AIFF 2018: Thom Fitzgerald’s very busy week doesn’t end when Splinters opens the festival

“Somehow we convince ourselves there’s more road ahead of us than behind.”

Thursday, September 13, 7pm
Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, 6101 University Avenue $50

Thom Fitzgerald is having a busy week. Earlier he was in Toronto for the premiere of his new feature, Splinters, at TIFF. On Thursday night the film opens FIN: The Atlantic International Film Festival. And Friday is the first day of shooting on his next picture. More about that in a minute.

The one at the festivals, Splinters, is the story of a woman, Belle, returning to her home in rural Nova Scotia—shades of Fitzgerald's 21-year-old debut, The Hanging Garden—and dealing with her sexuality while attending the funeral of her father. "I was taken with the way that Nancy, Belle's mom, had this new landscape of sexual identity to cope with. Belle is adamantly undeclared, or fluid, which makes acceptance a bit of a moving target for Nancy. I felt it was all very nuanced and current."

The film is based on a play by Lee-Anne Poole, and while Fitzgerald credits her for the inspiration, he recognizes it goes both ways. "She has a very distinctive voice. She would say she saw The Hanging Garden when she was young, and there are some nods to it in her stage play. I'd say the connection between the two is generational, really: I inspired Lee-Anne and she inspires me."

The film he's about to shoot, Stage Mother, is about a Texas woman who inherits her estranged son's San Francisco drag bar. It stars Jackie Weaver, Adrian Grenier, Lucy Liu and Mya Taylor, with Halifax standing in for The City by the Bay. "We have hills, we have painted old Victorians, we have a harbour," says Fitzgerald. "I'll go to San Francisco for a few days because no one says I can turn our bridge orange for the shoot."

Fitzgerald was just in New York with Canadian director Patricia Rozema at an event, and he congratulated her on her recent successes—her film Mouthpiece is also at FIN. She told him, "I'm just getting started."

"I kind of feel the same way," says Fitzgerald. "Somehow we convince ourselves there's more road ahead of us than behind."

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