Director David Mortin had twisted visions of murder. He made accomplices out of Canadian recording artists, Sarah Slean, Martin Tielli, Mary Margaret O’Hara and actor Tom McCamus and delivered the film noir musical Black Widow. Mortin resurrected the 1940s sensational Torso Murder Case, loosely basing his production on this “ripped from the headlines” true crime story.
“We wanted to mythologize the Evelyn Dick story, we didn’t want to make a biography” he explained. “The film is greatly inspired by the idea of creating a classic femme fatale character and portraying the past through a somewhat distorted lens.”
The noir musical was screened in film festivals across Canada in autumn of 2005 and aired on CBC’s Opening Night Series in Jan. 2006. Now David Mortin’s Black Widow is impressively a six time nominee at the 21st Annual Gemini Awards.
“My producing partners and I are entirely blown away! Six nominations were way beyond our hopes and expectations!” the director exclaimed.
The Gemini Awards celebrate Canadian Cinema and Television by presenting nominations in 87 award categories. Black Widow is recognized in six categories, notably for, “Best Original Music Score for a Program”, “Best Costume Design”, “Best Photography in a Performing Arts Program”, and “Best Performance in a Performing Arts Program”, by singer songwriter, Sarah Slean.
“I’m thrilled that Sarah has received this vote of confidence for her acting debut! Sarah felt a little vulnerable as an actor, so I hope this will encourage her. She has a huge amount of talent and potential to explore” the director commented.
David Mortin’s confidence in his crew is unmistakably one of colossal size. The casting of the characters for Black Widow is far from coincidence, but rather assembled with care, specifically the hand-picking for the seductive lead role.
“We knew Sarah Slean would look great as the femme fatale. Seeing her perform – even just listening to her recordings you can hear her inherent sense of drama and character. Sarah exudes star charisma and is definitely in touch with her dark side.”
Praising his cast and crew, the modest director does not take sole credit for the production of Black Widow and all its acknowledgements.
“We had the good fortune of getting some of the very top creative artists to work on the production!” Black Widow was executed with teamwork and solidarity, as most of Mortin’s work is. He one of the co-writers of 1995’s Emmy Award Winning, September Songs: The Music of Kurt Weill. Later in 2002, Mortin and his partner Patricia Fogliato co-wrote the screen play for director Larry Weinstein’s Stormy Weather: The Music of Harold Arlen, featuring Sandra Bernhard, Deborah Harry and Rufus Wainwright. Mortin’s 2003 Youkali Hotel, starring cabaret singer Patricia O’Callaghan and featuring performances by Hawksley Workman and Mary Margaret O’Hara, gave him and his team four Gemini Nominations in 2004.
“I’ve been working in this musical/drama form for several years now,” the director said, “I’m lucky to have ongoing opportunities and do what I love.”
David Mortin’s Black Widow is scheduled for a repeat broadcast early 2007. The Gemini Gala airs Nov. 4