The Making of Monsters

In 1985, gay teacher Kenneth Zellers was murdered by five teenage boys in High Park, Toronto. In his experimental musical, John Greyson, enfant terrible of Canadian cinema, undertakes a comprehensive, activist’s analysis of the case. Employing Brecht’s strategies of defamiliarisation and an exuberant dose of provocation, Greyson reconstructs both the course of events and the media hype surrounding them in the form of a fictitious documentary that chronicles the making of a film about the murder. This, in turn, is subverted by his use of a number of different styles – including elements of news reports, staged drama, archive footage and music video sequences. The result is a radical, multi-layered study of homophobia that cuts through the thicket of white heteronormativity with bitterly ironic flair. Bertolt Brecht himself appears as a director in the guise of a fish, while dancers in jockstraps with ice hockey sticks and goaltender masks ignite a firework of queer joie de vivre, full of anger and self-determined charisma.
by John Greyson
with Ray Kahnert, David Gardner, Taborah Johnson, Lee MacDougal, Stewart Arnott, Claire Coulter
Canada 1990 English 35’ Colour


  • Ray Kahnert (Bertolt Brecht)
  • David Gardner (Georg Lukacs)
  • Taborah Johnson (Lotte Lenya)
  • Lee MacDougal (Joe Maguire)
  • Stewart Arnott (Vince)
  • Claire Coulter (Joe's Mother)


Written and Directed by John Greyson
Cinematography Almerinda Travassos
Editing Miume Jan
Music Glenn Schellenberg
Sound Herwig Gayer
Choreography Susan MacKenzie
Art Director Virginia Rankin
Producers Laurie Lynd, Louise Garfield, John Greyson

World sales

Canadian Film Centre

Produced by


John Greyson

The Canadian film and video artist was born in Nelson, British Columbia in 1960. He studied film at the Canadian Film Center and has made over 60 award-winning feature films, installations, transmedia works and shorts. In 1989, he won a Teddy Award for Urinal; in 1991, he received another for The Making of Monsters. His work combines documentary and fictional elements and explores issues including queer activism, homophobic violence, AIDS activism, anti-apartheid and anti-war struggles, conflicts in the Middle East, police entrapment and prison abolition. He has taught film production at York University in Toronto since 2014.

Filmography (selection)

1989 Urinal 1990 The Making of Monsters; short film 1993 Zero Patience 1996 Lilies 1997 Un©ut 1998 Herr; short film 2000 The Law of Enclosures 2001 Packin'; short film 2003 Proteus; co-director: Jack Lewis 2007 Orange Clouds 2009 Fig Trees · Covered; short film 2010 Rex Vs. Singh · 14.3 Seconds 2011 Green Laser; short film 2013 Murder in Passing 2017 Memurial; short film 2018 Gazonto; short film · Towel; short film 2020 Prurient; short film · Auterson Clock; short film 2021 International Dawn Chorus Day; short film

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2021