David Bezmozgis (born 1973) is a Canadian writer and filmmaker.
Life and career
Born in Riga, Latvia, he came to Canada with his family when he was six. He graduated with a B.A. in English literature from McGill University. Bezmozgis received an M.F.A. from the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television.
His short story Natasha, which originally appeared in Harper's, was included in the Best American Short Stories 2005 collection. His short story The Train of Their Departure, which The New Yorker featured in its August 2010 issue, is actually an excerpt from his first novel The Free World, released on April 4, 2011, to wide acclaim. His short stories Tapka and The Russian Riviera were also published in The New Yorker. His short stories The Second Strongest Man and A New Gravestone for an Old Grave have been published in Zoetrope All-Story. A New Gravestone for an Old Grave was also included in the Best American Short Stories 2006 collection.
His short story Minyan was published in the Winter 2002 issue of Prairie Fire and won the Silver Medal in the 2003 National Magazine Award for Fiction. His short story An Animal to The Memory was also published in Vol. 5, No. 2 (2002) of paperplates. His short story Rome, 1978 was published in the April 2011 issue of The Walrus.
His first published book is Natasha and Other Stories (2004, ISBN 0-374-28141-6). Stories from that collection first appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's and Zoetrope All-Story. Natasha and Other Stories was chosen for inclusion in Canada Reads 2007, where it was championed by Steven Page.
Bezmozgis's first novel The Free World (2011) was published in 2011. Set in Italy in 1978, Bezmozgis's novel chronicles the experience of Jewish refugees from the USSR. Critics in North America and in Europe have suggested that in this novel Berzmozgis presented through a fictional lens what another Jewish-Soviet immigrant Maxim D. Shrayer had described in his book "Waiting for America" (2007). It was subsequently nominated and shortlisted for the Giller Prize, the Governor General's Literary Award for English-language fiction and the Amazon.ca First Novel Award. and for the Governor General's Awards.
Bezmozgis' second novel, The Betrayers (2014) is about a famous Russian Jewish dissident who, after the fall of the Soviet Union, meets the man who denounced him. He also worked on the novel during a New York Public Library Cullman Center fellowship that he received. The novel was published in 2014 by Little, Brown and Company.
Short films and documentaries
In 1999, while still a film student at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Bezmozgis directed and wrote his first film, a short 25-minute documentary called L.A. Mohel, which won a major award for student filmmakers. In 2001, Bezmozgis wrote and directed a narrative short film entitled The Diamond Nose (2001), which starred Paul Lieber. In 2003, Bezmozgis directed a documentary entitled Genuine Article: The First Trial (2003), about the recruitment system for hiring law student interns used by Canadian law firms.
In 2008 he completed his first narrative feature film, Victoria Day (2009), which he wrote and directed. The film stars Mark Rendall. The film also had its world premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in the "World Cinema - Dramatic" category. It was also nominated for a Best Screenplay award at the 2010 Genie Awards. The film has also screened at the Shanghai International Film Festival, the Moscow International Film Festival, the Hamptons International Film Festival, the Athens International Film Festival, the Seoul International Youth Film Festival, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, and the Toronto Jewish Film Festival.
In 2015, Bezmozgis wrote and directed his second narrative feature film, Natasha (2015), based on his award-winning short story of the same name. The film stars Alex Ozerov and Sasha Gordon. Natasha was released theatrically in Canada by Mongrel Films in 2016. In 2017 the film received "Best Lead Actress" (Sasha K. Gordon) and "Best Adapted Screenplay" nominations from the Canadian Academy of Film and Television. It will be distributed in the United States theatrically by Menemsha Films, starting with an engagement at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas on April 28, 2017.
Bezmozgis was a writer-producer on the fifth and final season of Orphan Black.
- Recipient of the 2010 New York Public Library Cullman Center Fellowship
- Named as One of the "Top 20 Fiction Writers Under the Age of 40" by The New Yorker in 2010
- Silver Medal in the 2003 National Magazine Awards for Fiction, "Minyan" in Prairie Fire (Winter 2002 - Vol. 23, No. 4)
- Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction (2004)
- Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award for Fiction, Koffler Centre of the Arts (2005)
- Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award (UK) (2004)
- Shortlisted for the Governor General's Awards for Literature (2004)
- Shortlisted for the Borders Original Voices Award (2004)
- Winner of the Reform Judaism Prize for Jewish Fiction (2004)
- Winner of the Commonwealth First Book Prize for Caribbean/Canada (2004)
- Winner of the Danuta Gleed Literary Award for best first collection of short fiction in the English language (2005)
- Finalist for the National Magazine Awards for fiction (2005)
- Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (2005)
- Winner of the City of Toronto Book Award (2005)
- Winner of the JQ Wingate Prize 2005 Fiction, Natasha and Other Stories
- Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize (2011), The Free World
- Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize (2014), The Betrayers
- Winner of the National Jewish Book Award (2015), The Betrayers
- Winner of the Edward Lewis Wallant Award (2014), The Betrayers
Work (short stories) available online
- An Animal to The Memory in paperplates (2002 - Vol. 5 No. 2)
- Tapka from The New Yorker (May 19, 2003)
- The Second Strongest Man from Zoetrope All-Story (Summer 2003 - Vol. 7 No. 2)
- Natasha in Harper's Magazine (May 2004)
- The Russian Riviera from The New Yorker (May 30, 2005)
- A New Gravestone for an Old Grave from Zoetrope All-Story (Summer 2005 - Vol. 7 No. 2)
- The Train of Their Departure from The New Yorker (August 9, 2010)
- Rome, 1978 from The Walrus (April 2011)
Work about Bezmozgis available online
As writer and/or director
|1999||L.A. Mohel||Writer and Director (Short Documentary)||A Markham Street Film Production.|
|2001||The Diamond Nose||Writer and Director (Short Film)||A Markham Street Film Production.|
|2003||Genuine Article: The First Trial||Director (TV Movie Documentary)|
|2008||Victoria Day||Writer and Director (Feature Narrative Film)||A Markham Street Film Production.|
|2016||Natasha||Writer and Director (Feature Narrative Film)||A Markham Street Film Production.|