FILMMAKER WITHOUT BORDERS
“Peter Lynch just may be Canadian cinema’s missing link.”
–Cameron Bailey, TIFF Co- director
Peter Lynch is the creator of such Canadian cult classics as Arrowhead, Project Grizzly and Cyberman. His consummate character studies often get him compared to Werner Herzog and he is considered a leading Canadian filmmaker here and abroad. His eclectic work uniquely achieves success on multiple levels and has a rare authentic connection with the highly coveted youth audience. His characters, some real and some fictional, have been punk rockers, cyborgs, inventors, Northern adventurers and artistic dreamers. Audiences worldwide have responded to his work both critically and popularly.
Lynch’s biggest international success Project Grizzly has admirers ranging from Quentin Tarantino to South Park’s Trey Parker to artist Matthew Barney. The film, which profiled Troy Hurtubise, the obsessive inventor of a suit designed to protect someone attacked by a bear, is a comic masterpiece, which was parodied on The Simpsons and inspired a New York-based art exhibit. Lynch truly is one of the few Canadian filmmakers to have his work become part of global pop culture.
“Peter Lynch is one of the most idiosyncratic and unique cinematic voices in Canada.”
— Atom Egoyan
His work includes documentary and drama in features, shorts, commercials, music videos and episodic TV. Lynch has collaborated with many of Canada’s most talented actors including Colm Feore, David Hemblen, Don McKellar, Rebecca Jenkins, Jim Allodi, Graham Green and Mark McKinney. He has shot films with such top drawer cinematographers as Miroslaw Baszak, Rene Ohashi, Adam Swica, Steve Cousins, John Price and Rudolf Blahacek.
Lynch has shot in every province in Canada and in many places around the world in diverse and extreme weather conditions. As a working director, he has led shoots from the air, on mountains ranges, to the depths of the oceans. He’s worked in the Arctic and the tropics as well as London, Paris, Moscow, Toronto, Tokyo and North Bay.
“Lynch’s career is astonishing in its eclecticism and diversity. He always appears in the forefront, ushering in new styles and forms. It’s a tribute to his questing spirit that he remains ever young, constantly looking for challenges. He is continually inventing bold and impactful ways to tell stories.
–Marc Glassman, Editor, POV and Montage magazines.
NEW MEDIA REVOLUTIONARY 1983-1993
Lynch embraced video revolution and the new media digital explosion over thirty years ago. He was a major player in the early video/new media revolution and chronicler of punk, new wave music, hip-hop, dance hall, and the avant-garde music scene. Between 1983-1987 Lynch co-founded, co-produced and co-directed Video Culture International, a landmark video new media festival.
Moving from festivals, he became Vice President at Sony Creative Video, where he created prototypes and special projects for high definition television, computer graphics, digital video effects, frame store TV, direct broadcast systems and teletext systems that were precursors to the internet. He moved from Sony to Jasmac International, a multi billion-dollar Japanese development company as Vice President focusing on developing new media lifestyle buildings in Japan and North America.
In the early 90’s, Lynch produced and directed many music videos, which aired on Much Music and MTV. Lynch then went on to direct several successful commercials for Carling and Molson Beer. Marketing Magazine called Lynch’s Premier Card spots he directed for the award-wining agency Rethink 2003 their favorite spots of the year.
ARROWHEAD & PROJECT GRIZZLY 1993-1996
Moving into cinema, Lynch made a moving and beautiful film about youth, landscape and identity. Arrowhead is a unique fictional short, which starred Don McKellar at a time when he could still play an “everyman” figure, who might be “real.” His performance and Lynch’s direction combined to make the film a breathtaking, comic journey into the sensibility of modern Canadians, still hankering for authenticity while living in the suburbs. Arrowhead won a Genie and was praised by Geoff Brown in The London Times as a highlight at Eninburgh Film Festival and Both Arrowhead and Grizzly were listed in Now Magazines top ten films in their first twenty years of film coverage.
He followed Arrowhead with one of the funniest and deeply satisfying documentaries of the ‘90s, Project Grizzly. The film was parodied on The Simpsons, raising its status to an international level. It continues to land on Canadian Top 10 lists and deservedly so.
Geoff Pevere, in The Toronto Star, summed up its appeal the best: “With 1996’s Project Grizzly, Lynch produced one of the most provocatively entertaining and loopily Canadian documentaries of the decade.”
THE HERD, CYBERMAN, WHALE OF A TALE 1997-2004
“Throughout his career, Lynch has pushed the boundaries of filmmaking employing re-enactments, fantasy segments, personal essays, and experimental techniques, sometimes structuring his films according to genres like the western, and often consciously alluding to fiction works (see the opening shot of Project Grizzly, an homage to Fellini’s La Dolce Vita).
Associate Director of
Canadian Programming, TIFF
After the success of Project Grizzly, Lynch made three fascinating features, each testing the limits of the documentary form. The Herd employed actors ranging from McKellar to Jim Allodi in dramatic reenactments of what happened when a herd of reindeer traveled across the North in the early part of the 20th century. To many, the film seemed more like a drama than a documentary—it truly fused the two.
