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Martin I. Petrov

Cine-voyeur. Festival traveller currently based in Glasgow, UK. 

Festival director at WoFF: World of Film International Festival Glasgow. 

Festival Coordinator at MIAFF: Montreal International Animation Film Festival 

Writing reviews, articles and a passionate interview lover. 


Stephen Dunn on his debut feature Closet Monster


Stephen Dunn is a Canadian director, writer and producer and Closet Monster is his first feature film. It premiered at TIFF 2015 and received the Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film.

Closet Monster tells the story of teen boy Oscar, growing up with his single dad. Oscar is working in the local supplies store but aspires to go to NYC and study to become a production designer and photographer. When he meets his fellow colleague Wilder, Oscar is enchanted by his charm and mysteriousness. A deep childhood trauma, though, doesn’t allow the young boy to break free from the memories that torture him and become the reason to repress his sexuality. While he gradually gets to know Wilder better, he undergoes a strong emotional transformation, combined with the lack of support from family and a troubled teenagehood.

In a coming of age drama, spiced with few bitter-sweet moments and great performance from young Connor Jessup, Dunn delivers a fresh, daring and powerful debut, which, albeit its single-character focus, carries the heaviness of a personal story transcribed into a rather universal message.

Is the film inspired by a personal or true story?

It’s a very personal film. Something I always wanted to make, powered by the idea of extracting an internalised homophobia in a more physical way.

Oscar’s character is affected by a childhood trauma, caused by witnessing a murder at the graveyard close to his school. This seems to be the main reason for repressing his sexuality, rather than bullying that would be the issue for most kids at his age…

It is actually inspired by true events, it is not fictional. When I was young, similar events happened several times in my hometown. I haven’t witnessed any myself, but these crimes were hitting the headlines every now and then; it was really scary. This is why it took me a while to actually be able to confront this internalised homophobia that was growing with time, and it became one of the most important reasons to make this film.


Oscar is growing up with his dad, whereas usually gay boys are closer to their mothers. Why did you choose to create this contrast, or was it for additional dramatic value?

They do have a bond, a connection, although his dad is homophobic and they don’t share the same understanding of values. I think Oscar’s connection with his father is based on fear and prevents him from who he really is. The relationship with his mother on the other hand is mostly about abandonment and refusing to recognise the support she is providing, because he has to admit something he truly fears first.

The soundtrack is quite an interesting selection of songs. Are there some personal choices as well?

Yes, most of it was actually included in the script. I was also very lucky to get all the bands agree to feature their songs in the film. Also, one of the members of Austra, an amazing Toronto based band, scored the film with both existing tracks and some organic, electronic score that creates a line between the songs, generating a more cohesive tone.


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