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WARRENDALE

Canada, 1966 (MIFF 1968, Programme 15)

Director: Alan King

A study of life at Warrendale, a home for emotionally disturbed children in Toronto. The story begins as the patients' day starts, showing them in bed, resisting the morning rays of light. Soon, the seemingly normal environment explodes with tantrums and shrieks. Each child is shown to be living in an emotional fortress bristling with hostilities, and the young staff try to disarm them with monumental patience. The film's climax occurs when the children are told that a beloved cook has suddenly died.

In this shattering document, no attempt was made by Alan King to fictionalize any of the events of the day. Quite by chance, the cook died, adding an element of drama not envisaged by the director. In the film's most subtle and affecting sequence, Warrendale focuses on the grieving faces of the children at the cook's funeral. There is a hint that these innocent, awkward, suffering creatures are at last inching closer to normal human response.

First Prize, Canadian Section, Montreal.

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