October 31, 2017

Spotlight: Mary Harron, 2017 Creative Excellence Crystal Award winner

One of the most distinctive voices of the independent film movement of the last twenty years, Mary Harron made her debut as a feature-film writer/director in 1996 with I Shot Andy Warhol.

In an interview with The Believer, Mary pegged the film as “a reverse-engineering documentary focusing on the least important person”—Valerie Solanas.

Mary excels at depicting polarizing women who embody the complex and paradoxical nature of the human experience—Valerie Solanas, Betty Page, Anna Nicole Smith, and Grace Marks.  She exposes their vulnerabilities while at the same time acknowledging the beauty of their existence.

I Shot Andy Warhol won star Lili Taylor a Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival, and garnered Independent Spirit Award and London Film Critic Circle nominations for best first feature.

Mary possesses a remarkable ability to create suspense, tension, and delve into the dark, unknowable aspects of her characters The most widely acclaimed example of this is in her film American Psycho, starring Christian Bale and Reese Witherspoon.

For her work on this film, she was nominated for Director of the Year by the London Film Critics Circle. She then followed with The Notorious Bettie Page in 2005, starring Gretchen Mol, Lili Taylor, and Jared Harris. The film debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and at the Berlin International Film Festival to critical acclaim.

Mary’s most recent feature film, The Moth Diaries, starring Sarah Bolger, Sarah Gadon and Lily Cole, premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2011 and had its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Her latest production is the six-part series Alias Grace, written and produced by Sarah Polley, and based on the novel by celebrated Canadian author, Margaret Atwood. The series stars Sarah Gadon, Paul Gross and Anna Paquin, and was produced for CBC and Netflix.

Mary Harron creates art that is, as writer Stassa Edwards describes it, “simultaneously lush and violent, tender and brutal, deeply intellectual and empathetic”. She expertly presents women as whole, nuanced beings who shirk the expectations placed upon them by a patriarchal society.


The Crystal Awards is Women in Film & Television – Toronto’s (WIFT-T) annual tribute to women working in the Canadian screen-based industry, as well as the men who champion them. Since 1988, WIFT-T has honoured over 130 industry trailblazers for their excellence in creativity, innovation, and leadership in Canada’s screen-based media industry (film, television and digital media).

The 30th Annual Crystal Awards Gala luncheon will take place on December 5, 2017 at the Arcadian Court, 401 Bay Street, Toronto, Ontario.