Alison Murray

Alison Murray  is a Canadian/British screenwriter and director based  between Canada  and Argentina.  Currently Alison is developing a new fictional feature film, Los Vega, in collaboration with The Film Farm and Cepa Cine.

Her feature documentary Caprichosos de San Telmo, which she shot on location in Buenos Aires, premiered in the Toronto International Film Festival.

Murray’s feature documentary CARNY, following the secret life of fairground workers, was broadcast on the Sundance Channel, Channel 4  UK  and TVOntario.  It premiered in the Hot Docs Festival in Toronto and won best documentary in the Brooklyn International Film Festival.

Mouth to Mouth, Murray’s fictional feature (writer/director) stars Oscar Nominee Ellen Page. The film showcases Murray’s signature choreographic style, woven into a powerful narrative about a search for belonging.  It premiered at the San Francisco International Film Festival and went on to win Best Feature Prizes at the Brooklyn International Film Festival, Berlin’s Britspotting Festival, and Festival D’ Annonay, France. Mouth to Mouth was released theatrically in the USA, UK, Canada, and France.

Train on the Brain is Murray’s hour long documentary for Channel 4 UK and TVOntario, in which she rode the rails across North America armed with a digital and a Super 8 Camera, following the lives of young hobos. Train on the Brain screened to a huge audience at Glastonbury Festival .

Murray’s short films have been receiving critical acclaim since 1992, with commissions for BBC television as well as European broadcasts and an international tour compiled by the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. Between 1996 and 2002 Alison directed over twenty music videos for British pop acts such as The Sugababes, Busted, and B*Witched, and was nominated for a CAD award for Best New Director in 1997, and for Best Pop Video in 2003.

Murray’s artistic activities have spanned from video installations for nightclubs to choreography for the Royal Opera House Garden Venture, and collaborations with maverick theatre maker Marisa Carnesky.   She has staged two of her own live theatre works, both in Belgium.  Retrospectives of her work have shown at The Institute of Contemporary Art and the Tate Gallery in London, and at Toronto’s Royal Cinema.

Murray studied dance and choreography before moving into film and continues her involvement with dance. She and her husband Carlos Boeri won First Place at the Buenos Aires Tango Championships in 2014.

Feature Films

Alison Murray’s award-winning feature dramas and documentaries have screened at film festivals from Brooklyn to Mumbai. Mouth to Mouth was made in 2005 and stars a very young Ellen Page. Train on the Brain is a documentary made for Channel 4 UK that features director Alison Murray riding the rails across America. Broadcast on TVOntario and the Sundance Channel, CARNY takes a verité look at carny life on the midway. And Caprichosos de San Telmo, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011, is set on the streets of Buenos Aires, where dance keeps despair at bay.

Mouth to Mouth

“Trusting other people will put your
ass in jeopardy every time.”

How Sherry loses her virginity, her illusions and her lip ring in a road trip across Europe. Sherry is searching for a place to belong where she can still be herself. She thinks she has found this in SPARK – Street People Armed with Radical Knowledge. She takes off in SPARK’s camper van as they cross Europe recruiting a membership of the down and out. They arrive at a disused vineyard in Portugal that will be their paradise.Harry, the group’s leader, begins harvesting ripe grapes and ready minds through his own methods of hard work and punishment. The stakes are high within this volatile group. Two deaths ensure the submission of most of the recruits – but not Sherry, or the apparently craziest street person, Mad Ax.

Mad Ax is the least taken in by SPARK’s rhetoric. He is also in love with Sherry. Into this Shangri-la comes Sherry’s mother. Failing to persuade Sherry to leave, she decides that SPARK has more to offer than single parenthood in London. Disillusionment complete, Sherry stands up for what she knows is right, denounces SPARK, and escapes with Mad Ax into the unknown.

http://www.mouthtomouthmovie.com

Watch the trailer here.
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Train on the Brain

In what’s been called ‘The definitive train hopping doc’, filmmaker Alison Murray drops out of the rat race, grabs a camera, and hits the rails with some punk kids on a trans-continental freight train hopping adventure. On their odyssey they encounter a cast of hobos and runaways, scallywags and castaways. Amidst run-ins with the law, and surviving the perils of the elements, Alison weaves her narrative film over beautifully shot 8mm film and digital video with an old-time sounding soundtrack by Beck. 

Train On The Brain was originally produced for Channel 4 in the UK by Hellhound and MJW Productions.

Watch the trailer here.
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CARNY

 “An intimate, gritty and poetic adventure following the lives of carnies – traveling fairground workers who have abandoned the security of the “real world” for the refuge and variety of the road. Through the eyes of Hairy, the charismatic lesbian cotton-candy seller, we see a world of unlikely Romeos, easy love and fierce friendships that obscure personal hardship and troubled pasts. Often from an underclass that has few options, the carnies struggle with addiction, loneliness, poverty and shattered dreams, finding solace only in the company of their own, who accept them as they are. Some have worked the fairs for more than 50 years, some were born or escaped into it, but all are gripped by the romance of the bright midway lights, lyrically captured captured by director Alison Murray (Mouth to Mouth) in lush interludes of Kodachrome Super 8.” (Gisèle Gordon, Hot Docs

A collaboration with photographer Virginia Lee Hunter, based on her book. www.carnyamericanaonthemidway.com

View the trailer.
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Caprichosos de San Telmo

A portrait of the working class musicians and dancers of Buenos Aires’s San Telmo neighbourhood, who have channeled the city’s many cultural influences into the street performance called Murga.

Every year, a taxi driver named Pichi (Hector Roterio) assembles a group of locals to train for the annual parade. At first glance, they don’t look promising. Sergio has clearly led a hard life and has already lost some of his teeth, but turns out to be a surprisingly fluid dancer. Maria Eva tries to hold down an entry-level job, but she comes alive teaching murga moves to the new girls. Under her watchful eye, they practice the murga’s bigbeat rhythms and its accompanying steps. Murga is a remnant of Argentina’s former African communities, but is now practiced by anyone in the neighborhood who can surrender to its pull.

Watch the trailer here.
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In Development

Projects currently in development for Alison Murray include a feature drama called The Vegas.

The Vegas follows the tumultuous siblings Davie and Diana Vega as they return to Argentina, country of their birth and learn to dance tango. They uncover secrets about their family history that call into question everything they hold to be true, but that free Davie from his existential misery.

A story of how the past holds us in its embrace – only by engaging with it can we find freedom. A lacerating love letter to the city of Buenos Aires.

The Vegas is a dramatic feature with The Film Farm and Cepa Cine.
Production 2019  

photo Cami Boeri

The Vault

To see selected short films and videos from pre-2000, go here.

Press

Caprichosos in London Argentina Film Festival

“the mot important thing in life is community – not money”

The Prisma UK

 

Caprichosos Filmmaker Magazine

At TIFF she premiered her Caprichosos, which is a documentary about the murga — what she calls “tango’s bastard cousin”.

Filmmaker Magazine

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