Defiant farmer risks all to build home for ailing wife in 'Still'
Scene from 'Still'
Published Monday, September 10, 2012 6:59AM EDT
TORONTO -- All he wanted to do was build a home for himself and his ailing wife.
But in sawing down the trees and milling his own wood, 88-year-old Craig Morrison found himself threatened with imprisonment for failing to comply with government building codes.
His remarkable story is the focus of Michael McGowan's latest film, "Still," which hits the Toronto International Film Festival this week.
The "Saint Ralph" writer-director says it began when he stumbled across a story about a New Brunswick farmer and his Alzheimer's-stricken wife who were embroiled in a legal battle that threatened their home.
"I was sort of working on something similar and then I read this incredible story," says McGowan, whose light-hearted "Score: A Hockey Musical" opened TIFF in 2010.
"He built the whole thing himself and then when I met him and found out all the other stuff (about their lives), it sort of seemed natural to make a film about it."
Veteran character actor James Cromwell ("The Artist," "W.," "24") plays the defiant Morrison while seasoned actress Genevieve Bujold ("The Trotsky," "Last Night") portrays his wife, Irene. McGowan gushes over their onscreen rapport.
"You never really know when you get two stars together, how they're going to react to each other and they just had this incredible chemistry that hopefully is evident in the film. Both of them are incredible actors and we haven't seen a lot Genevieve, especially, lately and so I think it's going to be a real revelation."
McGowan says the real Craig Morrison, now 93, visited the set and told him about meeting baseball greats Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig when he was 10 years old.
But McGowan says the film's foundation is the love between Morrison and his wife.
"It really is the story of the relationship between these two people and how they sort of navigate a time in their lives when things aren't going so well," says the Toronto-raised McGowan, 46.
"It's kind of unbelievable."
The festival runs until Sept. 16.