Canadian Women Film Directors Database
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The Company of Strangers

Directed by Cynthia Scott
Canada, 1990 (fiction, 101 minutes, colour, English)
Also known as "Estranhos por companhia", "In compagnia di signore perbene", "Le fabuleux gang des sept", "Na Companhia de Estranhos", "Strangers in Good Company", "Unter Fremden", "Vieraiden seurassa"
The Company of Strangers
Photo © National Film Board of Canada
Video (National Film Board of Canada)

Film Description:
"A bus breaks down in the wilderness. Eight elderly women, average age 71, are stranded at a deserted farmhouse. The have only their wits, their memories, and eventually some roasted frogs' legs, to sustain them. Through the long days and nights this remarkable group of strangers share their life stories and exchange intimate thoughts; turning the crisis into a magical time of humour and spirit. Featuring non-professional actors and spontaneous dialogue, this memorable film dissolves the barrier between fiction and reality, weaving a heartwarming tale of friendship and courage."
-- National Film Board of Canada (source)

Film Credits (partial):
Written by: Gloria Demers
Produced by: David Wilson, Colin Neale, Rina Fraticelli, Peter Katadotis
Principal Cast: Alice Diabo, Constance Garneau, Winifred Holden, Cissy Meddings, Mary Meigs, Catherine Roche, Michelle Sweeney, Beth Webber
Cinematography: David De Volpi, Roger Martin
Film Editing: David Wilson
Music: Marie Bernard
Production Company: National Film Board of Canada / Office national du film du Canada
(sources)

Awards won by The Company of Strangers

Notes about The Company of Strangers

(sources)

Quote by the Director [in French]

"Bien que ce film soit une fiction, les dialogues les plus importants sont tous improvisés par les comédiennes. Elles sont de grandes conteuses, et c'est ce qui fait l'intérêt de Company. Munies d'indications scénariques très limitées, car j'ai vite découvert que c'est ce qui fonctionnait le mieux, elles ont littéralement inventé ce film à partir de leur vie."
-- Cynthia Scott (source)

Quotes about The Company of Strangers

"You want to shoot in lower-angle light because of the beautiful, dramatic effect it creates [and because] most of the women [in The Company of Strangers] were more than 70 years of age, and we were filming during the hottest months. It simply wasn't advisable to shoot when the sun was at its strongest."
-- David De Volpi (source)

"Unlike Hollywood 'women's films', The Company of Strangers offers no pat conclusions, no romantic fatal diseases and no weepy catharsis. Scott gets deeper inside the histories of these women than Hollywood would allow, and shows us truer, more complex relationships than those films can manage. The result is a surprising breakthrough drama."
-- Festival of Festivals (source)

"The book [In the Company of Strangers] is a meditation on the process of becoming unestranged from each other, and my own reflections on the way it was [during the making of the film]. We were in a very beautiful part of Quebec and the whole thing was the process of becoming company for each other. That's what the summer was about and that's what the film is about."
-- Mary Meigs (source)

"When [The Company of Strangers] film premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 1990, it received a standing ovation from the audience. Alliance Distributing loved what they saw and bought the distribution rights for Canada. The film was released throughout Canada in the fall of 1990, to excellent response (it played for the incredible duration of 5 months at a Toronto cinema). Audiences and critics alike were delighted with the film. It was picked up by First Run Features stateside and released under the title Strangers in Good Company (to avoid confusion with the British film The Comfort of Strangers). The film was a big hit in the USA, playing just about everywhere. Total box office in the USA alone was over $1 million."
-- Albert Ohayon (source)

"[The Company of Strangers] is a film on aging, with seven elderly women as its subject, that takes the form of a narrative precariously balanced between ethnography and performance, history and pathos. The delicate interweaving of documentary and fiction through the thematics of mortality and female bonding produces a very unusual spectatorial effect."
-- Catherine Russell (source)

"Give this script, improvised from ideas by the late Gloria Demers, to any Hollywood executive, and the reaction would be, 'So! Where's the story?' [...] Only the National Film Board's excellent 'alternative drama' division would have been able to finance such a film, a film that reminds us that movies can entertain us with real albeit unremarkable lives."
-- Jay Scott (source)

"Cynthia Scott's The Company of Strangers [...] is a disquisition on female aging, personal histories, memory, life and death, and the coexistence of past and presence. The film maps these topics onto the aged female body, a body imagined as active, mutable and vital even while it signals decay and mortality."
-- Angela Stukator (source)

Quotes about The Company of Strangers [in French]

"The Company of Strangers ne fait pas qu'illustrer la condition et l'expérience de huit femmes; il est aussi un bon exemple de l'évolution du cinéma féminin d'aujourd'hui. Ce film préfère l'émotion à l'action, le rythme lent au montage rapide. Ses longs plans, qui composent des temps de respiration, de contemplation, d'attente, rappellent ceux que l'on retrouve dans le cinéma de Marguerite Duras ou Jane Campion ou, plus près de nous, de Michka Saâl et Catherine Martin."
-- Nathalie Brillon (source)

"Pour ne rien perdre de l'unique prise lors des dialogues et de la spontanéité des interprètes, Cynthia Scott utilise deux caméras. Contrepoints, des photos prises à différents moments de leur vie apparaissent sur l'écran. La réalisatrice n'a pas craint les plans rapprochés qui révèlent l'étrange beauté des visages vieillissantes, certes, mais encore pleins de vitalité."
-- Yves Lever (source)

"Ce qui finalement fait le charme de ce film [The Company of Strangers], c'est la rencontre qu'il propose avec de vraies personnes. Elles qui n'ont rien de vedettes laissent transparaître dans leurs confidences ou leur manière d'être le poids de toute une vie."
-- Luc Perreault (source)

"The Company of Strangers se révèle [...] une agréable surprise, d'autant plus que cette belle brochette d'actrices en était à ses premières armes devant la caméra. Issues de différents milieux, elles apprendront à s'ouvrir aux autres, à se livrer sur leur passé pas toujours rose, leurs amours, leur sexualité, leurs espoirs perdus et leurs rêves oubliés."
-- Normand Provencher (source)

Bibliography for The Company of Strangers

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Newspaper or Magazine Articles

Dissertation Chapters

Web Sites about The Company of Strangers


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