Patricia Rozema’s films, though varied in style and content, have always been marked by a humane and tender sensibility. Described as “so fresh, so funny, it amazes the heart” to “visually sensuous” and “wryly sophisticated”, her work invariably shows social prescience and deep humanity.
Born in Kingston, ON and raised in the small town of Sarnia, ON in a Dutch Calvinist immigrant family where television was severely restricted, Rozema didn’t go to a movie theatre until she was 16 years old. Rozema then studied philosophy at Calvin College and Seminary in Michigan (Paul Shrader’s alma mater).
After a brief stint in journalism, her first feature, I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, a magical realist film about a socially inept secretary in an art gallery made one of the most outstanding feature debuts in the history of Canadian cinema. At the 1987 Cannes Film Festival, in the Director’s Fortnight, I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing won the Prix de la Jeunesse and was runner-up for the Camera D’Or (best first feature). The film opened the Toronto International Film Festival and went on to win numerous awards including being ranked in TIFF’s list of Top 10 Canadian Films of all time. Miramax released the film in the US to great acclaim.
Rozema directed Six Gestures as part of the Yo-Yo Ma Inspired by Bach series. It debuted at the Venice Film Festival. Rozema’s film was nominated for a Grammy and was awarded a Prime Time Emmy, as well as a Golden Rose at the Rose d’Or Global Television Festival, the highest prize in television in Europe.
In 1995, she wrote and directed a lesbian love story, When Night is Falling, which won festival audience prizes around the world and remains a classic in the gay community.
Her next films were made outside of Canada. Rozema’s elegant progressive adaptation of Mansfield Park (1999, UK, Miramax) included a controversial inclusion of a sub-plot about slavery “paying for this tea party”. Roger Ebert called it "uncommonly intelligent” and declared it the film most likely to receive an Oscar best picture nomination (he was, sadly, wrong). It opened the 1999 World Film Festival in Montreal and was featured as a Special Presentation at TIFF.
Her socially conscious children’s film which eerily predicted the economic collapse, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (2008) starred Abigail Breslin, Stanley Tucci, Julia Ormond, Chris O’Donnell, Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, Glenn Hedley and Jane Krakowski. The film earned a Director’s Guild Best Director nomination and New York Times critic A.O. Scott hailed the film as featuring one of the Top 5 Female Performances of the year.
In 2000, Rozema was invited to direct Happy Days (2000), part of an Irish production filming all of Beckett’s plays which included Anthony Minghella, Neil Jordan and David Mamet.
In 2009, Rozema co-wrote Grey Gardens for HBO starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. She received an Emmy nomination, a Writer’s Guild nomination and a PEN USA award.
Other television credits include the pilot and several episodes of the groundbreaking sexually explicit Tell Me You Love Me (2008) with Jane Alexander, Adam Scott, Luke Kirby, and an episode of the critically acclaimed HBO series In Treatment (2010) starring Gabriel Byrne and Debra Winger.
In 2016, Rozema completed adapting and directing the feature film Into the Forest with Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood, Max Minghella, Callum Keith Rennie and Wendy Crewson, a story about two sisters surviving in the forest when all power has gone out for reasons unknown. She directed two episodes of Amazon's Golden Globe-winning Mozart in the Jungle starring Gael García Bernal and Lola Kirke and an episode of CBC's Anne with an E .
Rozema's latest feature, MOUTHPIECE (2018), was adapted from a play of the same name by Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava who also star in this powerful, funny and highly original look into a women's conflicted psyche in the first 48 hours following her mother's sudden death. The film premiere as the Special Presentation Opening Night Film at the Toronto International Film Festival and was named one of TIFF's Top Ten Canadian Films of the year. MOUTHPIECE is currently touring on the international film festival circuit.
She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.