Van’s father, Stan, is fond of video, always taping scenes of daily family life. But he does not take care of Van’s grandmother, Armen. Although he could afford having her at home, she is spending her days watching TV in an old people’s home. Van often visits her. He meets Aline, whose mother is in the next bed. Van wants to get his grandma out of the old people’s home. Aline will help. Actually, Van, whose mother left, years ago, is looking for a real family life.
Family Viewing is a 1987 Canadian drama film. This film makes for fascinating viewing, though it is not designed as entertainment for the whole family. This Canadian film stars David Hemblen as Stan, a profoundly disturbed young man. Upon the disappearance of his mother, Stan feverishly tries to piece together existing clues. He’s not sure he likes the outcome, but given the extent to which his family has disintegrated, he’s not surprised, either. Family Viewing was expertly filmed on a wafer-thin budget by independent Canadian director Atom Egoyan.
About the Story
Van (Aidan Tierney) frequently visits his grandmother, Armen (Selma Keklikian) who is living in a poor quality nursing home. At the nursing home Van meets Aline (Arsinée Khanjian), whose mother (Jeanne Sabourin) is in the next bed. Aline’s job as a phone-sex worker does not pay her enough to afford any better living conditions for her mother.
Van and Aline get to know each other through their frequent meetings at the nursing home. Van’s mother (Rose Sarkisyan) disappeared years ago and Stan, his father (David Hemblen) is reluctant to visit his mother-in-law. Stan does go to visit Armen once, but he first visits with a stranger because he does not even recognize what she looks like. When he finally sees Armen, she attacks him. Van tries to convince his father to allow Armen to live with them but he refuses. Van also tries to convince Sandra, his father’s live-in lover (Gabrielle Rose), with whom he also has a flirtatious relationship, to help him convince his father but she also refuses.
Van discovers that Stan is re-using old videotapes of their family to tape himself having sex with Sandra. Van decides to switch the tapes for blank ones to save them. He brings them to the nursing home and shows them to Armen.
When Aline is asked by a client to travel with him to Montreal, she asks Van to look after her mother while she is away. Aline’s mother is upset because she believes that Aline is deserting her, and so she commits suicide by overdosing on her medicine. Van switches the two elderly women so it appears that his grandmother has died. He tells his father that Armen is dead and holds a funeral for Aline’s mother before Aline returns from Montreal.
When she comes back Van tells her what he has done and shows her a videotape of the funeral. He asks her to help him to get his grandmother out of the nursing home by pretending that she is taking her own mother out. Soon Armen and Van are living with Aline and both Aline and Van are working at a hotel.
Awards and Nominations
Toronto International Film Festival Best Canadian Feature Film – Won
Genie Award for Best Achievement in Direction – Atom Egoyan – Nominated
Genie Award for Best Achievement in Editing – Atom Egoyan,Bruce MacDonald – Nominated
Genie Award for Best Motion Picture – Atom Egoyan – Nominated
Genie Award for Best Music Score – Mychael Danna – Nominated
Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role – David Hemblen – Nominated
Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Hrant Alianak – Nominated
Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role – Gabrielle Rose – Nominated
Genie Award for Best Original Screenplay – Atom Egoyan – Nominated
Family Viewing (1987)
Directed by: Atom Egoyan
Starring: David Hemblen, Aidan Tierney, Gabrielle Rose, Arsinée Khanjian, Selma Keklikian, Jeanne Sabourin, Rose Sarkisyan, Vasag Baghboudarian, Hrant Alianak, John Shafer
Screenplay by: Atom Egoyan
Cinematography by: Robert MacDonald, Peter Mettler
Film Editing by: Atom Egoyan, Bruce McDonald
Art Direction by: Linda Del Rosario
Music by: Mychael Danna
Distributed by: Cinephile (1988) (North America theatrical), Angel Films (Denmark theatrical)
Release Date: October 2, 1987 (Canada)