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Passage (2008 film)

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Directed byJohn Walker
Produced byAndrea Nemtin
John Walker
Kent Martin
Written byJohn Walker
Andrew Rai Berzins
StarringRick Roberts
Geraldine Alexander
Narrated byMinoru Fukushima
CinematographyKent Nason
Edited byJeff Warren
John Brett
PTV Productions
John Walker Productions
National Film Board of Canada
Release date
  • April 2008 (2008-04) (Hot Docs)
Running time
108 minutes

Passage is a 2008 documentary film partly based on the book Fatal Passage about Sir John Franklin's lost expedition through the Northwest Passage. The film explores the fate of the doomed mission, including John Rae's efforts to uncover the truth, and Lady Franklin's campaign to defend her late husband's reputation. The film also features Inuit statesman Tagak Curley, who challenges claims made by Lady Franklin supported by her powerful friend, the story teller[1] and "famous author Charles Dickens", widely reported at the time, that Aboriginal people were responsible for the signs of cannibalism among the remains of the doomed crew.[2]

It premiered at the Hot Docs film festival in Toronto, Canada in April 2008.[2]

Passage has two main storylines. The first shows John Walker and crew making an historical fiction film Fatal Passage with a screenplay by Andrew Rai Berzins. This includes script readings, discussions, and scenes from that film (which was not completed). The second story line is completely non-fiction. It includes historical narratives illustrated with paintings, cast and crew visiting the places Rae knew (Orkney, the Arctic), Inuit culture, and interviews with experts.

The film was written, directed and narrated by John Walker. It stars Rick Roberts as John Rae and Geraldine Alexander as Lady Franklin.


It won two awards at the Atlantic Film Festival: Best Director-John Walker and Best Cinematography-Kent Nason and Nigel Markham. Passage also received the Grand Prize for Best Canadian Production at the Banff World Television Festival. Critical praise for the film included Martin Knelman of the Toronto Star, who called the film "one of the great triumphs in Canadian documentary film history."[3]


  1. ^ Keal, Graham (2008-08-01). "The incredible true story of forgotten Scots explorer John Rae". Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail Ltd. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Documentary tackles role of Inuit in Franklin's ill-fated Arctic expedition". CBC News. 2008-05-05. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
  3. ^ "Four Canadian Directors Confirmed for CFC/NFB Feature Documentary Program" (Press release). CNW Group. 5 November 2008. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
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Passage (2008 film)
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