Film professor’s Whole New Thing enjoys global romp

The success of Brokeback Mountain, Capote and Transamerica – Hollywood blockbusters which feature gay or transsexual characters – has generated much buzz in recent months. In the midst of this talk comes Whole New Thing, a captivating coming-of-age drama co-written and directed by York film professor Amnon Buchbinder. His film is enjoying a global romp with no sign of losing its lustre.

Right: A scene from Whole New Thing with Daniel MacIvor, left, and Aaron Webber

Buchbinder’s film, about a 13-year old boy who develops a passionate crush on his homosexual teacher, created a lot of excitement at its world premiere at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival (see Sept. 12 YFile), and continues to rack up awards, plaudits and screenings.

Here’s a glimpse of Whole New Thing‘s success to date:

It was the big winner last fall at the 25th Atlantic Film Festival, where a jury awarded the film the following prizes: outstanding performance by a male actor (shared by the film’s two leads Daniel MacIvor and 15-year-old Aaron Webber), excellence in editing (Angela Baker), outstanding writer’s award (MacIvor and co-writer/director  Buchbinder), and an honorable mention in the category of best Canadian film (see Oct. 4 YFile).

Left: Director and York Prof. Amnon Buchbinder

Following its East Coast success, Whole New Thing went on to a series of festival screenings in western Canada as well as Montreal. In February 2006, it took the CHUM television award for best Canadian feature at the Victoria Independent Film and Video Festival. And this month, it won the jury award for best film (fiction) at the Festival du Cinéma Indépendent Américain in Paris, where it was the only Canadian film in competition.

Whole New Thing made its US premiere in January 2006 at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, which attracts Hollywood glamour and film aficionados from around the globe. Then, as one of eight productions featured in Canadian Front 2006, a showcase of new Canadian cinema held March 15-20 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, it got the nod from New York Times columnist Stephen Holden, who wrote (March 12): “Almost as fine [as C.R.A.Z.Y.] but more rarefied is Amnon Buchbinder’s Whole New Thing. You fervently hope it doesn’t turn into a clanking melodrama about teacher-student relations and witch-hunting, and wonder of wonders, it doesn’t.”

Whole New Thing enjoyed its European premiere at the 2006 Gothenburg International Film Festival, one of the biggest film events on the northern European circuit. Upcoming screenings include film festivals in New Zealand, San Jose, CA, Cleveland, Seattle and the opening gala at Manchester, England, as well as gay film festivals in London, Milan, San Francisco, Miami, San Diego and the closing night gala at Los Angeles Outfest.

Whole New Thing is slated for theatrical release in the US later this year, beginning in New York. In Canada, it opened in Vancouver theatres on March 10, followed by Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and numerous smaller communities across Canada. Toronto moviegoers will have the chance to see it on the big screen later this season.

Submitted by Mary Lou Schagena, publicist for York’s Faculty of Fine Arts