Unnatural & Accidental is a very difficult film loosely based on real events--a series of rape-murders of First Nations women in Vancouver. Because the murder weapon is alcohol, and because the victims are First Nations, prostitutes, and drunks, the authorities dismiss the deaths as "unnatural and accidental" -- self-induced, tragic, entirely expected. In place of official investigation is the main character, Rebecca, and her search for her long-missing mother. Often described as "hallucinatory," the film uses a wildly unstable timeline as it cuts between Rebecca's search and scenes of Norman, the murderer, as he goes about his life and crimes. Norman's victims appear throughout, both in death scenes and interactions with Rebecca that lead her towards the truth.
Norman is a mechanic and a heavy drinker who, somewhat inexplicably, leads what appear to be AA sessions and motivational/educational seminars for alcoholics and inmates. Norman's evil is explicit in both speech and action, is justified through racist and sexist rhetoric, and he seems to find his crimes both funny and fun.
And, yes, of course, Callum plays Norman.
(There's also a behind-the-scenes thingie called The Making of Unnatural & Accidental, in which Callum appears in costume but not in character. ♥)
The IMDB page: Unnatural & Accidental (2006)
Directed and produced by Carl Bessai (Johnny, Lola, Emile) who later directed Callum in Normal. Based on a play (The Unnatural and Accidental Women, in turn based on RL events) by Marie Clements, who also wrote the screenplay and has a role in the film. Most of the victims are played by Vancouver stage actors; few have extensive filmographies.
Cast / Characters (order mostly chosen by me, not as in credits):
Callum Keith Rennie
Runtime: 90 min
IMDB rating: 4.8/10
Genre: Crime / Drama / Mystery
Keywords: Native Canadian, Skid Row, Binge Drinking, Female Nudity, Drunken Sex, Coma Rape, Based on Play, Based on True Story
2007 Genie for "Best Achievement in Music - Original Song" to Jennifer Kreisberg For the song "Have Hope."
2007 Leo for "Best Lead Performance by a Male in a Feature Length Drama" to Callum Keith Rennie.
2007 Leo for "Best Picture Editing in a Feature Length Drama" to Julian Clarke.
2007 Leo for "Best Supporting Performance by a Female in a Feature Length Drama" to Margo Kane.
2006 Vancouver International Film Festival Best Western Canadian Feature Film - Special Citation to Carl Bessai.
2006 Vancouver International Film Festival Women in Film Award to Carmen Moore.
There is only one user comment on IMDB.
I recently saw this at the 2007 Palm Springs International Film Festival. It's a dramatized film version of Marie Clements' stage play The Unnatural and Accidental Woman. The term comes from the official cause of death being unnatural and accidental referring to the deaths of 10 native Canadian women on Vancouver's east side in the 1980's from acute alcohol poisoning. The women were known heavy drinkers of skid row and it was assumed they had died from self-induced over indulgence until it was learned that a common acquaintance of them had been seen with them before their deaths. In the actual story, career criminal Gilbert Paul Jordan was a former barber who was an alcoholic and craved alcoholic sex with hookers. He would get them drunk until they passed out and have sex with them and continue to pour alcohol down their throats. Jordan is depicted here as a mechanic. In this dramatization of the core of that story the film has the daughter of one of the victims going into the skid row district to search for her long missing mother and with the help of the spirits of the victims she is driven to find her mother or the killer. This is a fictionalized account of the story and may seem far-fetched but truth can be stranger than fiction which led Clements to write the play. Carl Bessai directs with good performances from Carmen Moore, Callum Keith Rennie and Tantoo Cardinal. This is a good film and may be worth checking out. I would give this a 7.0 out of 10.
Comment by "johno-21" found here. There's also an interesting user review on Amazon.com here.
Callum Quotient: 60%
Caps by scriggle.
The trailer is available on YouTube here.
- Nude!Rita to clothed!Rita: There's no rush. No rush at all for Indians like us. There's a long lineup on the other side anyways. Why don't you wait around a while? See what you can get up to.
- Pathologist: You know these people, it's almost like they're fated to end up here.
- Norman's buddy: You really like the dark ones, don't you?
Norman: Well, I like to get back to nature. Back at nature.
- Norman: You drink that, I'll give you twenty bucks.
Orange girl: Twenty bucks a drink?
