Presented by Cinémathèque Québécoise

When Tomorrow Dies

Directed by Larry Kent

Canadian Trailblazer Award: Larry Kent - World Premiere of Canadian International Pictures’ New 4K Restoration


Official selection

Toronto International Film Festival 1984


Larry Kent


Robert Harlow, Larry Kent


Douglas Campbell, Nikki Cole, Neil Dainard, Patricia Gage, Francesca Long, Des Smiley, Patricia Wilson


Canadian International Pictures

Canada 1965 88 mins OV English
Genre Drama

“Though bleak in tone, Kent’s ground-breaking film is uncommonly perceptive concerning the contradictory condition facing the independent woman in a sexist society”
– “Front & Centre”, Festival of Festivals, 9th International Film Festival, Toronto

“He (Kent) is considered in some quarters to be a genius, and in others to be merely a maker of smutty movies”
– Jack Moore, VANCOUVER PROVINCE, 1966

With his third feature, Larry Kent paradoxically both left and returned to UBC. For the first time, Kent had the budget to make a “professional” film. The result? He brought in cinematographer Douglas McKay, and professional theatre actors Patricia Gage and Douglas Campbell. At the same time, the script came from Robert Harlow, a professor in Creative Writing at UBC, and the film itself featured the campus of UBC. Turning away from “youth stories” also made sense for Kent, who was raising his own family while meeting the burdens of directing.

For Wynn (Gage), the freedom of the 1960s bypasses her. Married young, with two children, her days are filled with the chores of domesticity. The additional burden of a sickly father further places Wynn in dismal circumstances. The bright spot of Wynn’s existence comes in the form of a chance to reinvigorate her university studies (at UBC!), where she finds some sympatico with her English professor, Trevelyan. The clash of personal enrichment and desire verses familial duty inevitably brings Wynn’s life to a crisis point. Working with McKay brings a new visual style to Kent’s cinema, and the director takes liberties to develop visual flourishes, while maintaining his ever-watchful eye on Wynn’s claustrophobic existence.

Looking back, we can see Kent as a feminist ally, illustrating an era when hypocrisies of “free love” and “liberation” crash against implacable barriers of patriarchal expectation. The choice for “freedom,” so often presented for youthful characters, isn’t an easy option for a person with family and responsibilities. Wynn is the counterpart to THE BITTER ASH’s Laurie, who though she may be in a different economic milieu, nevertheless exists in the same oppression of being a “housewife.” – David Douglas