Alison Murray is a writer/director based between Canada and Buenos Aires. Born in Nova Scotia, raised in England, Murray began directing music videos in the UK in the 1990’s.
She made her first documentary in 2000 with Train on the Brain (Channel 4/TVO) in which she rode the rails across North America with a group of teenage hobos.
She followed up with her first dramatic feature Mouth to Mouth (Best Feature, Brooklyn International Film Festival ). The film told the story of disenfranchised youth searching for belonging. In 2007 she made Carny for the Sundance Channel (Hot Docs, Best Documentary, Brooklyn International Film Festival).
Alison moved to Buenos Aires to study tango, she met her partner Carlos, made another documentary Caprichosos de San Telmo (TIFF), and became an international tango champion.
In her latest feature, ARIEL ( 2022 ), two siblings unearth their true identities through dance, framed by the military dictatorship’s legacy in Argentina. She is currently developing the female-centric thriller BONE CREEK with writer Joadie Jurgova.
Murray has participated in the Berlinale Talent Campus, the Rotterdam Coproduction Market, IFP No Borders and the Ontario Creates International Financing Forum. Her short films have been shown at the Centre Georges Pompidou , Paris, The Tate Gallery, London, and the Royal Cinema, Toronto. She had directed two live theatre works, at the Beurs Theatre, Brussels, and Stuc/Klapstuc Brussels. She has also choreographed for the Royal Opera House Garden Venture at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London and contributed the film elements to the theatre work of Marisa Carnesky.
Check out Alison’s IMDb profile.
“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.
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 full length film here.
“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 – Carny, Americana on the Midway.
Watch the full movie here.
A portrait of the working class musicians and dancers of Buenos Aires’ 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 full length film here.
Ariel 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.
It’s hard to believe Davie and Diana Vega are siblings, they are so different from each other. Davie thinks Diana needs to loosen up. Diana feels she knows better, if only Davie would listen to her, he could get his life on track. A trip to Buenos Aires, city of their birth, is a chance for reconciliation. Maybe, Diana thinks, getting in touch with their roots can help Davie get over his depression. They have not returned to Argentina in the 30-odd years since their parents brought them to Canada as children. They don’t even speak Spanish.
Davie and Diana explore Buenos Aires and are mesmerized by a nocturnal world of tango clubs and bars, surprised by a sexy young crowd of dancers.
Diana tells Davie one of her reasons for planning their trip – she thinks Davie is adopted and wants to find out for sure.
Powerful questions about his identity that arise for Davie send him on a bender that destroys a burgeoning relationship with tango dancer, Josefina.
Returning to Toronto, Davie confront his parents. His father has a plausible cover story. Davie smells a rat and causes a scene. Davie and Diana try to dance tango in Toronto but it’s not anything like Buenos Aires. Now that their sibling relationship is called into question, everything feels different when they dance.
Davie returns to Buenos Aires, reluctantly accompanied by Diana, where they discover a truth that changes them forever.
The ARIEL team is happy to be welcomed back into the bosom of tango. The film screens at the monumental World Tango Festival in Buenos Aires on August 25 and again on Aug 30. Learn more here.
“In the midst of Ariel searching relentlessly for answers of origin, the dance never stops. The film includes the most gorgeous Tango scenes of our time… “ Valerie Milano interviews Alison about Ariel for a recent article in The Hollywood Times. Read and watch here. Murray comments: “This film tackles the challenging themes of identity and family secrets, enveloping them with the beauty of Buenos Aires and the sensuality of tango. The story reflects my experiences falling in love with tango. At the heart of this film lies the revelation of truth, both personal and political.” Read the full article in English and Spanish here. “… a strong character piece, all set to pretty captivating tango music and peppered with a lot of dancing ” Read more here. ” … ARIEL: BACK TO BUENOS AIRES is not just a feast for the eyes but also a thought-provoking delve into the annals of history, personal revelations, and the charming allure of Argentine tango.” Read more here.
The Hollywood Times
CineVista Blog Article
New reviews from searchmytrash and overlyhonestfilmreviews
“In the midst of Ariel searching relentlessly for answers of origin, the dance never stops. The film includes the most gorgeous Tango scenes of our time… “
Valerie Milano interviews Alison about Ariel for a recent article in The Hollywood Times.
Read and watch here.
Murray comments: “This film tackles the challenging themes of identity and family secrets, enveloping them with the beauty of Buenos Aires and the sensuality of tango. The story reflects my experiences falling in love with tango. At the heart of this film lies the revelation of truth, both personal and political.”
Read the full article in English and Spanish here.
“… a strong character piece, all set to pretty captivating tango music and peppered with a lot of dancing ”
Read more here.
” … ARIEL: BACK TO BUENOS AIRES is not just a feast for the eyes but also a thought-provoking delve into the annals of history, personal revelations, and the charming allure of Argentine tango.”
Read more here.