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Patricia Rozema (born August 20, 1958) is a Canadian film director, writer and producer. She was part of a loosely-affiliated group of filmmakers to emerge in 1980s from Toronto known as the Toronto New Wave.

Patricia Rozema
Born (1958-08-20) August 20, 1958 (age 60)
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
OccupationFilm director, writer, producer, editor
Years active1985–present
Partner(s)Heather Conway


Early lifeEdit

Rozema was born in Kingston, Ontario and raised in Sarnia, Ontario. Her parents, Jacoba Berandina (née Vos) and Jan Rozema, were Dutch Calvinists.[1][2] Television was severely restricted and she did not go to a movie theatre until she was 16 years old. Rozema studied philosophy and English literature at Calvin College in Michigan.[3]

Film careerEdit

After a brief stint as a print and then television journalist (CBC Television’s The Journal), Rozema directed her first feature, I've Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987), a serious comedy about a socially inept Girl Friday (Sheila McCarthy as Polly), which made one of the most outstanding feature debuts in the history of Canadian cinema. At the 1987 Cannes Film Festival, I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing won the Prix de la Jeunesse.[3] In 1993, the Toronto International Film Festival ranked it ninth in the top 10 Canadian films of all time, with Rozema becoming the first female director to have a film on the list.[4] The film did not appear on the updated 2004 version.[5]

Rozema also directed the Six Gestures (part of the Yo-Yo Ma Inspired by Bach television series), which combined images of Yo-Yo Ma performing with skating sequences by Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean, interwoven with J.S. Bach's first-person narrative. Six Gestures was nominated for a Grammy and won a Emmy Award for Outstanding Classical Music-Dance Program, as well as a Golden Rose, the top television award in Europe. She then directed the romance film When Night Is Falling in 1995 starring Pascale Bussières, and featuring Don McKellar and Tracy Wright.

Rozema’s next two feature films were made outside Canada; Mansfield Park (1999) is a revisionist adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel of that name.[6][7] Happy Days (2000), an Irish production, is a film version of Samuel Beckett’s humorously despairing play in which a woman lives partially buried in a mound of sand.

She later directed and ghost-wrote Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (2008),[8] which was based on the American Girl book series. The film earned Rozema a Director’s Guild of Canada Award nomination for Best Director.

Rozema’s television credits include the pilot and two subsequent episodes of the HBO series Tell Me You Love Me (2008), an episode of the HBO series In Treatment (2010), and episodes of the Canadian television sitcom Michael, Tuesdays and Thursdays, which premiered on CBC Television in fall 2011.[9] She most recently worked as a director on the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle.[6]

Rozema and co-writer Michael Suscy received an Emmy Award nomination (Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special), a Writers Guild of America Award nomination (Long Form – Original) and a PEN USA Award nomination in Screenplay for the HBO movie Grey Gardens (2009).

Her feature film Into the Forest, starring Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2015.[10]

Her most recent feature, Mouthpiece (2018), premiering at TIFF, is an adaptation of a two-woman play created and performed by North Sadava and Amy Nostbakken, who also star in the film. Sadava and Nostbakken play dual versions of the same female protagonist, who struggles to find her voice while writing her mother's eulogy. A profile of Rozema in the Globe & Mail called it "her most directly political film" and added that "it also may be her most heartfelt and emotionally mature." [11]

In 2017, Rozema founded her own production company, Crucial Things, in order to co-produce Mouthpiece.[12]

Personal lifeEdit

Rozema is openly lesbian and has two daughters with her former partner, film composer Lesley Barber.[13][14] She is in a long-term relationship with Heather Conway, head of CBC Radio.[15][16]


Year Film Director Producer Writer Notes
1985 Passion: A Letter in 16 mm Yes Short
1986 Urban Menace Yes Short
1987 I've Heard the Mermaids Singing Yes Yes Yes
1990 White Room Yes Yes Yes Co-producer
1991 Desperanto Yes Yes Part of Montreal Stories
1995 When Night Is Falling Yes Yes
1996 At My Back I Always Hear Yes TV episode
1997 Yo-Yo Ma, Inspired by Bach: Six Gestures Yes Yes
The Shape I Think Yes Short
1999 Mansfield Park Yes Yes
2000 Happy Days Yes
This Might Be Good Yes Yes Short
2008 Tell Me You Love Me Yes HBO pilot and two episodes
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Yes
2009 Grey Gardens Yes Co-writer
2010 In Treatment Yes Frances – Week 3
2011 Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays Yes 3 episodes
2015 Into the Forest Yes Yes
2016 Mozart in the Jungle Yes 2 episodes ("My Heart Opens to Your Voice"; "Avventura Romantica")
2017 Anne Yes 1 episode ("Tightly Knotted to a Similar String")
2018 Mouthpiece Yes


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Wise, Wyndham (2001), Take One's Essential Guide to Canadian Film, University of Toronto Press, p. 185, ISBN 0-8020-8398-6
  2. ^ Patricia Rozema Biography (1958-)
  3. ^ a b Lucas, Ralph (2 June 2016). "The Polyphonic Nature of Patricia Rozema -". Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  4. ^ Handling, Piers (Fall 1994). "Canada's ten best". Take One. p. 23.
  5. ^ Gravestock, Steve (26 June 2015). "Essay". Toronto International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 4 July 2016. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  6. ^ a b Radio, Southern California Public (29 July 2016). "Director Patricia Rozema's "Into the Forest" wasn't easy to get made". Southern California Public Radio. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  7. ^ Voigts-Virchow, Eckart (1 January 2004). Janespotting and Beyond: British Heritage Retrovisions Since the Mid-1990s. Gunter Narr Verlag. p. 51. ISBN 9783823360964.
  8. ^ "Patricia Rozema heads 'Into the Forest' for realistic apocalypse". USA TODAY. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Camelot & cover songs: Inside CBC’s new fall lineup" Archived 29 January 2013 at National Post, 8 June 2011.
  10. ^ Snarker, Dorothy. "7 Queer Female Filmmakers to Watch for in 2015". Indiewire. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
  11. ^ "TIFF 2018: Patricia Rozema's Mouthpiece is her most directly political film yet". Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  12. ^ "TIFF 2018 Women Directors: Meet Patricia Rozema – "Mouthpiece"". Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  13. ^ "Interview with Patricia Rozema, screenwriter for the upcoming Grey Gardens film". Archived from the original on 17 July 2015. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  14. ^ "Patricia Rozema". IMDB.
  15. ^ "Toronto's 50 Most Influential: the people who changed the city in 2014". Toronto life.
  16. ^ Houpt, Simon. "Does Heather Conway have what it takes to save the CBC?". The Globe and Mail.
  17. ^ "Berlinale: 1995 Programme". Retrieved 1 January 2012.

External linksEdit