Films & Schedules

  • Edison & Leo

  • Neil Burns

79 minutes

Production Company:
Perfect Circle Productions/Infinity Features
Executive Producer:
William Vince
Dean English, Karen Powell, Dave Valleau
George Toles, Daegan Fryklind
Production Designer:
Erik Whittaker
Brian Johnson
Joe Fitzpatrick
Kerry Uchida
Michael Plowman
Principal Cast: Powers Boothe, Gregory Smith, Carly Pope, Jay Brazeau, Scott McNeil

Canadian Distributor:
TVA Films

Thursday September 0407:45PM VARSITY 8 Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Saturday September 0601:15PM AMC 3 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

George T. Edison (Powers Boothe) toils in his elaborate laboratory – complete with bubbling beakers and whistling air pumps – working diligently on his new invention. Although brilliant, he is decidedly odd. As the result of a childhood train accident, he is forced to hear with his teeth, so he listens to his phonograph records by gnawing on its metal horn. His latest discovery is sure to be his finest moment, but in his haste to top his own legend, Edison endangers those closest to him and the worst happens: his son Leo (Gregory Smith) is electrified, rendering him unable to touch anyone for the rest of his life. After ten years with no friends, let alone physical contact, Leo finds his salvation in Zella (Carly Pope), the first person to see past his voltaic facade.

Set in a surreal nineteenth-century fantasy world called Pickerton Park, Edison & Leo is made all the more extraordinary by the fact that it is an animated film. Using dynamic stop-motion animation, director Neil Burns and a team of animators have crafted a noirish, gothic fairy tale based on a story by George Toles, Guy Maddin's long-time screenwriting partner. It comes replete with Oedipal revenge, mysterious First Nations tribes and a robotic dog named Pickle. The sinister, striking landscape is matched by stunning character designs, including Edison's high, dual-tipped coif and large, slightly crazed eyes. Edison & Leo never fails to surprise, and at times its realism is unnerving, with more violence and disturbing moments than typically found in North American animation.

A film about theft in many forms – cultural, personal and spiritual – Edison & Leo is a groundbreaking achievement both for its visual splendour and its mature thematic content. A culmination of years of work and decades of Canadian animation history, this is a completely original achievement that extends the genre to its boundaries, and then pushes past them.

Jesse Wente

Neil BurnsNeil Burns worked in stop motion animation for the CBC series What It's Like Being Alone and the Disney series Jojo's Circus as well as on portions of Aaron Woodley's feature Rhinoceros Eyes (03). He has directed several shorts, including the stop-motion animated film The Nose (08). Edison & Leo (08) is his first feature film.

Cadillac People's Choice Award