The Company of Strangers

Watch List: The World of Marcel the Shell


Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema Sun, Aug 21 1:00 PM
Film Info
Country Listing:Canada
Cast/Crew Info
Director(s):Cynthia Scott


When designing our Marcel the Shell tribute series, Marcel director Dean Fleischer Camp had only one stipulation: "You HAVE to program The Company of Strangers!" The film dissolves the barrier between fiction and reality to recount the adventures of seven elderly women who find themselves stranded when their bus breaks down in the wilderness. With only their wits, memories and some roasted frogs' legs to sustain them, this remarkable group of strangers share their life stories and turn a potential crisis into a magical time of humour, spirit and camaraderie. Featuring non-professional actors and unscripted dialogue, it's not hard to see why this heartwarming tale of friendship and courage was such a major touchstone for Dean and Jenny Slate in the making of Marcel the Shell. "Nobody I know talks about it enough and it f***ing rules," Dean says.

"An undersung masterpiece of 90s hybrid-doc filmmaking, courtesy of Cynthia Scott and the National Film Board of Canada. The comedian and actor John Early introduced me to this film, and it is, no lie, probably the closest thing I’ve had to a spiritual experience watching a film. I cried. I laughed. I wanted to hug each and every woman in this film. The bravery of this (mostly non-professional) cast in making themselves vulnerable enough to give such powerful, personal performances is inspiring and breathtaking. Many artists hope their art is useful, that it helps someone somewhere to better understand their life, but we often neglect to include ourselves in that. This film is astounding for what I assume to be an actual therapeutic usage of the project by the cast and crew to narrativize and thus grieve their own personal losses, as well as their anxieties about aging and death. I know that the co-writer, Gloria Demers, died of breast cancer just before the film was released, and I often wonder if she conceived of this project as a way to face her own mortality.”

- Dean Fleischer-Camp

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Want more? Check out The World of Marcel the Shell, a special film series that tours the offbeat inspiration and influences behind the iconic stop-motion character Marcel the Shell. Curated in partnership with director Dean Fleischer-Camp.

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