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FAMILY VIEWING

Canada, 1987 (MIFF 1988)

Director: Atom Egoyan

One of the most talked about films of the year at international festivals, Family Viewing> is as extraordinary and surprising as it is original. Egyptian born, Canadian bred writer/director Atom Egoyan was only 27 when he made this, his second feature, on a miniscule budget of less than $A200,000.

It's a quintessentially eighties film displaying all the uneasiness of a Talking Heads song or a Don Delillo novel, observing with a cool voyeuristic eye the splitting of one atomic family, and the creation of a more satisfactory unconventional family structure in its place.

Humorous, unpredictable, complex and hugely inventive in its use of TV and video, this is the story of a family dislocated by modern technology. The family 'on view here is that of Van, an aimless, melancholy 19 year old searching for his roots. Sifting through the rubble of his personal history, Van realises that his father Stan, has buried all traces of his ex- wife (Van's mother) since she left them years ago. In one of the film's most telling scenes, Van discovers that Stan, a video equipment salesman has been literally erasing the family history (old tapes of the family that was) by recording over them his curious sexual pursuits with his new lover. Not surprisingly, Stan has also neglected his ailing mother-in- law, an embarrassing reminder of his past life, who is painfully unhappy in the nursing home where Van is her only visitor.

Video is central to the film, from TV and home movies to pornography and surveillance and Egoyan has shot substantial sections of the film on differing kinds of tape, creating different looks. All the scenes shot in Stan`s home (a semi-fashionable apartment) are shot on video, giving the effect of watching a twisted sit-com being played out before our eyes.

Family Viewing is many things - a perceptive look at questions of familial disintegration, the immigrant experience, sexual frustration and the ever-spreading contamination of the electronic media - but most of all, it's deeply and darkly funny. One thing it sure isn‘t, is family viewing.

See also...

IT CAME FROM KUCHAR

USA, 2009

2009
“We only make pictures because we need to and we have to.” - Mike Kuchar ... Compulsively reinterpreting 20th Century Fox spectacles of the 1950s in their Bronx apartment with an auntie's Super 8… More »

Man: A Passion Playground

Canada, 1986
While a woman orates on the excellence of the masculine gender, a field of males cheer and chant their appreciation in unison. ... More »

NEXT OF KIN

Canada, 1984
Canadian 'wunderkind' Atom Egoyan, a guest at last year's MFF with his breakthrough film Family Viewing, made his first feature in 1984. Invited for last year's festival but lost en-route from Cannes… More »

SPEAKING PARTS

Canada, 1989
... ... Writer and director Atom Egoyan's third and most recent film comes to us direct from its world premiere in the Director's Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival. It explores territory that wil… More »

ROADKILL

Canada, 1989
“THE CLASSIC NOTION of a road ... movie," says debut director Bruce ... McDonald, "usually has someone going ... on the mad for the slimmest of reasons, meeting a variety of characters and then hav… More »

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