Paul Gross on 'Hyena Road,' trust and modern warfare

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Paul Gross

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Trailer here.

IMDB here.

Film synopsis

Paul Gross (Passchendaele) directs and co-stars in this taut war drama about Canadian troops in Afghanistan weathering Taliban attacks while struggling to complete construction on a crucial highway link.

Writer-director-star Paul Gross' new film portrays the heroic duties undertaken by Canadian armed forces in Afghanistan with the same gut-wrenching immediacy that Gross brought to the blood-soaked Belgian battlefields of First World War in his epic PasschendaeleHyena Road is a masterful examination of modern warfare that drops viewers straight into the belly of the beast.

Depicting an embattled Canadian-American initiative to increase safe transport across Afghanistan, Hyena Road is a group portrait of men and women at work in a dangerous and often confounding conflict zone.

We meet a sniper (Rossif Sutherland who becomes precariously implicated in the life of one of his targets -- as well as the life of an alluring colleague (Christine Horne). There's an intelligence officer whose customary world-weary wisecracks -- "Even the dirt is hostile" -- veil a fundamental belief in the ethics of war.

And the film introduces us to a legendary former mujahid known as The Ghost (Neamat Arghandabi) who, for mysterious reasons, is lured back into the battle zone to assist the Canadian forces.

All these characters' trajectories collide in ways that illustrate the triumphs and frustrations that occur amid the moral uncertainty of war. Alternating between relatively tranquil scenes of life at the base and adrenalized sequences that thrust us into the heat of battle, Gross orchestrates a cinematic symphony of soldiering: the highs and lows, the brotherhood and barbarity. 

Hyena Road does what great war movies can do: it carefully examines the plight of a few so as to speak to the experience of many.

Biography

Paul Gross is internationally known for his role as Constable Benton Fraser on the multiaward-winning drama series Due South. He was honoured with two Gemini Awards for Best Actor, and one Gemini Award for his writing on the series. Gross also received two Gemini Awards for best performance by an actor in the critically acclaimed series Slings & Arrows. In 2000, Gross wrote, directed and starred in the feature film Men with Brooms, which was the highest-grossing English-language Canadian film of the previous 20 years. He also starred in, co-wrote and produced the miniseries H2O as well as its sequel The Trojan Horse.

In 2008 Gross released his feature film Passchendaele, a movie based on the famous First World War battle heroically fought by 50,000 Canadians in the bloodied fields of Ypres, Belgium. Passchendaele, which Gross wrote, directed and starred in, was the highest grossing Canadian film of 2008 with the box office reaching over $4.5 million, and won five Genie Awards, including Best Picture. He starred in the ABC series Eastwick based on the movie The Witches of Eastwick, opposite Rebecca Romijn, Jamie Ray Newman and Lindsay Price and the movie Gunless and also Executive Produced the series Cra$h & Burn and The Yard. Gross earned a degree in drama at the University of Alberta, and went on to perform extensively in Canadian regional theatres in addition to forging a writing career. His first play, The Deer and the Antelope Play, performed in Edmonton, won the Clifford E. Lee National Playwriting Award and the Alberta Cultural Playwriting Award (1982).

His numerous acting credits also include starring roles in the television movies Murder Most Likely, Getting Married in Buffalo Jump, and Buried on Sunday and the miniseries Prairie Giant: The Tommy Douglas Story and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, and Chasing Rainbows. Gross also performed in the feature films Barney's Version, Wilby Wonderful, Aspen Extreme, Cold Comfort, Paint Cans, Whale Music and Married To It.

On stage, Gross performed the title role in the Stratford Festivals 2000 production of
Hamlet to record-setting audiences. He received a 1985 Dora Award nomination for his performance as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and a Dora Award for Best Performance for his role in the critically acclaimed North American premiere of Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Toward the Somme (1988) which played at Toronto's CanStage. In the fall of 2011 he appeared in Noel Coward's Private Lives opposite Kim Cattrall (Sex and the City) on Broadway and at the Royal Alex in Toronto and in 2012 he starred in John Guare's Are You There, McPhee? at the McCarter Theatre at Princeton. Gross has received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award and the Pierre Burton Award. He was recently appointed to the Order of Canada and also received the Earle Grey Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award, from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.

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