“Passchendaele” – the Canadian story of the Third Battle of Ypres

Paul Gross (Due South, Slings and Arrows) is nothing if not totally passionate about his current project, the epic movie Passchendaele, a First World War romance inspired by stories his maternal grandfather, Private Mike Dunne, told him when he was a boy. Those stories – harrowing tales of life in the trenches, of comradeship and loss – remained with him, becoming the basis for this ambitious project. “The Battle of Passchendaele was one of the great crucibles of the First World War in which thousands of Canadians took part. My grandfather was one of them,” said Gross. “His stories about the war have resonated throughout my life and it’s our hope that Passchendaele will ignite a similar interest and justifiable pride in the grit and valour of all the Canadians who fought for their country, contributing to the birth of the nation.”

The film, now in principal photography in Alberta, Canada, follows a Calgary soldier’s life as he joins the front lines of World War I and culminates in the battle at Passchendaele. In the offensive, after 16 days of fighting, Canadian troops successfully took the Belgian town following three months of failed allied attacks on the German lines. Twenty thousand Canadian soldiers fought in the battle, considered to be a defining moment in Canada’s military history. Five thousand of these men never returned home.

Rhombus Media, Whizbang Films and Damberger Film and Cattle Company recently announced that the film will star Gross and Caroline Dhavernas (Breach, Hollywoodland). Written and directed by Gross, the film is produced by Niv Fichman (Rhombus Media), Frank Siracusa (Whizbang Films) and Francis Damberger (Damberger Film and Cattle Company). The producers have also launched a website and blog that will be updated direct from the set of the film. Passchendaele is scheduled to launch in Canada on Remembrance Day, 11 November 2008.


© Carole Gordon 2007


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