Norman: It's a drinking game.
- Native Bartender: It'll be okay
Rebecca: Is that what you tell everybody?
Native Bartender: Yup, but nobody believes me.
Rebecca: Can you blame them?
Native Bartender: Nope, but times are changing.
Trivia, AKA Canadian Actor Bingo FTW:
- It was filmed over just 18 days, largely on location.
- It made NO money: $420 in its opening weekend in Toronto, $5,420 total domestic box office.
- Marie Clements (play/scriptwriter) appears in the film as "Native Bartender," a character who also appears at the party preceding Pink Girl's death and, later, among a group of Norman's victims.
- Nathaniel Arcand (Handsome Native Man) appeared on the due South ep "The Mask" as David Kitikmeot.
- Benita Ha appears, uncredited, as Lee. She played Pipefitter's girlfriend in Hard Core Logo, and appeared in a Da Vinci's Inquest ep, Paycheck, and the someday upcoming Case 39, all with Callum.
- Evan Adams (Thomas Builds-the-fire in Smoke Signals) appears as Transvestite Man.
- Norman leading an AA-type meeting, waxing philosophical on alcohol and spiritual emptiness.
- In separate scenes, Norman grabs BOTH Red Girl's and Pink Girl's tits. (Somebody needs to start a list of documented Callum boob-honking.)
- Norman telling Blue Girl a story about a fawn (weird mirroring of For Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down).
- Norman/Callum's bare ass. (Edited so could be a body double, sadly.)
- Unzipping shot.
- Norman's scrapbook-of-death includes several ridiculously hot pics of Callum.
Do I want to show this to my parents / friends / co-workers?
It's... interesting. Good intentions and interesting cast and stuff.
If there's nothing on TV, maybe.
It hurts my soul.
It hurts my soul AND it's a bad movie.
Pffft. You should have seen this snuff flick I saw the other day.
It could have been more violent?
There's not that much SPLATTER. Mostly.
It's a movie with explicit murder and explicit rape. There's violence.
Okay, so I'm not cutting the polls
because polls are fun
but, seriously, humor?
There may be funny moments. Wry, painful grins
But this is not the movie you go to for chuckles, okay?
Humor, attempt two
Hoo, boy, yes. Big laughs here.
Inadvertent humor, sadly. (The kids' photos, anyone?)
There's a chuckle or two.
Norman thinks it's funny.
Um, no. Not funny.
No, seriously. Can we engage the question of
sex v. violence with regard to rape
in a poll?
There's a ton of nudity and a couple scenes of simulated penetration
But very little by way of consensual sex.
Sexual content, attempt two
Nope, no sexual content
A little bit of sexual content
Boobies and groping
Boobies and groping and ass
Lots of sexual content, yes
I had my eyes closed and my fingers in my ears and also I was watching "Bambi." So, no.
I had my eyes closed.
Yeah, okay, a lot.
It's hard to imagine how there could be more. (That is not a challenge, Callum, for fuck's sake.)
He's a big fluffy teddy bear bunny love muffin.
I think maybe the other guy did it.
He's just misunderstood.
He is one of the most evil characters I've ever seen or ever hope to see.
How many people does he kill?
None. Norman is such a good boy.
One-ish? Eyes closed, remember. Also, fingers in ears.
Three-ish? It's kind of hard to tell with the crosscutting and with murder by alcohol
Five to ten at least.
A lot. A lot lot. OW.
How crazy is he?
He's fine. No crazy here!
He's internally coherent, at least?
No foaming at the mouth. Much.
He's pretty darn crazy.
He's either very very crazy or very very evil or very very both
But is he pretty?
Let's use our fannish powers to separate Callum's from Norman, okay?
I can not do this separation you speak of. Ick!
He's all right. A little worn, a little drab, a little old, but Callum.
He's a good looking man all right.
He's smokin'. Callum, baby, you still got it.
Oh, totally. He wants to fuck men, and since he doesn't, he acts out. HEALING POWERS OF BUTTSEX, ACTIVATE.
That scene where he's sharing his trophies with his buddy is creepily sexualized.
Norman isn't sexual; he's violent.
He takes out his violent sexual impulses exclusively and obsessively on women
He's kind of the hetero answer to all the creepy queer villains in cinema.
