The Enlightened Screen: William D. MacGillivray

MacGillivray directs Laura Wiggins while shooting Hard Drive.
Of all the anticipated films I was most surprised/disappointed to see absent from the Canadian line-up at TIFF this year, William D. MacGillivray’s Hard Drive might be it. The film, however, did have a preview screening at the Atlantic Film Festival in September, which only seems fitting since MacGillivray is a pioneer among independent filmmaking in Atlantic Canada. MacGillivray and Hard Drive will make their way to Ottawa next week as part of The Canadian Film Institute’s Canadian film series “The Enlightened Screen.

MacGillivray gained attention for the film scene on Canada’s East Coast with his 1987 film Life Classes, which was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 1988 Berlin International Film Festival and five Canadian Genie awards including Best Picture. Life Classes is especially notable as a picture that brought thoughtfulness to Canadian stories, as MacGillivray’s film is an intimate look at the way citizens forge identities through their interaction with art and media. This preoccupation with culture and technology returns in Hard Drive. Hard Drive, adapted from Hal Niedzviecki’s novel Ditch, tells of an aimless 23-year-old named Ditch (played by Douglas Smith from HBO’s “Big Love”) who is an analogue man living in the digital age. Ditch finds love with a beautiful and tech-savvy stranger (played by Laura Wiggins, “Shameless”), who accompanies him on a road trip of self-discovery.

Hard Drive marks MacGillivray’s first dramatic film since 1990’s Understanding Bliss (also screening in the series) and it co-stars an icon of Atlantic Canadian film, Megan Follows, whom viewers might know best as Anne of Green Gables. The director will be in Ottawa to present his films at the CFI series, which begins Thursday, October 17 with Hard Drive.

The line-up for this edition of “The Enlightened Screen” is as follows:

Hard Drive
(Canada, 2013)
Thursday, October 17, 2013, 7:00 pm

Synopsis: When Debs, a beautiful American runaway, lands in the neighborhood where the charming but underachieving Ditch lives with his mom, it doesn't take long for them to find each other. Ditch quickly falls in love but he soon discovers that Debs is carrying some heavy emotional baggage. Convinced he is helping, Ditch lures her back to her home in the States, only to discover the deep, dark secrets that she has been trying to hide. Suddenly, Ditch and Debs have to confront the dangers of her troubled past. Infused with a pulsing indie music track Hard Drive is a character-fuelled, psychological love story about growing up, reclaiming the past, and rethinking the future.

Understanding Bliss
(Canada, 1991)
Saturday, October 19, 2013, 7:00 pm

Synopsis: Elizabeth Sutton (Catherine Grant), a lecturer from Toronto and Peter Breen (Bryan Hennessey), a professor of cultural studies from St. John's, Newfoundland, come together in his town for a secret liaison. All is bliss. But within twenty-four hours, the affair has collapsed. A clash of languages, cultures, and values force them to come to terms with each other's sense of morality.

-Winner: 1990 Atlantic Film Festival – Best Atlantic Feature Film or Video

The Man of a Thousand Songs
(Canada, 2010)
Saturday, October 19, 2013, 9:00 pm

Synopsis: A feature length documentary about extraordinary Canadian singer songwriter, Ron Hynes, A Man of a Thousand Songs is an insightful and entertaining exploration of the creative process, the genesis of song, the meaning of performance and the vulnerability of an artist compelled to bare his soul through his music.

-Winner: 2010 Atlantic Film Festival – Best Direction and Best Documentary Feature

All screenings take place in the Auditorium at Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington St.

Tickets (sold at the door) are for $8 each for CFI Members, seniors, and students, and $12 for the general public.

Please visit www.cfi-icf.ca