With DoP Chris Ball on the set of
WHOLE NEW THING
Screenwriting pedagogy on the road:
Ramoji Institute, Hyderabad, India
Doing a "Kenneth Clark on acid" thing
for BIOLOGY OF STORY
Doing the "Sir Kenneth Clark on acid" thing in
BIOLOGY OF STORY
On the set of
TRAVELLING MEDICINE SHOW: CREATION
In "The Big Idea" from
BIOLOGY OF STORY
Amnon Buchbinder was a film director, screenwriter, author and teacher. His work as practitioner and thinker spanned narrative and experimental, cinematic and literary, fiction and non-fiction, as well as academic and commercial fields. 2016 brought the release of three projects: The feature film Travelling Medicine Show, a playful “docu-myth” exploring the relationship between art and life in his own experience of cancer; Mortal Coil, a novel about angels and humans; and Biology of Story, a large-scale online interactive documentary and course.
Buchbinder’s previous work as a director includes two narrative feature films: The Fishing Trip (1998), made in collaboration with his students, was nominated for 3 Genie Awards, winning one. Critic Robin Wood in CineAction
magazine described it as “consistently marvelous,” saying “the film’s intensity conjures of memories of Bergman.”
Whole New Thing (2005) was screened at over a hundred international film festivals, receiving a dozen “best picture” awards, was acquired by ThinkFilm and distributed theatrically in Canada, the U.S., and other territories. The press raved, saying it “could become a Canadian…classic” (NOW), and “it gives one hope” (Metro Daily).
His many short films range from experimental works to sponsored performing arts projects, and include the student film Criminal Language (1981), an underground work with a wide influence which led Fuse Magazine to describe him as “a tremendous filmmaking talent with respect both to his ability to create powerful and lasting images and to his depth of vision,” and Oroboros (1983), which filmmaker Atom Egoyan described as “seductive, disturbing and overwhelming,” and most recently the Travelling Medicine Show trilogy (Creation, Apocalypse and Transformation), which laid the groundwork for his third feature film.
Buchbinder’s filmmaking efforts began at age 11 – with a Super 8 film in which his Grade 6 class mounted an armed rebellion – and were then given free reign when he received a Super 8 camera for his 12th birthday. Meanwhile, between ages 13 and 16, he was publishing and editing the horror movie fanzine Fright and Fantasy. Later, he received his BFA and MFA in Film and Video from the California Institute of the Arts, where his mentor was Dr. Don Levy and his teachers included Chick Strand, Gene Youngblood and Alexander Mackendrick.
As a screenwriter, in addition to his own films, Buchbinder worked on a wide range of projects, some self-initiated and others for hire, in the Canadian film and television industries. His work was funded by Telefilm Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Harold Greenberg Fund, Film & Creative Industries Nova Scotia, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and other organizations. As story editor, and script doctor he worked with writers, producers and directors on well over a hundred feature film projects in funded development.
Buchbinder shared the insights gained in his first ten years of teaching screenwriting in the book The Way of the Screenwriter (House of Anansi Press, 2005), described by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Stewart Stern as “a gift that shines a clear light through the labyrinth we all have to pass through to do our best work,” and endorsed by filmmakers and screenwriters ranging from Christopher Nolan to Atom Egoyan. It combines a rigorous approach to screenwriting craft with an awareness of the uncertainty of the creative process.
An Associate Professor in Canada’s oldest and largest film department, he was on the faculty of York University in Toronto from 1995-2019. A former Chair of the Department (2009 – 2012), he was instrumental in development of its curriculum in both screenwriting and film production. He taught professional screenwriting workshops across Canada and in the UK, India, New Zealand, Iceland, Estonia, Turkey, Mexico and the United States.
Professor Buchbinder was a cinema nerd from a young age, and he put his encyclopedic film knowledge to work as a film programmer, notably for the Pacific Cinematheque (he also served as its president), the Vancouver International Film Festival (as Director of Programming) and the Toronto International Film Festival. Earlier, he created and programmed film series’ at his college, high school, middle school and summer camp. He consulted on curriculum and program policy for film schools and funding bodies, and sat on numerous juries for film festivals and arts councils.