INDIECAN ENTERTAINMENT INC. - as SALES All rights, World Except Canada and US

Documentary - Completed 2015

Al Purdy rode boxcars, worked factories and endured failure before becoming Canada's most celebrated poet. Fifteen years after his death, his untold story is revealed.

& Awards

Hot Docs 2015
    • Year of production
    • 2015
    • Genres
    • Documentary
    • Countries
    • CANADA
    • Budget
    • 0.6 - 1 M$
    • Duration
    • 92 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Brian D. JOHNSON
    • Writer(s)
    • Brian D. JOHNSON
    • Producer(s)
    • Brian D. JOHNSON, Jake YANOWSKI
    • Synopsis
    • Al Purdy was a charismatic tower of contradictions: a self-styled "sensitive man" who whips out a poem in a bar fight; a factory worker who finds grace in an Arctic flower; a mentor to young writers who remained a stranger to his sons. He was both Canada's Charles Bukowski and its Walt Whitman.

      A high-school dropout, Purdy hopped freight trains during Great Depression, worked in mattress factories, and endured two decades of failure and poverty before finding his voice in a homemade A-frame cabin near his rural Ontario birthplace. It became a boozy crossroads for the pioneers of Canadian literature, including Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje

      Fifteen years after the death of Canada's unofficial poet laureate, his shambling A-frame is restored as a writers’ retreat, as writers and musicians revive his legend with original songs. The film's performers include Ondaatje, Atwood, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Cockburn, Gordon Pinsent, Sarah Harmer, Tanya Tagaq and Joseph Boyden. Its characters range from Al's stoical 90-year-old widow—who reflects on their turbulent marriage—to the A-frame’s first resident poet, a vivacious young feminist conversing with the ghost of an old-school male. And as this dead poets society celebrates his legacy, a disturbing secret comes to light.