Re: poll being crazycakes: Let's use our fannish powers to separate Callum's from Norman, okay? I originally wrote "Callum's appearance from Norman, okay?" but decided to separate Callum from Norman instead. And forget to take out the 's. Oops!
Does he die?
You really want to know? Are you sure? Really sure? Well, then. (highlight to read)
::Oh, hell yeah. Very much so.::
CKR: When I saw the women and met these women, and how important it was to them to tell this story, and how important it was on lot of different levels, I went, okay, like, I'm completely in.
Carmen Moore: Watching Callum... go from being Callum to Norman? Is terrifying.
CKR: I didn't want to complicate it by creating an interesting character. I was seeking more a flat, uh... an empty person.
Carl Bessai: He brings, even in his menacingness, a kind of bizarre, sympathetic, seemingly boyish kind of charm to the role, which makes it... unnerving.
CKR: For me to be... healthy I disconnect from it a lot, and in moments I trip right out and fall into some crazy place And when I'm done, I don't think about it, at all. And I actually don't think how the scene went, I don't think about if we did get what we wanted, I can't wait 'till it's over. Truly. Like, I mean, I love the people, I like working with them, but to come to work every day going, I'm going to rape this chick, now I'm a pedophile, now I'm...
It's, it's not a great place to be. And my girlfriend was in town for a little while, and there I am reading books about severed heads and asking her crazy questions, and she's, just, "Can you stay away from me?"
CKR: You kind of want to slow it down to your own pace, so in moments, because of the speed of shooting, the speed of, the freneticness of Carl, I've gotten a bit frustrated at times, but you know, and with me needing to know maybe too much, or whatever. But it seems to have resolved itself all the time, it doesn't get loaded down. It sort of diffuses at a certain point.
From The Making of U&A, transcribed by c_regalis.
'Don't people have a right to the culture they're paying for?'
The director of Normal wonders why governments invest in films but do nothing to promote their commercial appeal
Globe and Mail, February 8, 2008 at 4:06 AM EST
VANCOUVER — With about a week to go before his film Normal opened in theatres, Vancouver director Carl Bessai wasn't exactly brimming with optimism about its box-office prospects. Experience has taught him to keep his expectations low. When his last film, Unnatural & Accidental, opened in late 2006, its first weekend in Toronto brought in a grand total of $442.
"My grandmother's home movie could make more than that," Bessai said last week in a Vancouver coffee shop. "No one went."
While it remains to be seen if Normal can draw more viewers to its screens, it's a film Bessai is exceedingly proud of. It's based on a script he has been working with since 2003, and a story that comes out of a real-life, Vancouver-area tragedy.
Shot last year in Victoria, the film examines the emotional carnage left behind by an early, tragic death. Two years after a teenager is killed in a car crash, those connected to him struggle to cope: his family, his friends, the person responsible. The film also examines the impact beyond the tight circle of grief: How are others, one step removed, affected by the tragedy?
The film stars Carrie-Anne Moss as the grieving mother. Surrounded by opulence in her monster home, she is quietly consumed by heartache while her husband plays golf, puts in time at the office and barbecues.
Meanwhile, the victim's best friend (Kevin Zegers) returns home from jail, where he served time for car theft, to find himself friendless, almost unemployable and the object of his father's derision.
The original story comes from Travis McDonald, who has walked in these shoes. In April, 1998, he was out with his best friend, Chris Kucher, walking near the airport in Richmond, B.C., when Kucher, 21, was struck and killed by an SUV.
An aspiring screenwriter, McDonald, also 21 at the time, began writing - but not a based-on-a-true-story script.
"I never looked at it as a rehashing of events. It was kind of something [that] was an entirely different story that grew out of the experience," McDonald, now 31, said last week from Toronto, where he is working on the CTV series The Listener.
He says writing the script was an important part of his healing process. "I think the biggest thing that it helped me with," he said, "is seeing it through other people's eyes."
In Normal, the ripple effects of the teen's death range from obsessive cleaning to illicit affairs to an inability to leave one's apartment. The film relies heavily on its performances. Despite a tight, 20-day shoot last March and April, Bessai tried to give his actors time to simply be in the space and to improvise their scenes.
He's pleased with the results - but worried that few people will see it.
Bessai has been lobbying for changes to domestic film policies - and attitudes. He chairs the First Weekend Club, an organization that encourages people to see Canadian films on their opening weekends so they have a shot at sticking around for a second week in theatres.
