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Bloor Cinema Release: Al Purdy Was Here

December 4, 2015

By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

Al Purdy Was Here PosterAfter premiering at TIFF, Al Purdy Was Here is starting a limited run at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema tonight, tickets and showtimes can be found right here.

A “Sensitive Man” beneath an ultra masculine persona, who rose from his humble working class origins to leave behind a lasting legacy of words, Al Purdy is now rightfully regarded as one of our country’s finest poetic voices.

The directorial debut of local film critic Brian D. Johnson, Al Purdy Was Here explores the life and lasting legacy of this famed Canadian icon, using the efforts that were made to restore and convert his family home in Ontario into a retreat space for other writers, as the backbone of its narrative.

The documentary finds added emotional weight through rare archival footage, and there are also some genuinely touching performances from the many notable homegrown musicians who were enlisted to set his poems to music, including Bruce Cockburn and Tanya Tagaq.  A thoughtful and beautifully captured celebration of words and music, Al Purdy Was Here is a surprisingly moving film that reaffirms the title subject as an intrinsic part of our vast cultural landscape, and is required viewing for all lovers of the Canadian arts.

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