Why Shoot the Picture? The Films of Fil Fraser

Felix (Fil) Fraser is an iconic figure in western Canadian film & television history. Since he came west, he has been involved with almost every film and TV institution in Alberta: he's on the board of Telefilm Canada, was the president of Vision TV, founded both the Banff Television Festival and the Alberta Film Festival (now the AMPIA Awards), and has been writing and broadcasting since the 1950s.

In the '70s, Fraser formed his own production company and began producing educational films for television; he later branched out and produced four feature films, released from 1977 to 1982. The Fraser oeuvre is marked by a desire for western Canadians to tell our stories for ourselves, a motive that accompanies the birthing of most healthy regional cinemas. The first film was Why Shoot the Teacher?, adapted from Max Braithwaite's novel of a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in Saskatchewan. It did exceptionally well: it screened at Cannes, opened widely in Canada, and was the highest grossing Canadian film of the year. A pair of biographical features followed about some decidedly western figures: Marie-Anne, about Louis Riel's grandmother, the first white woman in the West; and Hounds of Notre Dame, about Père Athol Murray, the hard-drinking teacher and hockey coach at Notre Dame College in Wilcox, Saskatchewan. The fourth film, Latitude 55º, reunited Fraser with the leads from Marie-Anne as the director and actress in a psychological two-hander about an Alberta arts bureaucrat stuck in a backwoods cabin. It is significant that Fraser et. al. chose to focus on stories that are so uniquely ours; no one else was going to stand up and make a film about Wilcox, or Fort Edmonton. It is by telling our stories for ourselves that we gain a sense of history and our place in it.

Note: These screenings are presented as part of the Edmonton International Film Festival. Tickets will be $12, the same price as other EIFF screenings. EIFF passes will be accepted, as will regular Metro passes.

Latitude 55

  • Oct 1 (2006) @ 9pm
"When I hear the word culture, I reach for my revolver." Wanda works for the Department of Culture, setting funding for arts groups throughout Alberta. So when her car gets stuck in a blizzard, having her rescuer (a strange old... view more

Hounds of Notre Dame

  • Oct 1 (2006) @ 7pm
Written by Ken Mitchell and funded in part by the alumni of Notre Dame college, Hounds of Notre Dame portrays 36 hours in the life of Père Athol Murray (Thomas Peacocke), a hard-drinking, chain-smoking Catholic priest, teacher, political activist and... view more


  • Sep 30 (2006) @ 9pm
This is the story of Marie-Anne Gaboury, the first white woman to live in Canada's west. She moved to Fort Edmonton with her husband, fur trader Jean-Baptiste Lagemodiere (John Juliani, who later directed Latitude 55º); she spent many years there... view more

Why Shoot the Teacher?

  • Sep 30 (2006) @ 7pm
One of the most successful films ever made in Canada, Why Shoot the Teacher? was adapted from Max Braithwaite's novel by Edmonton's own James Defelice, and went on to commercial and critical success around the world. It relates the frustrating... view more
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