The Twentieth Century

Toronto, 1899. The young William Lyon Mackenzie King is running for the office of prime minister. The satirical and anarchic fantasy biopic The Twentieth Century explores the tribulations of the young politician, who would go on to become a long-serving prime minister of Canada. Serious Oedipal conflicts, an obsession with worn shoes and anti-masturbation therapies make it difficult for the young Mackenzie King to pursue his calling. Driven on by his authoritarian mother, he stumbles through a claustrophobic world in the grip of a bitter winter in search of love. Filmed on 16 mm and Super 8, director Matthew Rankin tells King’s story via a Guy Maddin-inspired aesthetic; there are numerous echoes of silent films, melodramas and the comic literature of the 1930s. Cardboard sets that are at once minimalist and expressionist create a dreamlike backdrop for gender bending and theatrical acting. This debut lays out Canadian history in cheerfully perverted fashion, including ejaculating cacti and an ice-skating finale in a labyrinth of mirrors.
by Matthew Rankin
with Dan Beirne, Mikhaïl Ahooja, Catherine Saint-Laurent, Sarianne Cormier, Brent Skagford, Richard Jutras, Trevor Anderson, Kee Chan, Sean Cullen, Annie St-Pierre
Canada 2019 English, French 90’ Colour


  • Dan Beirne (Mackenzie King)
  • Mikhaïl Ahooja (Bert Harper)
  • Catherine Saint-Laurent (Ruby Elliott)
  • Sarianne Cormier (Nurse Lapointe)
  • Brent Skagford (Arthur Meighen)
  • Richard Jutras (Father)
  • Trevor Anderson (Mr. Justice Richardson)
  • Kee Chan (Dr. Milton Wakefield)
  • Sean Cullen (Lord Muto)
  • Annie St-Pierre (J. Israël Tarte)


Written and Directed by Matthew Rankin
Cinematography Vincent Biron
Editing Matthew Rankin
Music Peter Venne, Christophe Lamarche-Ledoux
Sound Design Sacha Ratcliffe
Sound Lynne Trépanier
Production Design Dany Boivin
Costumes Patricia McNeil
Producers Gabrielle Tougas-Fréchette, Ménaïc Raoul

Matthew Rankin

Born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1980. He studied at the Department of History and Classical Studies at McGill University in Montreal, as well as Université Laval in Quebec. In 2011, Rankin participated at Berlinale Talents. Following numerous short films, The Twentieth Century is his first feature film.


2006 Où est Maurice?; 5 min. · Death by Popcorn; 50 min. 2007 Sharhé Halé-Shakhsi; 3 min. 2008 Cattle Call; 4 min. · Hydro-Lévesque; 15 min. 2010 Negativipeg; 15 min. 2011 Tabula Rasa; 10 min. 2014 Mynarski: Death Plummet; 8 min. 2017 Tesla: World Light; 5 min.

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020