But he believes that legislative intervention is necessary to give Canadians access to the films supported by their tax dollars. He doesn't understand a system that funds the making of films but then doesn't do anything to helpthem get shown in theatres.
"This is my sixth movie, so I've had six of these experiences," Bessai says. "And you know what? It's like you get a little bit numb after a while. You stop investing in the hope that your film will actually stay in the theatres. You know it won't."
Without subsidies or quotas, what's the incentive, he asks, for theatres to show an unknown Canadian film instead of a Hollywood movie with more obvious box office potential? "They'll say 'We can play a blockbuster with no advertising, no work, do nothing and everyone will come, or we can take your stupid Canadian movie and no one's going to come.' "
The Canadian-versus-American issue looms large in Bessai's career - and not just on the exhibition end. As a Vancouver director, he finds himself competing for resources - in particular crews - against Hollywood blockbusters that ride into town with bigger budgets. It means, Bessai says, that domestic productions rarely have access to the best crews, and small production companies like his are expected to match the prices the big studios offer for location rentals (part of the reason, along with bigger tax breaks and gorgeous scenery, he shot Normal in Victoria instead of Vancouver). It's enough to make a director feel like a second-class citizen in his own city.
When Bessai was shooting his film Lola in 2001, he arrived on location and overheard one of the extras tell another that the film was "one of those low-budget Canadian pieces of crap." Amazingly, he did not fire the extra (who apologized when Bessai introduced himself as the director). But afterward, Bessai decided that he would never again hire people who feel, by working on his film, that they're "slumming."
These days, Bessai is drawing a lot of inspiration from Sarah Polley and the success of her feature directorial debut, Away From Her. In the 1990s, Bessai was a camera assistant on Road to Avonlea, in which Polley starred. She was a kid then, an adolescent. Now, to Bessai, she personifies the possibilities for Canadian filmmakers: "She's fulfilled my lifelong ambition as a director [to be nominated for an Oscar] with her first movie in her 20s, so how can one not be awed in some way?"
Bessai is now shooting a super-low-budget project, funded by the $12,000 that he received when Normal won the Western Canada Feature Film Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival. His new film is one of the few productions shooting in Vancouver at the moment. Not that Bessai needed a U.S. writers strike - or its impact on the local production scene - to prove the worth of Canadian film.
"I believe in the domestic film culture," he says. "I can't be a colonial, I can't be someone who just sits here with no voice and just continues to digest Americana - Canadians have a right to their own stories."
"Sure you talk to people who run other theatres and they have things like world cinema mandates," he continues. "Fine. Show some world cinema. Just show a little of our own cinema too, because who else is going to? Are they going to have retrospectives of Atom Egoyan films in Sweden? Maybe, but what about here? Don't people have a right to the culture they're paying for? 'Cause you're paying for it. You invested in my film. Normal's your film."
Normal opens today in Toronto and Vancouver.
Article available for purchase here.
CKR: A friend of mine said that you have to choose to be the hero. And you have to do that in your life as well. In my career it seemed to start out playing a lot of hero type characters and then it sort of moved off into some sort of darker, villainous place. And then recognizing it, as part of, you know maybe--that that challenge has been accomplished and now move off into a different direction
But I think it's always continually informing you about what and who you are, and I think that you gain from it because you have to examine the good and bad of yourself. In almost all the work that I've chosen to do there's a part of me that's, you know--say, working on the Carl Bessai movie right now where the character is quite vile and evil and you go, okay, what part of me is that? And you look at it. And, you know, recognize it. You don't have to hold on to it but you see it in yourself and then you see it in the world and you see it in society.
It's an okay place to be for a month but after that, it's not.
So process is such a hard thing to define for me because it seems to change on every show. There's always a--given the time frame to work, given if it's from a novel, if it's--just, how, how, how to approach it.
Like I'm working on a movie now that's a serial killer. But I didn't get the job until the Friday. I read the script a month before. But you don't really start work until someone says you're going to do it or you say you're going to do it and that's all agreed upon. So that's been a real scramble of trying to find an honesty and a reality to that type of character.
