Canadian filmmaker Patricia Rozema is known for making films imbued with feminist passion that enrapture art-house audiences even as they mystify those headed for the multiplex. She made an auspicious feature directorial debut in 1987 with I've Heard the Mermaids Singing. The story of an unfulfilled thirty-something single woman living in Toronto, the film -- which Rozema also wrote, co-produced, and edited -- earned stellar reviews and was subsequently voted by 100 international critics, filmmakers, and scholars as one of the ten best Canadian films ever made. Rozema went on to win additional recognition with her somewhat controversial adaptation of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, which was released in 1999.
The daughter of strict Dutch Calvinist immigrants, Rozema was born in Ontario in 1958 and raised in Sarnia, a small petrochemical industrial town on Lake Huron. Growing up with little access to films or TV, it was not until she went on a date to see The Exorcist (1973) that she was properly introduced to the cinema. After going on to earn her B.A. in philosophy and English literature at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI (where she also won a number of awards for theatrical writing and directing), she returned to Canada in 1981 and worked on the CBC nightly news program The Journal. Rozema began her film career five years later after taking a five-week-long night course in film production. She debuted with Passion: A Letter in 16mm, a short that garnered a prize at the 1985 Chicago Film Festival. Two years later, after working as an assistant director on David Cronenberg's The Fly (1986) and on a few television series, she made her major directorial debut with I've Heard the Mermaids Singing.