Canada's Top Ten - Bethune: The Making of a Hero @ TIFF, Toronto [21 January]

Canada's Top Ten - Bethune: The Making of a Hero

15:30 - 17:30

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350 King Street W., Toronto, Ontario M5V3X5
Join us at Canada's Top Ten Film Festival for a special 35mm of Phillip Borsos' screening of Bethune: The Making of a Hero –– staring Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren.

Having made his feature debut in 1982 with a biopic about an outlaw (The Grey Fox, still the best Canadian western ever made), Phillip Borsos elected to chronicle one of this country's most internationally beloved figures, Dr. Norman Bethune, whose political and humanitarian beliefs led him to volunteer during the Second Sino-Japanese war, tending to civilians and soldiers helping bring Western medicine to China.

Based on Ted Allan's script and starring Academy Award honouree Donald Sutherland (in one of the most layered performances of his illustrious career), Bethune: The Making of a Hero was the largest publicly funded Canadian movie at the time, shot in rural China under exceedingly difficult conditions.

The Bethune of the film is complicated to say the least: he's irascible and thoroughly convinced he's on the righteous path, yet cannot help but put himself in danger to help people. This sophisticated approach to character lifts the film beyond hagiography and into historical epic, though Borsos and his collaborators are very conscious of the fact that even historical figures have intimate moments (witness Bethune's eventual meeting with Mao).

Unfairly viewed with suspicion by film critics at the time (many felt that Canadian films and figures didn't belong on this kind of scale), it remains one of the most ambitious, courageous, and stirring films to emerge out of the 1980s.

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