Countdown to the Academy Awards

York Film & Video professor Laurence Green can’t wait for the weekend to roll around because 11 minutes of his latest documentary have been nominated for an Oscar at the 77th annual Academy Awards, which will be broadcast Sunday, Feb. 27.

Left: The National Film Board poster for Alter Egos

“It’s an odd situation,” said Green. “My latest documentary Alter Egos is not up for an Oscar, but my film contains a film-within-a-film, and that animated short, titled Ryan, is nominated in the Animated Shorts category. The two companion films were conceived and produced together, but like Siamese twins, they can be separated, especially if it makes one qualify for an Oscar nomination.”

Ryan, created by Chris Landreth, is ostensibly about the tragic story of Ryan Larkin who is living every artist’s worst nightmare: losing his ability to create and to provide for himself. He panhandles on the street to make ends meet. But more than 30 years ago, he was among the world’s most celebrated animators and an Oscar nominee. 

Landreth, a rising star in animation, is on the opposite trajectory in his career and beginning to experience the kind of adulation that Larkin saw decades earlier. In this poignant study of artists, addiction and creativity, director Green explores these renowned filmmakers and the reasons for their divergent paths. Alter Egos delves deeper into the curious tale of Ryan’s descent and explores the complex and utterly fascinating relationship that developed between the two men.

Right: Ryan Larkin in earlier days

“Chris Landreth and Ryan Larkin are the ‘alter egos’ of the title, and are both former Oscar nominees,” explains Green. “The film winds up being about more than the two men’s friendship and art, it is also about filmmaking itself, the relationship between subject and documentarian, and the ethics of making such films.”

Recognizing the new interest in Chris Landreth’s film Ryan, since its Oscar nomination, CBC Newsworld’s Rough Cuts will be broadcasting Green’s Alter Egos on Friday, Feb. 25 at 10pm ET and 1am ET.

Right: Larkin as he is today

EYE magazine’s Jason Anderson said, “Alter Egos . . . makes for the most unsettling and moving few minutes I’ve seen in any film this year.” Matthew Hays of the Montreal Mirror mentioned the film in his top ten list of films for 2004.

For a complete list of this year’s honoured films, visit the Academy Awards Web site.