Date of Lecture: 1991-04-05
Phillip Borsos grew up on the West Coast and attended film school in Vancouver before embarking upon a career as an independent filmmaker. With his short films, innovative features and big-budget epics, most of which address West Coast subject matter, Borsos became a significant figure in the history of Canadian cinema before his early death in 1995 at the age 41. His first film after graduation, Cooperage (1975), won him a Canadian film award for best short, as did his following work, Spartree (1978). His third film, Nails (1979), garnered him an Academy Award nomination for best short film.
The acclaimed Grey Fox (1982) was Borsos’ debut feature. It chronicled the life of an aging Old West stagecoach robber who, after 33 years in San Quentin prison, is released into the 20th century. It won several Genie Awards and established Borsos’ hallmark cinematic style – carefully developed characters, low-key, believable performances often set within real time scenarios and spectacular cinematography. He followed Grey Fox with a dark, family-oriented Christmas drama One Magic Christmas (1985). In 1993, Borsos produced Bethune: The Making of a Hero (1993) starring Donald Sutherland. He followed Bethune with his last film, the poetic wilderness adventure, Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog (1995), during which he was diagnosed with leukemia.
In January 1996, the Pacific Cinematheque in Vancouver held a retrospective of Borsos’ films.