Patricia Rozema Interview: On Belonging, Identity, and Ignoring the Noise

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“I couldn’t imagine you’d be 63, still in a state of wonder and curiosity about who you are and who you’re becoming,” director, writer, and producer Patricia Rozema tells me over Zoom from her home in Toronto. “I once had a playwright say, ‘all your works about belonging and not belonging.’ And I thought, that sounds true, but isn’t that everyone’s?”

Last month, two of Rozema’s films, I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing and Mouthpieceher debut feature film and most recent release, respectivelywere added to streaming service MUBI’s curated catalogue. The films were made 31 years apart and for Rozema, they represent two sides of the same coin. “I do think that both Mermaids and Mouthpiece, kind of bookends at the moment, reveal a woman at odds with herself,” Rozema reflects. “You know, they have very conflicting internal voices.”

Mermaids premiered in 1987 at the Cannes Film Festival and won the Prix de la Jeunesse as part of the Directors’ Fortnight programme—the first English-language Canadian film to receive an award at the prestigious festival. A character study about feminism and a deeply compassionate exploration of the female experience, Mermaids stars Sheila McCarthy, Paule Baillargeon, and Anne-Marie MacDonald as three women succeeding and struggling to find their place as artists.

Read Rachel Ho's full interview with Rozema now:

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