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» Skogland takes on Laurence novel

by Playback Staff, published on September 3, 2007

Contemporary World Cinema: The Stone Angel
Director/Writer: Kari Skogland
Producers: Kari Skogland, Liz Jarvis
Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Christine Horne, Dylan Baker, Cole Hauser, Ellen Page, Sheila McCarthy, Kevin Zegers
Distributor: Odeon Films
International Sales: HandMade Films

‘It’s a woman’s journey of passion,’ says The Stone Angel writer/director Kari Skogland, eloquently summarizing her vision of Margaret Laurence’s beloved Canadian novel.

Set in the fictitious Manitoba town of Manawaka, The Stone Angel follows the dramatic course of one woman’s life as she succumbs to the pitfalls of pride and passion and struggles to assert her independence and to rebuild relationships with the men she almost unwittingly alienates in her life.

Skogland says her script focuses on telling protagonist Hagar Shipley’s ‘epic love story,’ both through her complex sexual relationships and the destruction of a family.

‘It’s about how well-intentioned, but poor choices, can cut the fabric of the family apart,’ Skogland says, cutting to the chase.

‘There are four sex scenes in the movie, because the story is about that. She loses her virginity. We don’t see that often in films. And it tracks the sex, and when [Hagar and husband Bram] get into inhibition.’

Skogland has lavish praise both for newcomer Christine Horne, who plays young Hagar, and for Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn, who plays the older Mrs. Shipley.

Horne is ‘the next Audrey Hepburn,’ declares Skogland. She recalls that when agents at the American Film Market previewed a six-minute trailer, they were falling all over each other to sign her, with Forest Whitaker’s management company winning out.

Despite the book’s diverse themes, extensive interior monologue and memories of the 90-year-old protagonist, Skogland decided to give the film a more contemporary feel. She didn’t want the present-day scenes being set in the ’60s, as the novel does, with flashbacks to Hagar’s younger years.

Shot in the fall of 2006, the $8.5-million feature makes its world premiere on Sept. 12 in TIFF’s Contemporary World Cinema showcase.

Coproducers are Skogland and Liz Jarvis of Winnipeg-based Buffalo Gal Films.

Stone Angel is distributed by Odeon Films in Canada. It was presold to CBC, The Movie Network and Movie Central.

Source: playbackonline.ca

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