#GivingTuesday Fundraiser: ‘Codename Sally’ @ Hot Docs

By | November 28, 2017 at 7:30 pm | No comments |

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Date(s) - 28/11/2017
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM

Location: Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Order Tickets: https://boxoffice.hotdocs.ca/websales/pages/info.aspx?evtinfo=68600~fff311b7-cdad-4e14-9ae4-a9905e1b9cb0&epguid=a1a41036-cbe1-4f35-bc34-1ed13d4bd525&

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Codename Sally

November 28, 2017
Bloor Hotdocs Cinema
7:30 – 9:30 p.m. 
Tickets: $11.50 (PEN members should check their e-mails for a discount code)

Celebrate a literary and human rights anniversary:

25 years ago, Salman Rushdie famously emerged from hiding after the pronouncement of a fatwa against his life by the Ayatollah Khomeini, to attend a PEN Canada benefit in Toronto. There, Ontario premier Bob Rae, who will introduce the film, became the first head of government to welcome Rushdie in a public forum anywhere in the world.

Co-conspirators Louise Dennys, Ric Young, Adrienne Clarkson, John Ralston Saul, and Marian Botsford Fraser, together with Barbara McDougall, Bob Rae and Rushdie himself, recall the event and the intrigue. There is much to celebrate 25 years later—and much to be mindful of.

PEN Canada President Richard Stursberg, former Ontario Premier Bob Rae, writer Marian Botsford Fraser, and Executive Publisher and Executive Vice-President of Random House of Canada Louise Dennys join writer/producer Sturla Gunnarsson in a special post-screening discussion.

All proceeds from ticket sales go directly to PEN’s #GivingTuesday fundraising. To donate, click here.

Filmmaker’s Statement

I was at the PEN benefit twenty-five years ago and still remember what an electric, communal moment it was when Rushdie emerged from deep hiding to appear, unexpectedly, on the Winter Garden stage.  There was this powerful sense of community and of moral clarity, a feeling I’ve associated with PEN Canada ever since.

What I didn’t know at the time was what a compelling behind-the-scenes drama bringing Rushdie to Canada had been. Nor did I realize, until much later, that this was the seminal moment in his journey from fatwa to freedom. All of this became clear to me earlier this year, when Suzanne Depoe called on behalf of the PEN Canada Board to seek advice on how to go about making a film to commemorate the event. I agreed to meet with the principal players – Louise Dennys, John Ralston Saul, Ric Young, Marian Botsford Fraser and Adrienne Clarkson – and was captivated by the story. Doing a little internet search, I was dismayed to discover that the story is virtually unknown, and realized it would be lost forever if it wasn’t documented. My son, Ari, was visiting from China, where he makes documentaries, so I asked him to join me and make this film as a gift to PEN Canada, in recognition of the work they do to promote our most cherished value – freedom of expression.

To me this is a profoundly Canadian story about what a small group of people animated by a righteous ideal are capable of achieving. A modest little film with a big theme.

Sturla Gunnarsson
19 October, 2017

The Filmmakers

Ari Gunnarsson


Ari Gunnarsson is a Canadian photographer and filmmaker living in China.  He is a graduate of University of Kings College and McMaster University in Canada and has studied Chinese at Beijing Normal University.  He has had several gallery exhibits of his photography in Beijing and has directed music videos for Chinese record labels for bands including Djang San and The Harridans. Gunnarsson is currently making his first feature documentary, Chasing Spring.


Sturla Gunnarsson


Sturla Gunnarsson is an Oscar-nominated, Emmy Award-winning Canadian filmmaker. He has directed feature films, feature documentaries and over fifty hours of premium television drama, most recently including the Canadian Screen Award-winning police drama 19-2 and the CBC/Netflix comedy Schitt’s Creek.

Gunnarsson’s most recent film, Monsoon, was selected as one of TIFF’s ‘Top Ten Canadian Films’, winning the People’s Choice Award.  Previous TIFF-launched films include Force of Nature (People’s Choice Doc Award winner) Beowulf & Grendel (Gerard Butler, Stellan Skarsgard), Rare Birds (William Hurt, Molly Parker) and Such A Long Journey ( Roshan Seth, Om Puri).

Gunnarsson is the Past President of the Directors Guild of Canada.











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