“Forget Godzilla and Jurassic Park. When it comes to making movies about the vast battles of man and beast, Canadian director Peter Lynch, director of Project Grizzly, has no rivals. His newest film, The Herd, one of the highlights of this year’s Perspective Canada at the Toronto Film Festival…”
–Liam Lacey The Globe and Mail
Cyberman, his next feature, was a portrait of Steve Mann, a futuristic figure who is as remarkable as any character in a J.G. Ballard novel. The film played to critical acclaim at over fifty international film festivals and was listed as one of the top ten feature films of 2002 by Film Comment.
“It’s terrific, funny, and its incisive. It’s got a really wonderful delirium in it.” a –Kent Jones, a Associate editor Film Comment
“Cyberman transcends the media politics with exquisite visuals.” –Brian D. Johnson, Maclean’s Magazine
“Cyberman ostensibly opens the hood of the world’s first cyborg – inventor, performance artist, privacy advocate and University of Toronto professor…. Lynch crafts a moving portrait of a contradictory individual and concluded that understanding Mann is as easy as understanding humanity itself… Easily the program at TIFF’s most inventive work.” a –Mark Peranson, Globe and Mail
A Whale of a Tale completed the genre-bending trilogy of post-Grizzly works. It centered on the resurrection of a media event from the 1980s. For a moment, Torontonians were intrigued when a whalebone was discovered near Lake Ontario during the excavation of a new subway. Since no evidence of whales had ever been uncovered in the lakes before, would the bone re-write the history of the Great Lakes? Did the greatest beast ever to live on earth swim in the shadows of the city? But the media frenzy died down when no additional proof could be found and the whalebone disappeared into a drawer into the basement of the Royal Ontario Museum. Until Lynch decided to play archaeological detective to find out the meaning of the whalebone.
GREAT CANADIAN SHORTS 2003-2010
While developing feature film projects, Lynch has continued to pursue his artistic career through the direction of a number of shorts from documentary hybrids, drama, dance and music to comedy. He has also directed episodic TV and several high profile TV commercials.
Among the highlights are:
“Animal Nightmares,” a dramatic musical short, which premiered at TIFF in 2003 and has had numerous broadcasts including an live interactive internet access showing also featuring DJ Kid Koala on Bravo! from documentary hybrids, drama, dance and music to comedy.
“A Short Film about Falling” and “Robotic Chair” are two brilliant artistic shorts, created in collaboration with Max Dean. They play with dreams, mechanical forms and dramatic structures in a stylish and elegant manner. While “Falling” premiered at TIFF, “Chair” was launched at Taipei’s Digital Art Festival; both have gone on to garner an international audience of art aficionados.
City Sonic, a cross platform interactive exploration of the city of Toronto through music and filmmaking, is a web-based series that premiered in 2010. Lynch’s contribution included films about Jason Collett, Lioness, Laura Barrett and Tyler Stewart of the Barenaked Ladies.
The National Parks Project (NPP) is a collaborative film and music project featuring 52 of Canada’s most acclaimed artists. Throughout the summer of 2010, groups of musicians and filmmakers traveled to national parks across Canada, to spend five days making short films and soundtracks inspired by the landscape. Five of these films (by directors Peter Lynch, Stephane Lafleur, Zacharias Kunuk, Louise Archambault, and Jamie Travis) were showcased in March 2011 at SXSW (South by Southwest Festival)
Jason Collett’s Dakota Revue, currently in post-production, is a web-based performance film project featuring music and spoken word fromover 50 performers, including The Broken Social Scene, The Stars, Ron Sexsmith, Claudia Dey, Dave Bidini, Buck65 and The Weakerthans. Lynch collaborated on the shooting and direction of the project.
Lynch has mainly been writing dramatic screenplays over the last number of years and has several fiction feature films in development, which he will direct.
Galveston, an adaptation of Paul Quarrington’s novel by Lynch. He will be producing with Gil Bellows and Marty Katz
The Program, a cyber-surveillance thriller based on the novel by Hal Niedzviecki and co-produced with Anna Stratton
Blackbird, a noir murder mystery thriller, written by Lynch
The Valley, an adventure drama written by Lynch and actor David Alpay.
“He is a master storyteller with his own personal vision and he chronicles the Canadian experience in ways that are entertaining and universal. His films speak to everyone, and on so many different levels. For me, it is art. For my ex-cop-ex-beer-salesman Dad and my traditional-North-End-Ukrainian-housewife Mom, it is pure entertainment. Peter Lynch makes great pictures…Peter Lynch makes cool movies. Peter Lynch makes it cool to be Canadian.”
— Greg Klymkiw, CFC Producer-in-Residence
Project Grizzly & Arrowhead
Project Grizzly has fans ranging from Quentin Tarantino to the creators of South Park. Actors use it for audition monologues and it has inspired an art exhibit in NYC. In the cross platform world, Project Grizzly has a major viral presence with over a million hits. This cultural currency is further evident by the huge number of blogs it is listed on along side people’s favorite films.
REEL CANADA, a project that promotes awareness of Canadian film to high school students, says that Project Grizzly and Arrowhead are amongst the most popular with students. When they posted Project Grizzly on their website, it got three times as many hits as any other film in their program.
Since 2009, Lynch he has had five retrospectives at venues including TIFF’s Cinematheque Ontario and festivals in Spain and the Czech Republic. His work is archived in the TIFFG collection.