This Beautiful City Director




Director/Writer/Editor/Producer ED GASS-DONNELLY
Executive Producer/Producer LEE KIM
Cinematographer MICHA DAHAN
Production/Costume Designer RACHEL FORD


She is a prostitute and intravenous crack addict living in an area of Toronto that sees swank condo dwellers as her neighbours. She turns tricks to feed her addiction and struggles with the inconsistency of her boyfriend Johnny, also an addict. Her psychological dependency on pain and pleasure makes it difficult for Pretty to affect any kind of positive change in her life.

Actor Kristin Booth spent time with a crack-addicted prostitute as a form of research in order to mine authentic elements for the character of Pretty. “Crack – smashing” is a particularly brutal form of use that sees the victim cooking and injecting the rock form of cocaine. Coming from a middle-class family, Booth felt she needed a foothold and perspective on this kind of life that usually sees prostitution and drug addiction in co-dependency. She also spent a lot of time with co-star Aaron Poole in order to get to the heart of Pretty. “I couldn’t have gone to these places without Aaron,” says Booth. “When we started rehearsing, I was unsure of how to approach the character. Because Aaron is one of the producers, he’d been living with these characters for a really long time and knew both Johnny and Pretty inside out.”

“By delving into this character, I gained a new way of looking at aspects of the city and people living in these very particular areas…I think we become desensitized to many things…to human beings sitting on the street asking for help,” says Booth. “What this movie does is illustrates the heart behind these people that we see everyday.”

KRISTIN BOOTH made her feature film debut in the 2003 caper Foolproof alongside Ryan Reynolds and David Suchet. More recent projects include the BBC mini series The Company with Chris O’Donnell and Alfred Molina, The Tommy Douglas Story for the CBC, the indie feature Kardia, and a guest star role on the Global/TMN series Regenesis, which earned her a 2005 Gemini for “Best Supporting Actress in a Guest Role”. Counted among Kristin’s TV movie and miniseries credits are Missing for Lifetime, Show Me Yours on Showcase, Ken Finkleman’s CBC series The Newsroom, The Salem Witch Trials with Kirstie Alley and Henry Czerny, Sleep Murder with Jason Priestly, and Burn: The Robert Wraight Story with Alan and Jonathan Scarfe. Notable theatre credits include appearances with Soulpepper as Olivia in their production of Twelfth Night, and in the title role of 2005’s Olympia.


A reformed crack addict, he believes he can help his girlfriend, Pretty, get clean. Many obstacles stand in his way. Not only is their poverty an issue, requiring that they remain in a pimp/prostitute relationship, but now Johnny begins to suffer terrifying blackouts and bizarre nightmares that leave him increasingly unable to distinguish between fact and fiction. Still, he struggles to save himself and his lover from the wasting fate of the streets.

Actor Aaron Poole had to find the right balance in portraying a character with a dark side while maintaining a glimmer of hope. “It’s a tricky but potentially beautiful task exploring the dark side of a character,” says Poole. “How does somebody like Johnny overcome and escape his circumstances? Finding these specific tools of coping and capturing his active struggle imbues his violent seemingly irrational acts with a certain empathy. There’s no judgment. I think that’s what Ed (Gass-Donnelly) finds beautiful. “

A long-time friend of Gass-Donnelly, Poole also enjoys a creative kinship with the director. “Ed is fearless as a director. Not only does he achieve beautiful shots but he also holds high standards of performance. He makes an agreement with the actor on set: be great for the first couple of takes, don’t be afraid to suck through the next few, then let’s discover what happens next. Ed’s not afraid to go to 16 takes in an attempt to find brilliant and deeply authentic work.”

AARON POOLE is a rising part of the Toronto film scene. Recently, he beat out many of his peers, landing a regular role on TMN’s exciting new miniseries, Z.O.S.. His credits also include leading roles in Touch the Top of the World (A&E), Gangster Exchange (indie) and Barstool Words(indie), guest starring appearances on This Is Wonderland, as well as the workshop and development of many new works in film and theatre (most recently for the acclaimed Company Theatre in Toronto). In 2006 he wrote and produced the short film Empty, starring Michael Mahonen (This is Wonderland, Conspiracy of Silence), Karyn Dwyer (Better Than Chocolate, Superstar), and Julian Richings (The Claim, Hard Core Logo). This Beautiful City marks Aaron’s feature-length debut as a producer.


He is a man who has coasted through life without questioning what makes him happy. Great job, great home, great wife. He has achieved success by society’s standards – or so it would seem on the surface.

What Harry understands to be reality comes crashing down after a near-fatal event involving his wife, Carol. When Carol pulls back the curtain on their life together, Harry finally begins to examine himself.
“Harry’s post-crisis relationship with Carol is fundamentally about trying to hold on to the past,” says Noam Jenkins. “I believe somehow, at least subconsciously, he feels if he can get her to stabilize, he won’t have to face his own demons.”