I find that I don't judge the characters negatively because I can always find something positive about them no matter how bad they are, or their actions are bad but they might not be bad. It's making sort of points like that like, and then say there's, in this Carl Bessai's movie that I'm doing right now, there's this detachment from having read a lot about these types of characters, where I'm in it and out of it at the same time.
Say playing a serial killer, you're caught in that--you're in a world. You're in a world where the mind is friable, where people are disposable, where you're thinking about a society where there's a percentage of people in the world who do certain things. And it's terrible but it's the world we live in. So, without judgment, you try to look at it. But it's not where one wants to be for that long. But there's information in it. For me when I look at the world and I look at the problems down in certain areas of most major cities. How people become victims, how people evolve into predators, all of those things.
It's a fine balance between playing somebody who's a terrible charact--who has a terrible behavior and still making him likeable. And still making him human enough that you go, 'We see ourselves in that person. We recognize that in ourselves.' And to me I like that. I like that it doesn't move too far one way. That you get something from it rather than people able to say 'That person is that.' That there's qualities in everyone that are negative and positive and so finding, some have more and less.
There's just that fine balance between picking and choosing when it works and when it doesn't.
Excerpts from "Name of the Game with Callum Keith Rennie."
Unnatural and Accidental disappearances of Eastside women make a disturbing film
Wednesday, October 11th, 2006
UNNATURAL AND ACCIDENTAL
Vancouver International Film Festival
by Sana Shahram
The thesis of Unnatural and Accidental is established in its opening scene when a dying aboriginal prostitute remarks “there’s no rush at all for Indians like us.” The story goes on to explore one of Canada’s most disgraceful stories of neglect and abuse towards women that is still unfolding today.
Directed by Canadian auteur Carl Bessai, the film is adapted from the Marie Clements’ stage play The Unnatural and Accidental Women and follows the story of Rebecca (Carmen Moore) as she attempts to fulfill her father’s dying wish of finding her missing mother. Searching for her mother in Vancouver’s DTES, she is guided by the spirits of ten women, who gradually lead her to the killer still walking the streets.
The film is as shocking as it is inflammatory. In 1996, government statistics showed that aboriginal women between the ages of 25 and 44 were five times more likely than other women of the same age to die as a result of violence. Despite these statistics and ongoing work by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), concerns regarding the safety of aboriginal women have yet to receive the necessary attention.
When asked if he felt that his movie could change the current situation, Bessai responded, “I don’t think a movie is going to change anything, but it gives people the opportunity to think about something, to talk about something and you have to hope that that leads to change.” He added that it is important to look at these occurrences and that “we have to let art help us understand these things and dialogue about these things.”
Actress Carmen Moore claims that the controversial trial of Robert Pickton, who has been charged with the deaths of several women from the Downtown Eastside spurred her desire to play the role of Rebecca: “I was horrified and shocked that I hadn’t heard enough of this story and that people knew Robert Pickton’s name, but who talks about the women? I didn’t want these women to be forgotten, I didn’t want them to be dismissed and I was very eager to be a part of the telling of this story so that that doesn’t happen.”
The film was shot over 18 days, with half the shoot spent on Vancouver’s DTES. Throughout filming, the cast and crew were constantly confronted with their own prejudices and ignorance on the subject. At one point, Moore actually broke down in tears when she witnessed a young woman, without shoes, pull down her pants and stick a needle in her leg. When approached by a prostitute during filming, Bessai immediately assumed that the woman was begging for cash and was surprised to learn that she was only trying to compliment him on some of his previous works that she had seen.
“You think of someone and you judge them, and then you listen to them for a few minutes and suddenly you realise they’re human,” he said. “They go home, they rent a video, they talk to their friends, they’re just trying to talk to you right now. And, you get caught in this misunderstanding, and it’s kind of horrible, because it implicates you a bit.”
Much of this carries over to the film as it progresses and slowly incriminates authorities and regular citizens responsible for the existence of the killer, Norman. ”How does a guy like that exist?” Bessai asked. “He exists because of all of us, because we let him exist. Because we assume that these women must have fallen over drunk one night because that’s what they do…No one’s to blame, right?”
The story comes to a poignant conclusion as the murderer’s death is reported on the front page of the paper, where he is referred to as a victim. This is in direct contrast with the previous newspaper clippings in the film, where the deaths of ten aboriginal prostitutes are briefly referred to as “unnatural and accidental” on the back pages of the newspapers. Bessai explained that examples of this bias exist everywhere in the media, referring specifically to the recent kidnapping of a young man in Shaughnessy that garnered the attention of the media.
