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Canadian Content: Two Cronenbergs represent at this year’s Cannes Film Festival

Rachel Fox

April 20th, 2012

Canadians rightfully cling to auteur David Cronenberg as, perhaps, the best director this country has ever produced. Beyond his sheer talent and the incredible body of work he has amassed in the decades since he began his esteemed career, he is embraced and lauded by Canadians for the continued inclusion of his home and native land in his art. Unlike so many others, Cronenberg has never "gone Hollywood." His films are inherently bound to Canada beyond just the funding or production credits; Toronto serves as something of a muse and it's not unusual to see our colo(u)rful Canadian money used in his films. Simply put: Cronenberg counts as CanCon.

This morning's Globe and Mail ("Canada's National Newspaper") contains a great piece on Brandon Cronenberg, whose debut feature ANTIVIRAL will be screened at Cannes alongside dear old Dad's in May. Receiving the news yesterday, the 32 year-old Ryerson University alum said he was "shocked" upon learning of ANTIVIRAL's inclusion into the festival. "We didn't want to consider it too much of a real possibility. Naturally, Cronenberg the Elder was one of the first to congratulate Brandon on his incredible achievement. "Let's just say it's all very adorable there [at the Cronenberg household]."

ANTIVIRAL was borne from a "fever dream." Cronenberg explained that he was, "very sick and obsessing over the physicality of my illness, the fact that something in my body and cells came from someone else." After ruminating upon his own illness, he would grow the concept further, incorporating very contemporary themes of celebrity and obsession. "The intimacy of that obsession seemed like a good platform to talk about celebrity obsession."  These themes are now clearly represented in the soon-to-be finished film that is still in its final stages of editing.

The film, shot in and around Toronto and nearby Hamilton in 22 days with a $3.3 million dollar budget, follows clinician Syd March (Caleb Landry March) who harvests live viruses from sick celebrities to sell as injections to their committed fans. The film also stars Canadian actress Sarah Gadon (who appeared in David Cronenberg's A DANGEROUS METHOD and also has a role in his COSMOPOLIS, which is in competition for the Palme d'Or) and Malcolm MacDowell.

The premise alone suggests that "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree." According to ANTIVIRAL producer, Rhombus Media's Niv Fichman, "I think there was actually more blood than he [Brandon] might have first imagined." Teasing fans further, he adds, "There are lots of oozing sores and needles. Many, many scenes get under our skin."

The prospect of a possible Canadian dynastic film family - with  the Cronenberg pedigree - is exciting.  It's encouraging that Cronenberg the Younger seems to be carrying on so much of what makes his father's oeuvre beloved both domestically and abroad. Hopefully the Canadian film industry (and, more importantly, Canadian audiences)  will support, embrace, and champion this new addition to their country's film scene.

Source The Globe and Mail

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