(b. May 16, 1939 Johannesburg, South Africa)
One of the original English-Canadian auteurs, South African-born Larry Kent produced, wrote and directed a number of enigmatic, personal and powerful dramas during the sixties and early seventies. Kent specialized in intimate, unflinching portraits of people on the verge of personal crisis and revelation.
Of all the Canadian filmmakers to emerge in the sixties, Kent is perhaps the most consistently underrated. Many critics and historians contend he has never received his proper due as an important and influential figure in the development of our national cinema.
Kent came to Vancouver from South Africa at the age of nineteen and made his first film, The Bitter Ash (1963), while still a student at the University of British Columbia. His low-budget and semi-improvised early films – stylistically brash and sexually frank dramas of post-adolescent angst – were among the first in Canada to explore the social, cultural, sexual and feminist revolutions of the sixties; as a result, they were subjects of controversy and censorship across the country. According to Gerald Pratley, Kent’s second film, Sweet Substitute (1964), "is a raw, ragged and technically impressive film reflecting Kent’s inbred vitality and drive, poetic imagination and compassion for characters torn apart by sexual turmoil."
After Kent moved to Montreal in the late sixties, his work – often skeptical assessments of sixties idealism and groundbreaking examinations of feminist and sexual themes – led him further into the margins. The bold stylistic expressiveness and adventurousness of Kent's sixties films mark them as key works of their era, and represent a vital step away from the realist/documentary tradition that had dominated Canadian filmmaking.
Kent also worked at the NFB and acted in several films, including Un succes commercial (1970) and One Man (1977). Sadly, his impressive 1992 feature Mothers and Daughters went unnoticed and unreleased. He has worked for a Montreal newspaper when not making films. His work was the subject of a retrospective curated by the Pacific Cinematheque in 2003, entitled "Exile on Main Street (& Hastings): The Films of Larry Kent."
In 2006, he completed The Hamster Cage, an intellectual farce about a scientist and his extremely close offspring featuring Tom Scholte, Scott Hylands, Alan Scarfe, Jillian Fargey, Patrica Dahlquist, and Carly Pope. The film travelled to festivals around the world including Montreal, Vancouver, Shanghai (where it was banned), Munich and Goteberg. It won two jury prizes (for script and Alan Scrafe’s performance) at the Austin Fantastic Festival as well as an Artistic Merit nod at Vancouver. A year later, Kent completed work on Hastings Street, a short he made before The Bitter Ash but had been unable to complete because of lack of funding. (The eponymous street is one of the bleaker areas in Vancouver.) The film screened at the Toronto and Vancouver Film festivals.
Exley (2011), his most recent film, riffs off of Homer’s Odyssey following a failed writer as he careens around Vancouver, suffering indignity after indignity as he tries to scrape together enough money to visit his ailing mother. In 2012, the Toronto International Film Festival, with the help of Union Pictures’ Brad Fox, restored The Bitter Ash.
Updated March 2013
Film and video work includes
Hastings Street, 1963 (director; editor; producer)
When Tomorrow Dies, 1965 (director; co-writer with Robert Harlow; producer)
Façade, 1968 (director; writer)
Saskatchewan - 45° Below, 1971 (director)
Fleur bleue, 1971 (director) a.k.a. The Apprentice
Cold Pizza, 1972 (director)
Keep It in the Family, 1972 (director; editor)
The Slavers, 1977 (director; co-writer with James Bauman; producer)
One Man, 1977 (actor)
Yesterday, 1980 (director) a.k.a. Scoring, a.k.a. This Time Forever, a.k.a. Gabrielle
High Stakes, 1985 (director)
Cement Soul, Inside Stories series, 1988 (sound; TV)
Gracie's Rap, Inside Stories series, 1988 (sound; TV)
The Haircut, Inside Stories series, 1988 (sound; TV)
Home, Inside Stories series, 1988 (sound; TV)
In Limbo, Inside Stories series, 1988 (sound; TV)
The Last Demise of Julian Whittaker, Inside Stories series, 1988 (sound; TV)
New Backs for Old (Update), The Nature of Things series, 1988 (co-sound with John Crawford, Thomas Bilenkey, Eric Lindren, Bill Clements; TV)
Reunion, Inside Stories series, 1988 (sound; TV)
Then/Now, Inside Stories series, 1988 (sound; TV)
A Circle of Healing, Part I, Man Alive series, 1989 (co-sound with Peter Daly; TV)
A Circle of Healing, Part II: When the Eagle Lands on the Moon, Man Alive series, 1989 (co-sound with Peter Daly; TV)
A Circle of Witches, Man Alive series, 1989 (sound; TV)
Air Crash, The Nature of Things series, 1991 (co-sound with Bob Jones, John Crawford, Ken McKay; TV)
Day of Reckoning, The Nature of Things series, 1991 (co-sound with Ian Challis, Edmund Chong, John Crawford, John Dildine, Gerry King, Bob Jones; TV)
The Human Tide, The Nature of Things series, 1991 (co-sound with John Crawford, Scott Chisholm, Ian Challis, David Lezynsky, Gerry King; TV)
The Irrepressible McClure, Man Alive series, 1991 (sound; TV)
Married to the Job, Man Alive series, 1991 (co-sound with Scott Chisholm, David Fox; TV)
If Caribou Could Vote, The Nature of Things series, 1992 (co-sound with Ian Challis, John Crawford, John Martin; TV)
Lasers: Brighter than the Sun, The Nature of Things series, 1992 (co-sound with Thomas Bilenkey, Ian Challis, John Crawford, Edmund Chong, Brian MacLeod; TV)
Toys, The Nature of Things series, 1992 (co-sound with Thomas Bilenkey, Wes Blanchard, Ian Challis, Edmund Chong, Gerry King; TV)
Ferguson Jenkins: The Game of Life, Man Alive series, 1993 (sound; TV)
Lost Boys, Man Alive series, 1993 (co-sound with Ken McKay, Brian MacLeod; TV)
Vitamins Hype or Hope?, The Nature of Things series, 1993 (co-sound with Ian Challis, Wes Blanchard, John Crawford; TV)
The Advanced Material World, The Nature of Things series, 1994 (co-sound with Thomas Bilenkey, Wes Blanchard, Ian Challis, John Crawford, Bob Jones, Gerry King; TV)
Mothers and Daughters, 1994 (director; co-writer with Linda Jarosiewicz; co-editor with Mark Baxter; co-producer with Pericles Creticos)
The Hamster Cage, 2006 (director)
Hastings Street, 1963/2007 (director; writer; producer)
Exley, 2011 (director)