Who I Am

Patricia Rozema
(director, screenwriter, producer, editor)

SHORT BIO

Patricia Rozema's feature film credits include I've Heard the Mermaids Singing, White Room, When Night is Falling, Mansfield Park, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl and Grey Gardens among others. I've Heard the Mermaids Singing won the coveted Prix de la Jeunesse at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival. That same year, it was voted one of Canada’s ten best films ever as polled by 100 international critics. Rozema won an Emmy Award and was nominated for a Grammy for her film Six Gestures, part of the series Yo-Yo Ma: Inspired by Bach. Her television credits include the The Beckett Film Project's Happy Days, the pilot and 2 subsequent episodes of the HBO series Tell Me You Love Me, and most recently, an episode of the critically acclaimed HBO series In Treatment. Rozema received a PEN USA nomination and an Emmy nomination for outstanding writing for her work on the HBO movie Grey Gardens, starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore.

LONG BIO

Patricia Rozema is one of Canada’s most accomplished and internationally recognized filmmakers. Born in Kingston, Ontario, 1958 and raised in Sarnia, Ontario in a Dutch Calvinist immigrant family. Television was severely restricted and she didn’t go to a movie theatre until she was 16 years old. Rozema studied philosophy and English literature at Calvin College in Michigan. After a brief stint as a print and then television journalist (CBC’s The Journal), she directed her first feature, I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, a serious comedy about a socially inept Girl Friday (Sheila McCarthy as Polly), which made one of the most outstanding feature debuts in the history of Canadian cinema. At the 1987 Cannes Film Festival, I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing won the coveted Prix de la Jeunesse. That same year, it was voted one of Canada’s ten best films ever as polled by 100 international critics.

Rozema also directed the richly textured Six Gestures (part of the Yo-Yo Ma Inspired by Bach television series), which combined images of Yo-Yo Ma performing with skating sequences by Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean, interwoven with J.S. Bach's first-person narrative. Six Gestures was nominated for a Grammy and was awarded a Prime Time Emmy, the top award in North American television, for Outstanding Classical Music-Dance Program, as well as a Golden Rose, the top television award in Europe (1998).

Rozema’s next two films were made outside Canada. Mansfield Park (1999, U.K., Miramax) is a sophisticated revisionist adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel. The film is meticulously true to historical detail, while at the same time, a radical interpretation. Mansfield Park opened the 1999 World Film Festival in Montreal, the Chicago Film Festival, the Mill Valley Film Festival in San Francisco and was featured as a special presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Happy Days (2000), an Irish production, is a film version of Samuel Beckett’s humourously despairing play in which a woman lives partially buried in a mound of sand. Happy Days is part of The Beckett Film Project (a project aimed at filming all of Beckett's plays), which includes work by directors David Mamet, Neil Jordan, Anthony Minghella and Atom Egoyan.

Throughout her career Rozema has written, directed, edited and produced a number of short films, including Passion: A Letter in 16mm (1985); Urban Menace (1986); Desperanto (1991) as part ofMontreal Vu Par; This Might Be Good (2000) for the Toronto International Film Festival; and Suspect (2005)which was reproduced in the journal Alphabet City 10 – Suspect (MIT Press).
Her film credits also include White Room (1990) and When Night is Falling (1995), which debuted in competition at the Berlin International Film Festival and won festival audience prizes around the world. It was voted one of the top 200 films of the 20th century “Top 200 of 2000” by the Chlotrudus Society of Independent Film. Also, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (2008), which she directed and ghost wrote, was based on the phenomenally successful American Girl book series, starring Abigail Breslin, Stanley Tucci, Julia Ormond, Chris O’Donnell, Joan Cusack and Jane Krakowski. The film earned Rozema a Director’s Guild of Canada Award nomination for Best Director and New York Times critic A. O. Scott hailed Abigail Breslin for turning in one of the top five female performances of the year.

Rozema’s television credits include the pilot and two subsequent episodes of HBO’s groundbreaking dramatic series Tell Me You Love Me (2008), starring Jane Alexander, Adam Scott and Ally Walker and, most recently, an episode of the critically acclaimed HBO series In Treatment (2010), starring Gabriel Byrne and Debra Winger. 

Rozema and co-writer Michael Suscy received an Emmy nomination (Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special), a Writers Guild of America Award nomination (Long Form – Original) and a PEN USA Award nomination in Screenplay for the HBO movie Grey Gardens (2009), starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore.