Films & Schedules

  • Passchendaele

  • Paul Gross

114 minutes

Production Company:
Rhombus Media/Whizbang Films/Damberger Film and Cattle Company
Niv Fichman, Frank Siracusa, Francis Damberger, Paul Gross
Paul Gross
Production Designer:
Carol Spier
Gregory Middleton
David Wharnsby
Jane Tattersall, Barry Gilmore, Dave Rose
Jan A.C. Kaczmarek
Principal Cast: Paul Gross, Caroline Dhavernas, Joe Dinicol, Meredith Bailey, Jim Mezon, Gil Bellows

Canadian Distributor:
Alliance Films
International Sales Agent:
Passchendaele Film Distribution Limited Partnership

TIFF Tags: Canada  War 

Thursday September 0406:30PM VISA SCREENING ROOM (ELGIN) Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Thursday September 0408:00PM ROY THOMSON HALL Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Friday September 0508:45AM RYERSON Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

One of the most stirring and ambitious films ever made in Canada, Paul Gross's Passchendaele recounts what may have been the most savage battle of the First World War. Participation in the Battle of Passchendaele was a pivotal moment in Canadian history that defined the nation in the eyes of the world for years to come. That acclaim came at a high price, however, and Canada's losses were great. Yet this is not simply a story about love of country, but one of love discovered amid the strife of war. Telling of a passion that endured despite cultural upheaval, vast distance and the tragedies of the battlefield, Passchendaele is as romantic as it is proud in its approach to this legacy.

Sergeant Michael Dunne (Gross) is sent back to the home front after he is wounded. While recuperating, he meets Sarah (Caroline Dhavernas), a stunning young nurse, and falls deeply in love with her. Like him, Sarah has been permanently scarred by the conflict. Her father was killed in the war, and she is terrified that her hotheaded younger brother David (Joe Dinicol) will soon be shipped to the trenches. When David is indeed sent to Europe, Dunne follows, determined to protect him.

A passion project for Gross, the film was based on stories told to him by his grandfather, a veteran of the war to end all wars. This deeply personal connection is evident in his direction. Passchendaele pays tribute to the foot soldier, privileging the world-weary Dunne's perspective on war. Having witnessed the horrors of combat, he is well aware that this gruelling form of fighting bears no glory. But what Gross finds in Dunne is a man capable of hope and devotion despite all. In his love for Sarah, the promise of a future beyond the clouds of war begins to take shape.

Gross captures a perfect balance, investing the battle scenes with a stunning ferocity but also crafting moments of remarkable beauty. Both Sarah and the resplendent prairie views remind Dunne of what he and his countrymen are fighting for. As an actor, Gross delivers a peerless turn, while promising young talents Dhavernas and Dinicol give marvellous performances.

Passchendaele is a unique achievement in Canadian film, and not only because of its scope. Too often, Canadians have a selfeffacing attitude toward their own achievements. This film flies in the face of that tendency, honouring the memory of those who fell for their nation.

Paul Gross was born in Calgary and is an actor, producer, director and writer. He studied acting at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. His acclaimed television work has earned him numerous Gemini Awards, and includes starring in and writing for the series Due South and starring in Slings and Arrows. He has directed the films Men with Brooms (02) and Passchendaele (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award