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Canada, 1987 (MIFF 1992, Spotlight MacGillivray)

Director: William MacGillivray

Life Classes stands as the definitive 'life-trans-formed-by-art movie, and MacGillivray's most fully realized film to date, a gently satirical yet deeply moving portrait of self-discovery.

Mary, a young woman from the Gaelic region of Nova Scotia, decides to leave her hometown of Cape Breton after she falls preg­nant to an irresponsible boyfriend. Arriving in Halifax penniless, she supports herself and her child by working in a department store. To make ends meet, Mary reluctantly begins a modelling career for life-drawing classes, but eventually begins to draw for herself. Encour­aged by friends, she is soon developing her own artistic talents, abandoning her paint-by-numbers sets to draw her own sketches. In doing so, Mary discovers her own already con­siderable inner strengths and reconciles her relationship to her past, her family and the cul­ture which produced her. She may no longer wish to return to Cape Breton, havmg far out­grown its potential; however, Mary still seeks to maintain her links with its traditions and culture, and her proud fine of female ancestry.

"After a slow start. Life Classes erupts with an emotional strength that is nothing short of astonishing. Mary is asked by a New York conceptual artist to participate in a 80s version of a 'happening' — the sequence is a virtuoso display of filmmaking — and as Mary asserts her identity the film becomes a metaphor for the neccessity of foresaking the past, living in the present and looking to the future. The levels of insight Life Classes reaches are profound. This unique film asks a great deal; it delivers more than it demands" • Jay Scott, Toronto Globe and Mail

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