Why did I make this movie? Demons. Kidding. Sort of.
The search for love and connection is a theme I often wrestle with. It remains a perplexing puzzle to me, which is why I am compelled to muck about with it by making movies. I was interested in playing within the conventions of the romantic comedy genre and twisting them up in an unusual way.
YEAR OF THE CARNIVORE mixes elements of classic cinema such as slapstick, camp, film noir, and the "Hollywood Kiss", with the lesser-told story of a desperate young woman trying her best to get good at sex. The story draws, in part, upon my own girlhood experiences growing up in the suburbs, out of touch with my body and having no clue of how to express myself sexually.
The title, YEAR OF THE CARNIVORE, refers to the year Sammy takes a bite of life and has her heart bitten. I like the interplay between the words "carnal" and "carnivore", the multiple meanings of what it means to devour and be devoured in the human food chain. YEAR OF THE CARNIVORE is a decidedly anti-romantic love story, and homage to clumsy, young lovers.
Sook-Yin Lee – Writer, composer and director, Year of the Carnivore.
Cristin Milioti – "Sammy"
After an extensive casting search for Sammy Smalls, her wonderful contradictory qualities were discovered embodied in New York City-based theatre actor, and real-life dog walker, Cristin Milioti. Her deft comic touch and undeniable silent screen star presence brings Sammy to life. YEAR OF THE CARNIVORE is Cristin Milioti's big screen debut.
Born just across the Hudson in New Jersey, Cristin Milioti embarked on her acting career by attending NYU's Tisch School for the Arts. She has been working steadily on the Broadway stage for the past 4 years. Her Broadway credits include, Coram Boy directed by Melly Still and The Lieutenant of Inishmore directed by Wilson Milam. Off-Broadway starring roles include Crooked and The Devil's Disciple. Currently Cristin is performing in Stunning at the Lincoln Center in which "Time Out New York" raves that "Milioti's Lily is a striking creation: adrift in a sea of gleam and struggling to make sense of the daze of her life." The Village Voice follows that "Milioti has a vulnerable charm".
On the small screen, Milioti had a recurring role on The Sopranos for the final two seasons of the series, playing Johnny Sacramoni's daughter, Catherine.
Mark Rendall – "Eugene"
Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Mark started acting at the age of ten. He auditioned for a touring production of the musical Oliver and, having no formal training in either acting or singing, was cast in the role of Spider, and as an understudy to the lead role.
That was just the beginning for Mark; in 2000 he made his television debut as Lucas Smith on the series The War Next Door. Next, he starred in Tales from the Neverending STORY, earning him a 2002 Gemini nomination, and the multi-award-winning film, Touching Wild Horses opposite Jane Seymour garnering a 2003 Young Artists Award nomination. In 2004 he received an ACTRA Award nomination for Outstanding Performance for his role in The Interrogation of Michael Crowe and starred in the comedy Childstar, along with Jennifer Jason Lee and Dave Foley.
Mark returned to television in 2004 with ReGenesis and in NBC's Emmy Nominated mini-series Revelations opposite Bill Pullman and Natascha MacElhone. His voice is well known as Arthur in the animated children's series Arthur and also as Jester in Jane and the Dragon, and Wayside.
Mark's recent films include Charlie Bartlett, with Robert Downey Jr. and Hope Davis, Silk with Keira Knightly, and the horror thriller 30 Days of Night, with Ben Foster and Josh Hartnett. He stars in Victoria Day (which premiered at Sundance 2009), The Exploding Girl opposite Zoe Kazan, and My One and Only with Kevin Bacon and Renee Zellweger.
Will Sasso – "Dirk"
Born in a small town called "Canada" Will Sasso grew up respecting comedy of all styles, thanks in part to an unhealthy relationship with the family television that began when Will was around two or three. With his mind consequently bent, Sasso decided at an early age to become an actor.At the age of fifteen he landed his first agent and began booking roles in television and film. Before moving from Vancouver to Los Angeles, Sasso starred for five seasons as the quirky teen, 'Derek Wakaluk' on the award-winning Canadian dramatic series Madison allowing him to hone his acting and improvisational skills as well as providing him with enough money to buy a television of his own.
Will starred for five seasons on FOX's hit sketch comedy series MADtv giving TV viewers a reason to stay up late with characters like the accident-prone handyman 'Paul Timberman' and offbeat impressions of Bill Clinton, Kenny Rogers, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Segal and Randy Newman. After a successful tenure with the show beginning in 1997, Sasso decided to leave the late-night staple in 2002. Moviegoers know Sasso from his roles in over thirty feature films including Best in Show and A Mighty Wind, both directed by Christopher Guest, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Beverly Hills Ninja starring the late Chris Farley, and The Hot Chick starring Rob Schneider and produced by Adam Sandler, with whom Sasso previously worked on Happy Gilmore.
