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