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STEPHEN HOSIER'S GROUNDBREAKING 'ATTILA' SHAKES AUDIENCES TO THEIR CORE



Stephen Hosier is a Toronto-based filmmaker and producer. A graduate of Toronto Metropolitan University (2014), Hosier has directed several documentaries sharing the stories of homelessness, mental illness, and addiction, including his feature directorial debut, Attila (2024), streaming now on Crave.


In Attila, Hosier joins his childhood friend, Richard Csanyi, in investigating the life and death of the latter’s twin brother who became homeless as he grappled with opioid addiction and schizophrenia. The project was produced to shine a light on the systemic obstacles experienced by underserved Canadians. The Globe and Mail critically acclaimed that: “Hosier’s debut feature-length doc, Attila heralds an immensely promising and uncompromising talent.” The film was endorsed by Raising the Roof, Youth Without Shelter and The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).


Hosier is also known for his short films including, The Man Who Walks Backwards (2021), which shares the story of a Toronto resident living with schizophrenia and who had struggled with homelessness before finding refuge in a long term care home. The film was released on Bell Let's Talk Day in association with the Schizophrenia Society of Canada and distributed by the Toronto Star. 

Hosier spent seven years as the lead film producer at the Canadian Olympic Committee sharing stories on behalf of numerous high-profile Canadian Olympians.


Interview by Rebeccah Love


Can you describe your childhood? What kinds of creative activities did you most enjoy?


Since I was a kid, I've enjoyed making movies. I was always the one with the home video camera in hand on family trips etc. 


How would you describe your teenage years? How did you spend your free time?


During high school I continued filming. I would shoot and edit the high school end of year highlight videos and make other videos with friends. 'Eggin' n' Shit' was a fan favourite. I was also a runner. 


What art did you gravitate towards in your youth? (Books, music, movies..)


Mostly music, drawing, and movies. I've begun reading more in recent years. John Lennon has been a lifelong favourite artist but Brian Wilson has been my hero since grade 6 when I first heard the song ‘Surf’s Up.’ It’s probably the most amazing thing I’ve ever heard. In terms of drawing, I loved the work of Charles M. Schulz as a kid.


What high school classes did you enjoy the most? Did you have any standout teachers?


Media studies, communications technology, and anthropology. I've had many great teachers over the years, some of whom I'm still in touch with. 


What route did you take after graduating from high school? What were the big questions that fascinated you the most, going into adulthood?


I attended Toronto Metropolitan University where I studied film and ran as the solo varsity track and field athlete. I was known then as 'The Lone Ram.' 

I wasn't very mindful back then, and the burning questions I'd ruminate on have escaped me now.  


What kinds of filmmakers have you enjoyed the most in your adult life?


I don't think I'm drawn to particular filmmakers per se. Moreso specific films;


Prisoners

I, Daniel Blake

City of God

The Wrestler

Che Part 1

War Dogs 

The Hangover 


Can you talk about 'Attila'?' What is this film all about? What questions are you exploring in this work?


Attila is a feature documentary I've just completed with the help of many, where I follow my childhood friend, Richard Csanyi, as he investigates the life and death of his twin brother Attila. I believe the story helps illuminate, in a very personal way, the cross section of child welfare, mental illness, addiction, and homelessness, with the hope of inciting more compassion for people who struggle with these issues. It was also a way to honour Attila. 


What is the greatest challenge you have encountered in telling stories about mental health? Why are mental-health based narratives important? 


Attila and Richard were very close friends of mine growing up, so to learn of the horrific things they endured in their early childhood was very troubling to hear. 


I'm inspired by my dad's lifetime's work in the field of mental health, addiction, etc. He is a very compassionate person and has done a lot of good work in his career to assist those in need. I hope to help others in the ways I know how as well. Helping to share the stories of those who wish to be heard, is one way I suppose. 


Do you find Toronto to be an artist-friendly city?


Yes, for the most part! 


Why is art and filmmaking important?


I don't know if it's as important as some people would like to think it is... 

With that said, I don't know what I would do without it either.


Which artists in your own community do you admire?


Alan Zweig ('Hurt'), Mark Zibert, Miles Jay.

And the dancers at National Ballet of Canada ('Swan Song' was pretty amazing) 


What are you looking forward to?


The Four Agreements 


'Attila' is available to screen on Crave.

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