More recently, Will can be seen in the feature films College Road Trip starring Martin Lawrence, Southland Tales starring Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson as well as the upcoming films, Lower Learning and For Christ's Sake which Sasso produced under his Lord Mucker Entertainment banner. Lately Will has guest starred on CBS's CSI, ABC's October Road, HBO's Entourage, and has signed on as one of the stars of the FOX pilot, Spaced produced by McG's Wonderland along with Warner Brothers. Due for release in spring of 2009, Sasso stars in National Lampoons' The Legend of Awesomest Maximus, which he is also executive producing.
Sheila McCarty & Kevin McDonald – "Mr. & Mrs. Smalls"
A Genie Award-winner for the classic Canadian films I'VE HEARD THE MERMAID'S SINGING and THE LOTUS EATERS, Sheila McCarthy has appeared in the recent films BEING JULIA, CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE DRAMA QUEEN, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, and Sook-Yin Lee's YEAR OF THE CARNIVORE.
Currently a lead in CBC's hit series LITTLE MOSQUE ON THE PRAIRIE, Sheila McCarthy shines on the screen and stage with many credits including VIRTUAL MOM, DIE HARD 2, Disney's PARADISE, and I WAS A RAT, ROXANA, PICKET FENCES, MISSING, WONDERLAND, ROAD TO AVONLEA, and STREET LEGAL. She received Gemini nominations for her roles in EMILY OF NEW MOON and DUDLEY THE DRAGON.
Kevin McDonald founded Kids in the Hall with friend Dave Foley. They met in Toronto at the Second City Training Center, and the two wrote and performed in sketches together more than any other pair in the group. In the troupe's television series and stage shows, he portrayed several popular recurring characters, such as the 'King of Empty Promises', 'Sir Simon Milligan', and 'Jerry Sizzler'. Still, it is a frequent running gag that McDonald is the least popular member and always struggling not to get kicked out.
Since the Kids in the Hall show's ended in 1994, he has played many small roles in films including Boy Meets Girl, Agent Pleakley the cross-dressing alien in Lilo & Stitch (a role which has continued into three direct-to-video movies and Lilo & Stitch: The Series), and Harry Potter in Epic Movie.
On television, he has appeared on The Martin Short Show, Ellen (as a radio personality), That '70s Show (as a confused young cleric, Pastor Dave), Seinfeld, Friends (as 'The Guru', a doctor who magically removes Ross's weird skin abnormality), NewsRadio (on which Dave Foley starred), Arrested Development, and Corner Gas. McDonald has also done voice work for various animated series, including Nickelodeon's Invader Zim, The Angry Beavers, Catscratch, and Clerks. He also played an imaginary friend named Ivan in the episode Sight For Sore Eyes on Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, appeared in the music video for "Roses" by Outkast, and made an appearance in Tim and Eric's Awesome Show.
In 2006 McDonald hosted a CBC TV special, featuring several of Canada's best sketch comedy troupes. Sketch with Kevin McDonald won a Canadian Comedy Award (Best Taped Live Performance - The Minnesota Wrecking Crew), with The Imponderables nominated for the same award. Kevin was recently in Montreal as a part of the Just for Laughs Festival with the reunion of Kids in the Hall, and also with his solo show Hammy and the Kids with Craig Northey, based on his 2 dysfunctional families, his Dad "Hammy" and the Kids in the Hall.
Ali Liebert – "Sylvia"
Ali is a talented young actress who has quickly become one of Canada's biggest rising stars. Raised in Duncan, British Columbia, Ali had a keen interest in performing from a very early age. She was so passionate about singing, dancing and acting, that she dedicated her post-secondary education to honing her craft. She auditioned and was accepted into The Canadian College of Performing Arts (CCPA) in Victoria and completed the intensive Musical Theatre Program, graduating with honors.
Her small screen roles include Dead Like Me, The L Word, The 4400, Whistler, Fallen, Blood Ties, Huff, Cold Squad, Robson Arms, Psych and recurring roles on Intelligence, Young Blades and Kyle XY. Recently, she landed a series-regular role playing Nikki Bolton on the new CBS horror/drama Harper's Island after Executive Producer Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure) handpicked her for his high profile show.
Some of her film credits include Sandra Nettleback's Helen (starring Ashley Judd), Ron Oliver's All She Wants for Christmas, The Secret Lives of Second Wives (starring Rescue Me's Andrea Roth), and The Break-Up Artist, with fellow Canadian actress Amanda Crew. Ali had a very busy 2008! In addition to The Break-Up Artist, she also completed work on two other films. Alongside funny man Will Sasso, she was cast in a lead role in Sook-Yin Lee's feature film debut, Year of the Carnivore as well as the upcoming Cuba Gooding Jr. feature Hardwired.
Writer/director/composer – Sook-Yin Lee
Born and raised in Vancouver, Sook-Yin Lee is a Toronto-based musician, actor, filmmaker and media personality. She fronted the art-rock band, Bob's Your Uncle before embarking on a solo career. The former MuchMusic VJ hosts the irreverent arts and culture radio show Definitely Not The Opera on CBC Radio 1. Sook-Yin is an accomplished filmmaker. Her award winning short films, Unlocked, Girl Cleans Sink and Escapades of the One Particular Mr. Noodle have screened internationally. Sook-Yin stars in the adventurous comedy, SHORTBUS, directed by John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) which premiered at the Festival de Cannes 2006. Recently, she wrote, directed and acted in The Brazilian, a chapter in the movie TORONTO STORIES.
