Donald Sutherland takes on Pirate’s Passage

The veteran Canadian actor is co-writing, producing and starring in the animated movie, based on William Gilkerson's award-winning novel.
Donald Sutherland-1

Actor Donald Sutherland has boarded the animated movie Pirate’s Passage.

Sutherland’s production company, Martin’s River Ink, has begun production on the movie, which has animation work from Ottawa-based PIP Animation Services.

Pirate’s Passage is based on William Gilkerson’s novel, which won Canada’s Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature in 2006.

Sutherland and partner Brad Peyton are co-writing and producing the film, with Sutherland voicing the lead character.

Peyton is co-directing with PIP Animation’s Mike Barth.

Set in 1952 in Grey Rocks, Nova Scotia, Pirate’s Passage focuses on a 12-year-old boy who, although he is dealing with the death of his father and schoolyard bullying, is kept optimistic by a vivid sense of imagination and adventure. The sudden arrival of a sea captain, who becomes his mentor, changes his life.

Also starring in Pirate’s Passage is a slew of veteran and up-and-coming Canuck talent, including Gage Munroe (I Declare War, The Immortals), Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix), Kim Coates (Sons of Anarchy), Roy Moehner, Rossif Sutherland (King), Colm Feore (The Borgias), Megan Follows (Reign), Terry Haig (The Aviator), Paul Gross and Gordon Pinsent. Voice work will take place in Toronto and in Santa Monica, California’s POP Sound.

Pirate’s Passage is a thrillingly exhilarating adventure, a glorious coming-of-age story, rich in both imagination and history, in perception and truth. I couldn’t put the book down. It resonated with the clearest image of the man inside every boy’s being that I could imagine. It was life writ true and I knew Jim and Captain Johnson’s marvelous journey had to be seen on screen,” said Sutherland in a statement.

Eric Birnberg and Thomas Walden are exec producing, with Merle-Anne Ridley as voice director.

The film, which is slated to premiere on CBC, received financing from the Canada Media Fund (the CMF reported  $180,953 in funding for the project in 2007-2008 through the Canadian Television Fund) and the Cogeco Program Development Fund.

Tandem Communications is distributing the film worldwide, outside of Canada.