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First Winter (1981)

With the father away, an Irish immigrant family struggle to survive their first winter in the Canadian wild.


John N. Smith


Gloria Demers (screenplay), Cynthia Scott (screenplay)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Kathleen McAuliffe Kathleen McAuliffe ... Mother
Sharon O'Niell Sharon O'Niell ... Daughter
Eric Patrick Godfrey Eric Patrick Godfrey ... Son
Kevin Kennedy Kevin Kennedy ... Father


On their first winter in their new home of Canada, an Irish immigrant family is finding life a struggle at the best of times. Now, with the father away for work during the winter, the mother and the children labor for a bare existence. Then tragedy strikes and the young survivors must call upon their inner strengths to make it through the unforgiving season. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@home.com>

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Short | Drama | History

User Reviews

A Rare Irish-Canadian Tale
29 August 1999 | by GlaschuSee all my reviews

Oscar-nominated for best short film the year it was released, this touching film in English and Irish Gaelic tells the story of young girl and her brother's survival in the Canadian wilderness. It is the nineteenth-century era of pioneer immigration. Father is some distance away and Mother and two children try to survive the first winter in the wilds.

The film shows the loneliness of that first year and the tragedy that often accompanied dispossessed peoples on arrival in the New World. The three characters in this ensemble piece rely on memories of their culture, stories and songs to cope with their new and strange environment. Some aspects of the film stretch one's belief, particularly the children's lone survival, but the acting is fine and the children play their roles endearingly and convincingly.

It is a rare but pleasant event to see Irish Gaelic in a Canadian film. The native language of Irish and Scottish Gaels is so often ignored in films concerning these cultures.

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English | Irish

Release Date:

1981 (Canada) See more »

Filming Locations:

Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada

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