YEAR OF THE CARNIVORE is Sook-Yin Lee's feature film screenplay and directorial debut, produced by Screen Siren Pictures and the Film Farm.
Producer – Trish Dolman
Producer Trish Dolman is the founder of Screen Siren Pictures Inc. and has been producing film and television in Canada for over fifteen years. Prior to Year of the Carnivore, Trish produced two other debut features. In 2001/2002 she produced Keith Behrman's first feature, FLOWER & GARNET which won more than twenty awards, (including Claude Jutra for Best 1st feature, Best Narrative at the Boston International Film Festival) screened at Berlin (Panorama Special Section), Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Karlovy Vary, Pusan and MOMA: Canadian Front, and played in Vancouver theatres for over eleven weeks. In 2005, she produced The ScorE, a groundbreaking musical drama by Electric Company theatre director Kim Collier, which screened at the Vancouver International Film Festival, Puerto Vallarta Film Festival and INPUT (Taipei), and was nominated for Best Musical Score in a Feature Length Film (2006 Leo Awards) and Best Movie of the Week (2006 Banff Television Awards). Trish has also produced more than ten award-winning documentary films and series. In 2003, Trish was the youngest recipient of the Woman of the Year award from Women in Film and Video Vancouver. More recently Trish produced the Genie nominated LUNA: SPIRIT OF THE WHALE, a TV movie for CTV and Peace Arch Entertainment starring Adam Beach, Graham Greene and Jason Priestley.
Trish is currently executive producing director/writer Michael Goldbach's debut feature Daydream Nation scheduled to shoot in the summer of 2009 starring Scott Speedman, Kat Dennings and Andie McDowell. She is also developing new feature films with directors Scott Smith, Clement Virgo, Tim Southam and Mark Cousins.
Producers – Simone Urdl & Jennifer Weiss
For over 10 years, partners Simone Urdl and Jennifer Weiss have been producing critically acclaimed and commercially successful films such as Luck, Adoration, Redacted and Away From Her. Urdl and Weiss were named on Variety's Top 10 Producers to Watch in 2007.
Urdl and Weiss have recently completed production on Atom Egoyan's Chloe, produced by the Montecito Picture Company. In 2007, they produced Atom Egoyan's Adoration, which won The Ecumenical Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 where it screened as part of the Official Competition. In 2007 Brian De Palma's controversial Iraq War film Redacted, was awarded the Silver Lion for Best Director at the 64th Venice Film Festival and the film went on to screen at numerous international festivals, including the Telluride Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, The New York Film Festival and the London Film Festival. Away From Her starring Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent, premiered at The Toronto International Film Festival in 2006, was released simultaneously in Canada (Capri/Mongrel) and the United States (Lionsgate) in May 2007 and is one of Canada's top grossing films. The film won a Best Actress Golden Globe in January 2008 for Julie Christie, received Academy Award® nominations for Christie (Actress in a Leading Role) and for Polley (Adapted Screenplay), won six Genies including Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Adapted Screenplay, along with numerous critics' awards. Urdl and Weiss are the original producers of the Toronto International Film Festival's Talent Lab from 2003 through 2006. They are currently working on new projects with directors Don McKellar, Susan Shipton, Peter Wellington, Paul Sarossy and writer Michael Ondaatje.
Co-producer – Kryssta Mills
Kryssta was raised in the beach town of White Rock, BC, and began her career in filmmaking as an assistant director on television series and feature films. Moving into producing, Kryssta worked as associate producer, on director Bruce McDonald's Genie nominated feature film THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS (Canada's Top Ten 2007, Berlin Film Fest prize winner 07, Toronto Int'l Film Festival, Atlantic Film Fest prize winner, AFI Festival, Los Angeles). As co-producer, Kryssta completed the feature film SHELTERED LIFE by director Carl Laudan (Telefilm Perspectives Canada Cannes market 2008, Atlantic Film festival, Vancouver Film festival 08). Kryssta has also produced four short films, studied film at the University of British Columbia and is an alumnus of Norman Jewison's Canadian Film Centre.
Director of Photography – Bruce Chun
Bruce Chun is a director of photography who, during the last years, has put his talents in several mediums, such as advertising, film and television. On the advertising side, he worked for Molson, Toyota, Loto Quebec and Rogers, to name a few. He has also collaborated on several successful television series such as Réseaux (1998), Tribu.com (2001), La Vie, la vie (2001) and Grande Ourse (2003). These last two brought him several Gémeaux Awards. As for the film industry, Bruce has used his talent in many films, including the popular Bon Cop, Bad Cop (2006) and Nitro (2007), which brought him nominations at the Genie Awards.