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My American Cousin

Directed by Sandy Wilson
Canada, 1985 (fiction, 89 minutes, colour, English)
Also known as "Mein Cousin aus Amerika", "Mi primo americano", "Mój amerykanski kuzyn", "Mon cousin américain", "O Meu Primo Americano"

Film Description:
"The film takes place in the summer of 1959, when rock-and-roll music was blasting out of every jukebox [...] A precocious twelve-year old finds herself wishing she was sixteen and then one hot, still summer night, Sandy's life changes forever. [...] Both attracted and fascinated by her fearless cousin, Sandy is hopelessly stranded between her parents' strict and conservative expectations and the seduction of the rock-and-roll culture that Butch personifies."
-- Festival of Festivals (source)

Film Credits (partial):
Written by: Sandy Wilson
Produced by: Peter O'Brian, Sandy Wilson, Phillip Schmidt
Principal Cast: Margaret Langrick, John Wildman, Richard Donat, Jane Mortifee, T.J. Scott, Camille Henderson, Darcy Bailey, Allison Hail, Samantha Jocelyn, Babs Chula, Terry Moore, Brent Severson, Carter Dunham, Julie Nevlon, Alexis Peat, Mickey Mauncell, Kitty Wilson, Jakevan Weston, Ritchie Hobden
Cinematography: Richard Leiterman
Film Editing: Haida Paul
Production Company: Okanagan Motion Picture Company Inc., Borderline Productions Inc., Peter O'Brian Independent Pictures Inc.

Awards won by My American Cousin

Notes about My American Cousin


Quotes by the Director

"I think [My American Cousin] catches that wonderful time in a young girl's life when she's curious and just doesn't know any better. I remember when my mother first asked to look at the script. She ended up storming out of the room and saying, 'I can't read any more of this. It's too real.' That's when I knew I was on to something."
-- Sandy Wilson (source)

"When I arrived on my set [for My American Cousin], my first A.D. [Assistant Director] said, 'Would you like a binder?' And I said, 'What for?' And he said, 'Well, to put your script in.' I said, 'I've written the script, I know the script. What do I need the script for?' This is from documentaries where you don't go out with a script. [...] Next, my cameraman Richard Leiterman says to me, 'Sandy, can I see your shot list?' I replied, 'You mean my story board?' [...] He said, 'No, Sandy, I mean your shot list. ' And I said, 'You know, I've heard a lot about shot lists but I don't know exactly what they are.' [...] Richard Leiterman carried me for that day. [...] I learned very quickly how to do my shot list, how to do my homework. I carried my script with me. I put it in a big red binder—that became the bible. I felt naked without it. [...] I took a few days to figure out what I was supposed to do as the director. And then we started to really cook. I loved it. It's a wonderful thing when everybody is contributing their very best."
-- Sandy Wilson (source)

Quotes about My American Cousin

"Though [My American Cousin] is family oriented and comedic, [Sandy] Wilson constructs a feminist commentary about female sexuality and desire that exists outside strict Victorian moral codes about sex. In contrast to Major Wilcox's ideology that sex is procreative, here sexual desire, constructed through a female (heterosexual) gaze, exists outside masculine parameters, marriage, and even heteronormative romantic love, echoing the sex-positive feminists of the 1970s. Sex is presented as potentially fun, not a duty. Though Butch gets some perverse pleasure out of scaring the girls for a moment, he is not depicted as a sexually aggressive male. Rather, Butch is a kind of peacock, shamelessly displaying his body in front of the girls, who collectively enjoy the show. Female characters do not face any real punishment for acting on or pursuing their sexual desires but rather assert a level of control over the males in their lives."
-- Kathleen Cummins (source)

"It's an amazing job of evoking through specific detail, costumes, props and attitudes a period many of us still blush to remember."
-- Nina Darnton (source)

"If Sandra's parents and grandmother are the allegorical figurations of an anglo-centric colonial Canada, then Sandra herself allegorizes an adolescent Canada coming of age at mid-century, shifting her gaze from the UK to the US. Allegorically, Canadian nation as read through Sandra is gendered female, while the US as read through Butch is gendered male"
-- Christopher E. Gittings (source)

"[Sandy] Wilson clung tenaciously to her vision of the film. She fought long and strenuously for her choice of Margaret Langrick (an unknown and a non-actress) to play the lead. She fought to direct her picture. On top of that, everything had to be resolved and negotiated under time-constraints, because filming had to commence during the B.C. cherry picking season. And win every battle she did."
-- Gail Henley (source)

"[Sandy] Wilson establishes a polarity between a realistic Canadian road that is scenically beautiful but leads nowhere and an American road that promises freedom and happiness but is based on fantasy."
-- David L. Pike (source)

"Funny but realistic, My American Cousin follows Butch's brief intrusion into Sandy's life with a sensitivity that transcends nostalgia."
-- Jay Scott (source)

"[My American Cousin] is filled with some beautifully creative and unabashedly feminine touches that portent a real talent in the making."
-- Jan Teag (source)

"Sandy Wilson's debut feature film has emerged as something of an English-Canadian classic, operating simultaneously as a deeply personal film and as a metaphor for the inferiority complex of our national psyche."
-- Wyndham Wise (source)

Publications by the Director about My American Cousin

Bibliography for My American Cousin

Brief Sections of Books

Journal Articles

Articles from Newspapers, Magazines, or News Websites

Web Sites about My American Cousin

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