”It’s like the world stops when some Shaughnessy kid or some nice girl from West Van disappears but the reality is that everyday there are people that are going missing.” Bessai goes on to speculate that the reason for the lack of media attention to the disappearances of aboriginal women is that “these are the undesirables, these are the people it’s sort of really easy to not worry about it.”
Bessai assumes a heavily stylistic approach, as each prostitute has a distinctive colour sequence to separate her from the others, and each sequence shifts to a grainy texture when violence enters their lives. It is a disturbing reminder to Vancouverites of the injustices that occur against aboriginal people across Canada.
Most importantly, Unnatural and Accidental magnifies the humanity in these often dehumanised inhabitants of our city, and leaves the audience feeling guilty. They feel propelled, however, by a feeling of empowerment through education.
Category: News and Politics
Gilbert Paul Jordan, a wealthy 72-year-old former barber... has been linked to the deaths of 10 women who have died suddenly of alcohol poisoning. Jordan would prey on the vulnerable in Vancouver's seedy Downtown Eastside, ply them with dangerous amounts of booze, have sex with them and then watch them die. Three of the women were found in his barbershop; four died in flop hotel rooms he had rented.
At the time, most of the deaths were declared accidental overdoses of alcohol, even though Jordan was involved in reporting many of them -- after consulting his lawyer. But almost all his victims were native alcoholics, and authorities seemed to care as little as he did.
"They were all on their last legs," he coolly told a Vancouver reporter in 2000. "I didn't give a damn who I was (drinking) with. I mean, we're all dying sooner or later."
Jordan has been convicted of manslaughter just once, in the 1987 death of Vanessa Lee Buckner, 27, who was found naked on a hotel room floor after a heavy drinking binge with Jordan. Her blood alcohol level was more than 11 times the legal limit for driving. Court heard that, as black liquid oozed from her mouth and nose, Jordan fled their hotel room and left her alone to die.
"He poisons them first and then has sex with them," Buckner's angry father, Nick Basaraba, said yesterday. "No parent should have to go through this."
A month after her death, police found Jordan's fingerprints in another Skid Row hotel where Edna Shade's nude body was discovered. Police had him under surveillance 11 days later when they rescued another woman from his hotel room.
"Down the hatch, baby. Twenty bucks if you drink it right down," police overheard Jordan telling her. "You want another drink? I'll give you 50 bucks if you can take it."
Jordan was arrested, but charged only with Buckner's death.
An alcoholic who consumes more than 50 ounces of vodka a day, Jordan has a criminal record dating back to 1952 that includes convictions for rape, indecent assault, abduction, hit and run, drunk driving and car theft. He has been in and out of jail countless times for breaching his probation after being found drinking in the company of women -- usually native alcoholics.
"Sober people wouldn't go out with me so I didn't have much option," he explained during his 1988 trial. "I didn't want to drink in my room all by myself."
His quest for drunken sex was insatiable. By his own estimation, he was with 200 women a year, hunting for his prey in the city's seediest dives. In 2000, he was acquitted of sexual assault. A few months later, he was charged again in Victoria with sexual assault and administering a noxious substance -- alcohol. Those charges were eventually stayed (and today he still walks a free man).
- Michelle Mandel
..Watching the Drunk Girls Die,.. Toronto Sun, Fri, August 13, 2004
The feature film UNNATURAL & ACCIDENTAL has been inspired by true events, however significant elements have been fictionalized. The incidents that have come to light are part of a larger pattern of violent assaults, murders and disappearances of Indigenous women across Canada. It is estimated that over the past twenty years more than five hundred Indigenous women may have been murdered or gone missing in circumstances suggesting violence.
Pointed out by neu111, found here
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities
When I first read UNNATURAL & ACCIDENTAL, I knew that we had found something that was special. It is a script that doesn't read like any of the other scripts I had read. It was as though the writer had come from a strange planet where screenplays didn't exist. Marie wrote something from out of the ether that she felt strongly about, without paying any
attention to conventions, to rules, to formulas and film clichés.
The most refreshing thing about the film is that it is a challenging read, which makes you read twice; makes you think carefully about what you are reading, to try and decipher the meanings, the relationships, and the movements between past and present.
