It was our tremendous pleasure to host filmmaker and writer Paul Schrader in Toronto. Paul is a director who, like many of the movie brats, has a reputation that precedes him – whether it be writing American cinema classics like Taxi Driver or Raging Bull, directing the popular and canonized films American Gigolo and Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, or the lore surrounding the era, popularized by Peter Biskind’s book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. He is a unique filmmaker, holding two successful and parallel careers as writer and director, as well as representing the critic-turned-filmmaker mythology.

Spending the day with Paul, the reality sets in quickly: his background as a film critic and the scope of his experience culminates in someone who is forthcoming, well-spoken, well-read, has a tremendous amount of stories, and most importantly, knows exactly the direction in which cinema has moved. Paul arrived in the city fresh off a bold experiment with The Canyons, where he, writer Bret Easton Ellis and producer Braxton Pope both crowd-sourced and personally funded, along with star Lindsay Lohan, the production of the low-budget feature. To hear him talk about the film during our interview, where we talked about his entire career, it became clear that this was another experimentation in a filmography that is wide-reaching in both style and genre.

The sold out screening of Taxi Driver with an exclusive look at The Canyons showed an equal reverence for his past work, as well as Schrader’s future. The Royal was a perfect venue to watch the digital restoration of the feature, itself a 1930s Art Moderne movie house that was recently renovated to include a state-of-the-art technological set-up.

Following the screening, Paul joined us on stage to discuss his life surrounding the writing of Taxi Driver (where “Write the thing in order to not be the thing” became a popular take-away from that experience), the thematic extension into his Lonely Man cycle of films (American Gigolo, Light Sleeper and The Walker), his variety of experiences working with actors (“You can work around bad behaviour – you can’t work around miscasting” he advised) and an expansive account of the inception, production and conceptualization of The Canyons. This last section was especially important to Paul, who requested to have some time to really get into the significance of the film in today’s “post-empire” culture – both broadly speaking and as a reflection of how cinema’s production, distribution and exhibition have drastically changed. Citing Xavier Dolan’s Heartbeats as an influence, Paul spoke of changing his own filmmaking style, as well as his realization that the consumption of cinema has changed.

The scenes at the theatre following the screening, as well as at our after party, indicated the influence Paul has consistently exerted on generations of writers and filmmakers. Their experience no doubt mirrored the on-stage conversation, which illustrated Paul as an honest, insightful and inspirational figure, who has the ability to stay aware of how the cinematic and cultural climate is changing; has paid close attention to his own personal successes and struggles; and in his words, is always looking toward the future.

Press Coverage

The National Post Paul Schrader: ‘Movies as we know them have had a nice kind of run, but I’d hate to call them the future.’ [Published April 21, 2013]
The Toronto Star Toronto to get sneak peek at Lindsay Lohan’s sexually explicit film The Canyons [Published April 17, 2013]
The Toronto Star Lindsay Lohan’s The Canyons: All tease and no sleaze [Published April 22, 2013]
NOW Magazine Q&A: Paul Schrader [Published April 19, 2013]
NOW Magazine The Movie Lovers [Published April 12, 2013]
Torontoist Paul Schrader, Writer of Taxi Driver, is Coming to The Royal [Published April 17, 2013]
blog TO This Week in Film: Taxi Driver [Published April 18, 2013]
blog TO Lindsay Lohan flick the Canyons builds buzz in Toronto [Published April 23, 2013]

Sponsors 

The second entry in The Seventh Art Live Directors Series was made possible with the support of our sponsors:


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Post-Screening Conversation + Q&A (Video)

The night’s screening of Taxi Driver and the exclusive clip from The Canyons was followed by a live conversation with Paul and an audience Q&A. An excerpt containing Paul’s thoughts on today’s Post-Empire culture can be watched HERE.

Video Interview

Before the night’s screening of Taxi Driver, Paul sat down with us at Happy Child for an in-depth interview about his films. Watch it HERE.

Photos 

A selection of photos from the April 21st sold-out screening of Taxi Driver and the event’s after-party are below. You can view all photos from the event on Facebook.

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