Interview with Ian McKellen

Filmed on Vancouver Island, British Columbia and London, UK
Principal Photography Completed 18 December 2002

Written and directed by Carl Bessai

Emile, born in a farming community of Saskatchewan, emigrates to academic life in the United Kingdom, where he stays for 40 years. On retirement, he revisits his homeland and discovers his family there.

Emile began principal photography on November 25, 2002 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Written and directed by Carl Bessai, the film is part three of the identity trilogy, which began with Johnny and Lola.

Each of these stories is told from the point of view of a central character faced with a crisis about their identity. Johnny follows a teenager, Lola follows a woman in her thirties, and Emile follows an older man who seeks redemption from a family he abandoned years ago.

Nominated for the Genie Award
Best Actor

A broad stylistic combination of cinema verité and magic realism, Emile oscillates between Emile’s life in the present as he tries to reconnect with family, and the past which continues to haunt him. Like many in their twilight years, the past is sometimes more familiar and more immediate to Emile than the world before his eyes in the present. As he tries to rediscover a relationship that he long ago abandoned, he is forced to confront his anxieties for people in his memory – people he betrayed and abandoned at the expense of his own happiness. Now, at age 65, he is discovering his own identity. Can he be a grandfather, surrounded by the love of a living, breathing family, or will he retreat into the glassy world of memory and lost opportunity?

Using a strong cast, Emile tackles themes of loss, memory and identity in an intimate character study. Stylistically, the film combines elements of direct cinema, with magic realism, to create a dynamic relationship between past and present.

Ian McKellen as Emile
Also starring Deborah Kara Unger, Tygh Runyan, Chris William Martin, Ian Tracey, and Theo Crane

Director Carl Bessai
On the set of Emile
December 2002
Click to enlarge
Ian McKellen on the set of Emile
Victoria BC December 2002
Photo By Keith Stern