It is an extremely visual read, one which takes a certain amount of imagination. It is a script that is entirely dependent on the execution by the director. UNNATURAL & ACCIDENTAL combines vivid elements of the art-house genre, with striking features of the commercial thriller genre. It is an artful portrait of loss, revenge, unresolved relationships and all of the wonderful character development typical of an art-house film, wrapped into the skin of a thriller.
By combining elements from these two streams of cinema, I believe that UNNATURAL & ACCIDENTAL can successfully bridge the gap between intelligent films that nobody ever sees and those films that insult the intelligence of the audience, but grab market interest nonetheless.
Our first challenge with this film, was finding such a large cast of aboriginal women to play the many diverse leading roles. On such a shoestring budget, it was difficult for us to be able to comb through the acting communities of larger 12 centers in the United States or Eastern Canada, limiting our search for the most part to the Vancouver acting community. A prior relationship between the screenwriter Marie Clements and the great Tantoo Cardinal gave us the chance to attach one of the greatest aboriginal performers in North America. Tantoo's participation as Rita/Aunt Shadie gave the film a lot of momentum, generating a great deal of enthusiasm amongst other actors in the community who were very excited about the chance to work alongside Tantoo.
In the end, our central cast was made up of a mix of newcomers and experienced performers, some drawn from the theatre community, like the wonderful Margo Kane (Mavis), others from the Television community, like Carmen Moore (Rebecca), one of the leads on the prime time series Godiva's.
Perhaps the most difficult actor challenge was casting the central antagonist Norman. This is not a very nice role, and I could not think of too many actors who would be willing or even capable of playing the necessary darkness that this character demands. Of all the Canadian actors I know, Callum Keith Rennie was the man whose body of work showed the most promise in this role, but even Callum was reluctant to play such a dark character. After lengthy discussions, and a period of time where both of us were given an opportunity to express our thoughts about the script, the approach to the role, the way in which we would shoot the more difficult scenes, Callum came on board. When I look at the finished film, I am so relieved that Callum agreed to play this role. His deep understanding of the darkness that motivates Norman gives every scene in the film enormous credibility.
Also pointed out by neu111, found here
Unnatural & Accidental has a (hee!) MySpace, with the trailer and several posts about the subject matter.
The song "Have Hope" is available here.
scriggle posted four U&A picspams. The first two follow the film chronologically but leave out material that's especially graphic or spoilery.
Picspam 1 and picspam 2
Separately, she made a post of the spoilery and graphic, including violence and Callum's bare ass.
Finally, she posted a picspam of the material from The Making of Unnatural & Accidental, in which Callum is dressed as Norman but not in character.
'The Making of U&A' picspam
lamentables posted U&A meta here.
U&A is widely commercially available, try Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Unnatural & Accidental is endlessly contradictory; it frustrates just about every viewing pleasure you can think of, but it's not easy to dismiss, and is easy to analyze obsessively. Coherent plot progression is thrown out the window in favor of play with timelines and the afterlife, frustrating a viewer expecting it to follow a crime procedural pattern, or, you know, make sense. Between the difficult subject matter and creative decisions designed to put the viewer disconcertingly in the action (alcohol and drunkenness in particular are pictured vividly), it can be an unsettlingly engrossing experience. It tries to do some smart, necessary, interesting things in giving a voice to the victims, but how it does so is technically jarring and often laughable.
I find Rebecca badly written and the actress playing her (Carmen Moore) nearly unwatchable. This contrasts painfully with the uniformly solid and often incredibly compelling secondary characters/victims. I have some questions about Tantoo Cardinal's character, but she's always a pleasure to see, while Michelle Thrush, Sophie Merasty, Trina Sxwithul'Txw, and Margo Kane all have moments of utterly rocking my socks.
Callum looks great--grey-haired and not babyfaced, but lean and pretty and CALLUM--and has lots of screentime, but his character is utterly un-crushable. I've got to admire Callum for taking the role and doing such a terrifyingly good job with it; the film had admirable and interesting intentions, though frustratingly mixed execution.
If you can handle the difficult subject matter, I think it's well worth seeing at least once, and the confusing bits improve on rewatching, but it definitely resists fannish squee.
If anybody has any more links to suggest, that would be fabulous.