This month on Hollywood Suite, cinephiles will be treated to two newly restored classics from the Canadian film canon. The stunning 4K restoration of Tales From the Gimli Hospital (1988) from visionary director Guy Maddin will have its broadcast premiere on November 9, 2022, and the 2K digital remaster of Zale Dalen‘s cult hit Skip Tracer (1977) will follow on November 29, 2022. Both titles are available to stream on demand.
The Maddin restoration is part of a broader movement to make hard to find Canadian art-house films accessible to a new generation of movie lovers. In Maddin’s surrealist, Manitoban-set feature debut Tales from the Gimli Hospital, a lonely fisherman stricken with smallpox (Kyle McCulloch) embarks on a fierce competition with a fellow patient (Michael Gottli) to vie for the affections of Gimli Hospital’s angelic young nurses. As part of Telefilm’s Canadian Cinema – Reignited initiative to restore and re-release Canadian films of historic and cultural importance, the Toronto International Film Festival hand-picked the restoration of Tales from the Gimli Hospital to premiere at this year’s festival.
Utilizing materials from Library and Archives Canada, the digital remaster of Skip Tracer was produced by Justin Decloux of The Great Canadian Cinema Library. Set in 1970s Vancouver, a debt collector (David Peterson) vies to win his company’s “Man of the Year Award” at any cost, only to be faced with the consequences of relentless and brutal tactics. Considered today to be an essential entry in the Canuxploitation oeuvre, Dalen’s feature film debut was the first Canadian film programmed at the New York Film Festival in 1979 and proved an exciting calling card for the young writer/director. It has been said to have influenced subsequent cult films including Alex Cox’s Repo Man (1984).
“Something that Canadian cinema excels at is a ready-made oddball, DIY, cult mode—both Guy Maddin’s Tales from Gimli Hospital and Zale Dalen’s Skip Tracer are prime examples of this,” says Alicia Fletcher, Producer of Originals and Curatorial Advancement at Hollywood Suite. “With their debut features, both directors proved their singular, surrealist penchants for genre and bucked the rules and expectations of commercial Canadian filmmaking. The restoration and accessibility of important works from Canada’s 70s and 80s cult canon has never been more important if we’re to understand and celebrate the past half century of Canadian filmmaking, for its ground-breaking moments.”
Hollywood Suite is proud to air both of these films as part of its efforts to bring Canadian films to as many Canadians as possible. Positioned at the intersection of history, art, culture, and cool, Tales from the Gimli Hospital and Skip Tracer provide a snapshot of our filmmaking past, and give context to our present.