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When Night Is Falling

Year: 1995
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 93 min
Director: Patricia Rozema
Producer: Barbara Tranter
Executive Producer: Robert Lantos
Writer: Patricia Rozema
Cinematographer: Douglas Koch
Editor: Susan Shipton
Sound: John Hazen, Alan Geldart
Music: Lesley Barber
Cast: Clare Coulter, Tracy Wright, Rachael Crawford, Don McKellar, Pascale Bussières, Henry Czerny, David Fox
Production Company: Crucial Pictures
Camille (Pascale BussiPres) seems to have everything she wants, both professionally and personally. She and her boyfriend Martin (Henry Czerny) are highly respected professors at a Calvinist college in Toronto. As Martin prepares to leave for a theology conference in Chicago, the retiring school chaplain (David Fox) proposes that he and Camille jointly take over his job. But before doing so, they must be approved by the college’s board – and be married. While Martin is away, Camille meets Petra (Rachael Crawford), a beautiful circus performer who pursues her new friend with a creative flair. More confused than intrigued, Camille at first resists, but Petra’s passionate persistence soon wins her over. When she confesses her bisexuality to the chaplain and Martin returns from Chicago, Camille soon finds herself facing some difficult personal choices.

An emotionally respectful and loosely autobiographical coming-out story, When Night Is Falling – which takes its title from Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander (1982) – is distinguished by director Patricia Rozema’s keen eye for ravishing visuals and her characteristic emphasis on the theme of personal discovery, but is undermined by an often thin script. The film was an international festival favourite and won audience awards in London, Melbourne, Sydney, Torino and Créteil, France. Featuring some of the most erotic love scenes ever captured on Canadian film, its overall serious, and at times solemn, mood is lightened by occasional touches of magic realism.

The film was released in Canada, Australia and Germany – where it was a top-ten box-office hit for the first six weeks of its release – with the equivalent of a PG-13 rating, but then received the dreaded NC-17 rating from the MPAA in the United States (because of a scene in which Crawford disappears beneath the frame and BussiPres moans with pleasure). Rozema accused the MPAA of homophobia and racism, but her appeal of the decision was denied. The film was released unrated in the United States, which severely limited its run.