Patricia Rozema

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Patricia Rozema
Born (1958-08-20) 20 August 1958 (age 57)
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Occupation Film director
Years active 1985–present
Partner(s) Heather Conway
Children 2

Patricia Rozema (born 20 August 1958) is a Canadian film director and screenwriter.

Early life[edit]

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.[citation needed]

Film Career[edit]

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, 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. That same year, it was voted one of Canada’s ten best films ever as polled by 100 international critics.[citation needed]

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[citation needed] and was awarded a Prime Time Emmy[citation needed], the top award in North American television, for Outstanding Classical Music-Dance Program, as well as a Golden Rose, the top television award in Europe (1998).[citation needed]

She then directed the romance, When Night Is Falling in 1995 starring Pascale Bussières, and including Don McKellar and Tracy Wright.

Rozema’s next two films were made outside Canada. Mansfield Park (1999, U.K., Miramax) is a revisionist adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel of that name. Mansfield Park opened the 1999 World Film Festival in Montreal, the Chicago Film Festival, the Mill Valley Film Festival in San Francisco and was featured as a special presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival.[citation needed]

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. Happy Days is part of The Beckett Film Project (a project aimed at filming all of Beckett's plays), which includes work by directors David Mamet, Neil Jordan, Anthony Minghella and Atom Egoyan.

Throughout her career Rozema has written, directed, edited and produced a number of short films, including Passion: A Letter in 16mm (1985); Urban Menace (1986); Desperanto (1991) as part of Montreal Vu Par; This Might Be Good (2000) for the Toronto International Film Festival; and Suspect (2005) which was reproduced in the journal Alphabet City 10 – Suspect (MIT Press).

Her film credits also include White Room (1990) and When Night Is Falling (1995), which debuted in competition at the Berlin International Film Festival and won festival audience prizes around the world. It was voted one of the top 200 films of the 20th century "Top 200 of 2000" by the Chlotrudus Society of Independent Film. Also, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (2008), which she directed and ghost wrote, was based on the phenomenally successful American Girl book series. The film earned Rozema a Director’s Guild of Canada Award nomination for Best Director and New York Times critic A. O. Scott hailed Abigail Breslin for turning in one of the top five female performances of the year.

Rozema’s television credits include the pilot and two subsequent episodes of HBO’s groundbreaking dramatic series Tell Me You Love Me (2008), an episode of the critically acclaimed HBO series In Treatment (2010), and episodes of the Canadian television sitcom Michael, Tuesdays and Thursdays, scheduled to debut on CBC Television in fall 2011.[3]

Rozema and co-writer Michael Suscy received an Emmy 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).

Rozema's newest film Into the Forest, starring Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2015.[4]

Personal Life[edit]

Rozema is openly lesbian and has two daughters with her former partner, film composer Lesley Barber.[5][6] She is currently in a long-term relationship with Heather Conway, head of CBC-Radio.[7][8]


Year Film Director Producer Writer Notes
1984 Urban Menace (short) Yes
1985 Passion: A Letter in 16 mm (Short) Yes
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 Six Gestures, from series "Yo-Yo Ma, Inspired by Bach" Yes Yes
1997 The Shape I Think Yes Short
1999 Mansfield Park Yes Yes
2000 Happy Days Yes
1997 This Might Be Good Yes Yes Short
2008 Tell Me You Love Me Yes HBO pilot and two episodes
2008 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


  • Second prize at the Chicago International Film Festival for her short Passion: A Letter in 16 mm.
  • White Room earned 4 prizes, and 3 Genie nominations.
  • Yo-Yo Ma, Inspired by Bach Rozema's episode "Six Gestures" won a Prime Time Emmy Award and was nominated for a Grammy. (other contributors included Atom Egoyan)


  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. ^ "Camelot & cover songs: Inside CBC’s new fall lineup". National Post, 8 June 2011.
  4. ^ Snarker, Dorothy. "7 Queer Female Filmmakers to Watch for in 2015". Indiewire. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  5. ^ "Interview with Patricia Rozema, screenwriter for the upcoming Grey Gardens film". Retrieved 2015-10-16. 
  6. ^ "Patricia Rozema". IMDB. 
  7. ^ "Toronto’s 50 Most Influential: the people who changed the city in 2014". Toronto life. 
  8. ^ Houpt, Simon. "Does Heather Conway have what it takes to save the CBC?". The Globe and Mail. 
  9. ^ "Berlinale: 1995 Programme". Retrieved 2012-01-01. 

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