The 2012 Canadian film, The Phantoms, is based on a true story of sports triumph in the wake of a fatal catastrophe.
In accepting the Canadian Screen Awards Best Direction in a Dramatic program or Mini-Series honour last week, the film’s acclaimed director Sudz Sutherland reflected on a personal tragedy.
His only sister, Natalie, succumbed to cancer eight months ago. In addition to her brother and parents, she is survived by two grown children.
“She was four years younger than me and we were very, very close,” said Sutherland who dedicated his third individual Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television recognition to her. “She was a special human being, I think of my sister every day and she was definitely there with me as I received this prestigious award. This is for her.”
In the summer of 2008, seven members of a New Brunswick high school boys’ basketball team and the coach’s wife were killed after the van in which they were travelling slammed into a truck on a slippery road. The following year, the team rebuilt around one of the surviving players and won a provincial championship.
The Phantoms tells the story of the team’s determination, courage and the power of the community which rallied around the Bathurst High Phantoms.
“I received a phone call from the producers (Timothy Hogan and Rick LeGuerrier) saying I was on their shortlist and asking if I would be interested in directing the film,” recalled Sutherland. “I said yes.”
The movie was first aired on CBC television on November 18, 2012.
Sutherland wrote and directed the CTV-aired movie, Doomstown that won three Gemini awards, including best director in a dramatic program and best television movie and the epic CBC prime time mini-series, Guns, which was recognized with the best director and best writing Gemini awards. He co-shared the best writing honour with his wife Jennifer Holness.
Two years ago, the Canadian Screen Awards dedicated to all forms of Canadian media replaced the Gemini and Genie Awards.
A York University film graduate and former Share photographer, Sutherland is directing an episode of Reign, an American historical fiction television series following the early years of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1557 in France.
“This has been an intriguing experience for me because it’s set in the 16th century, the women wear corsets and there are some big battle scenes,” he said.
The series airs in Canada on M3 and on the American network, CW, which last month renewed it for a second season.
This is Sutherland’s second involvement in an American TV series.
He directed an episode – Held Hostage – of Beauty and the Beast which aired last January.