Two decades after his inspired feature debut The Hanging Garden won best Canadian Feature at TIFF, Thom Fitzgerald again explores interconnections of sexual identity, family, and small-town Nova Scotia life, in this intimate drama about a young woman reassessing her relationship with her mother following the death of her father.


Contemporary World Cinema


Thom Fitzgerald

After his The Hanging Garden won the Best Canadian Feature Film at TIFF, acclaimed Halifax-based director Thom Fitzgerald went on to direct numerous features and television productions, including the award-winning The Wild Dogs and the global epic 3 Needles. His latest feature, Splinters, is a dysfunctional family drama about a young lesbian at odds with her traditional mother.

Belle has come home to rural Nova Scotia for her father’s funeral. She came out as a teenager but has never reconciled that fact with her conservative mother, Nancy. Amidst the family’s grief, Nancy’s disapproval of Belle hangs in the air like a dark cloud. Belle neglects to mention to her family that she has been dating a man named Rob for the past two years. She is reluctant to rekindle her mother’s traditional expectations of her and backpedal on hard-won battles to assert her identity. But the secret becomes harder to hide when Rob shows up to be the supportive boyfriend.

Based on the stage play by Lee-Anne Poole, Splinters is anchored by the rich and layered performances of Sofia Banzhaf and Shelley Thompson as two strong-willed women whose lives are upended when their routine deadlock is disrupted. The constriction of small-town mores is offset by the spacious, rolling rural landscapes of Nova Scotia in this beautifully realized portrait of a young woman’s complicated relationship with her family, her past, and her home.



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