly
Producer: Ron Kelly
Writer: Charles Israel
Cinematographer: Grahame Woods, John Griffin
Cast: J Willis, Gil Christy
Production Company: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Telecast as part of the CBC’s Horizon series, this modern re-telling of the Resurrection – in which the body of a young, radical leader “disappears” from its grave – is presented as though it were an actuality news report; it is hosted by J. Frank Willis and features on-the-spot coverage of events as well as inserts of interviews with various family members and friends of the dead leader.

The Open Grave – which demythologizes the Christ story and takes many shots at the establishment – sparked considerable controversy following its initial broadcast, but its significance lies primarily in its application of direct cinema techniques to an acted, scripted drama. It was widely screened abroad and won the Italia Prize in 1965 as well as a Canadian Film Award in the television entertainment category.

By: Peter Morris