There is arguably no one greater or more distinguished in the landscape of Canadian film, television and performing arts than Gordon Pinsent. Through a nearly seven-decade career Pinsent has established himself as an actor, director, and writer of both screen and stage plays (not to mention novels and memoirs!). For Newfoundlanders, Pinsent seems to embody the very spirit of the province: gracious, hard-working, unphased by the lustre of the city (and Hollywood). There is a story about the filming of the 2001 film, THE SHIPPING NEWS, in which a resident of Trinity, NL excitedly walked right past Hollywood star Kevin Spacey in order to shake the hand of Gordon Pinsent. We Canadians, especially Newfoundlanders, recognise him as quintessentially one of us.
So it seems fitting that on National Canadian Film Day 150 (NCFD 150), a time when we’re looking back on Canada’s history, Pinsent’s illustrious career would be a focus for celebration. Films that feature Pinsent’s performances (such as AWAY FROM HER) will be shown all over the country for NCFD 150. But there are several events that will celebrate him in a more specific way, by screening his first major project as a writer/director: the 1987 film, JOHN AND THE MISSUS.
This hard-to-find film is not available on DVD or BluRay, so we love that NCFD 150 will give Canadians a chance to see it. Two special 30th Anniversary screenings are planned featuring a video introduction from Gordon Pinsent himself. The Nickel Film Festival in Pinsent’s home town of Grand Falls/Windsor will be hosting an event at the fittingly-named Gordon Pinsent Centre for the Arts, a venue that was renamed in his honour on the occasion of Pinsent’s 75th birthday and the town’s Centenary. A little further west down the TransCanada Highway, Corner Brook Arts & Culture Centre will play host to an event presented by the Nickel Film Festival.
If you’re lucky enough to be a guest at the one-of-a-kind Fogo Island Inn over NCFD, don’t miss your chance to see JOHN AND THE MISSUS showing as part of a whole day of films in the inn’s in-house cinema.
And finally, the Port Union Branch of the Toronto Public Library will host a screening, the film’s only showing outside of Newfoundland. So you might have the chance to see it even if you’re “from away.”
All of these events are free!
JOHN AND THE MISSUS is a small town drama adapted from Pinsent’s own novel of the same name. It follows the story of a local miner who stubbornly resists a government resettlement plan offering local workers cash to abandon their homes. This film hits close to home for many Newfoundlanders for whom this was the reality throughout much of the 20th century. It is a portrait of Newfoundland life that surely inspired later films like THE GRAND SEDUCTION—a film that also featured Pinsent! He pulled triple duty on JOHN AND THE MISSUS, having written and directed the film as well as starring in it for an end result that REEL CANADA’s Jack Blum describes as “the legendary Pinsent at his best and most fearless.”