Only newly aware of being emotionally estranged from his wife, Harry reaches out to the neighbourhood in what he initially believes to be an act of charity. He begins to “gift” the street-bound Pretty food and pocket change. In return, he gains a glimpse of her intimate life stories. “Harry’s relationship with Pretty is an awakening of a repressed side of himsel. It’s a relationship that is terrifying to him because it forces him to hold up that mirror and see that his preconceived model of himself – the contented, upwardly mobile architect with a social conscious and a beautiful wife – is a lie However, like the proverbial witness to a car accident, he cannot look away.”ThisBeautifulCity1

NOAM JENKINS is a formidable talent familiar to both stage and screen audiences. His feature film credits include featured roles in Saw II, Childstar, The Statement, Luck, Century Hotel, and Studio 54. He has had recurring roles on Regenesis, The Eleventh Hour, The Associates, and Earth: Final Conflict, and has guest-starred on Wild Card and Queer as Folk. Also well regarded for his stage work, Noam’s theater credits include Things are Falling Always and The Gospels Accordingly. In addition to This Beautiful City, Noam shot the lead role of Sonny Stanton in the upcoming feature film All Hat, in fall 2006.


After plummeting from her balcony, Carol (CAROLINE CAVE), miraculously escapes with only a crippled leg. In the aftermath, she is unable to verbalize to her husband what caused the fall, fearing he won’t understand the truth. But what is Carol’s truth? After being in a marriage that revolves around structure and expectation rather than deep satisfaction, Carol finds herself in a state of emotional isolation and painful internal crisis.

“I am intrigued by characters who set out to shock themselves, who attempt to disturb their old notions of who they are and what they want,” says Caroline Cave. “I was fascinated by Carol’s betrayal of her self-imposed, socially enforced role and what she believed to be her moral code.”

While her husband isolates himself in increasing anger and their marriage is reduced to kitchen banalities and crushing silence, Carol steals solace in brief encounters with the cop who helped her recover from the accident. “Carol’s essential journey is about rebelling by seeking authenticity. She makes the leap, figuratively and literally, and finds someone with which there is no history, no damage, something that gives her hope.”

CAROLINE CAVE has achieved success in both her stage and screen work. Her feature film credits include The War Bride, Almost American and Six Figures, which premiered at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival. On the small screen, Caroline can be seen in Stargate: Atlantis, The L Word, The Associates, and Regenesis. No stranger to the stage, her selected theatre credits include Past Perfect, Macbeth, The Royal Family, Three Sisters, and The Syringa Tree, which garnered her a Dora Mavor award in 2005.


Peter, the Toronto detective who discovers Carol after her fall, is haunted by failed attempts at finding his missing daughter. Suffering a breakdown, he is “let go” from the Department. Now the only semblance of emotional salvation comes from his secret meetings with the recovering Carol.

“Peter’s relationship with Carol is delicate,” says Stuart Hughes. “They are both wounded figures seeking a safe place to harbor.”

Much like the other main characters, Peter has sustained spiritual scarring, yet is still able to maintain hope—attempting to heal himself by reaching out to others.

“Peter struggles like all the other characters – often clumsily – to connect to tenuous elements of love.”

STUART HUGHES is an accomplished screen and stage actor. Some of his film and television credits include Where The Truth Lies, Troubled Waters, Street Time, Evidence of Blood, PSI Factor, and Forever Knight. He has also had the pleasure of working with many of Canada’s foremost theatres. Selected stage credits include King Lear, Fool For Love, She Stoops to Conquer, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Othello. Stuart won Dora Mavor Moore Awards for his work in The Collected Works of Billy the Kid and On the Verge. In addition, he is one of the founders of the acclaimed Soulpepper theatre company.

ED GASS-DONNELLY (Director/Writer/Editor/Producer)

Ed is an up-and-coming Toronto-based theatre and film director. His award-winning short films include Pink, Pony, Polished, and Dying Like Ophelia. He has directed music videos for several hit Toronto independent bands including FemBots, who provided most of the score for This Beautiful City. This Beautiful City is his first feature film.

LEE KIM (Executive Producer/Producer)

He has been actively involved in the entertainment industry as a producer, director, actor and musician for over 8 years. His producing credits include The Message, a short film that he directed, wrote and produced, and Smiling at the Sky, a feature film currently in development. As an actor, some of his film and television credits include Intelligence, Anonymous Rex, Bondage and guest appearances in Smallville, The Dead Zone, The Evidence, and Killer Instinct. Lee is also an accomplished singer/songwriter, having released an independent CD titled “Close to You” in 2000. His CD garnered attention across the country with radio play throughout Canada and the U.S. He has performed live in numerous venues and had TV interviews and performances on Canada AM, City-TV, and Breakfast TV.

Along with his involvement in the film and entertainment industry, Lee has a number of years experience in the business world. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto, with a degree in Economics. His business experience includes 6 years in the financial services industry as a consultant with a specialization in the brokerage and banking sectors. He has been involved in a number of high profile transactions, providing financial analysis and industry knowledge for his clients. He spent the majority of his time between Toronto and New York City until leaving the financial industry to pursue a career in the arts. It is the combination of the acting and business that led Lee to form Resolute Films and Entertainment in 2006.

MICHA DAHAN (Cinematographer)

She is a Juno nominated music video Director/Cinematographer. He has shot and directed videos for I Mother Earth, David Usher, Our Lady Peace, Holly MacNarland, and Finger 11. In addition to music videos, Micha has shot commercials, short films, documentaries, television shows; comedy, action, drama; special effects, and stop-motion animation. Recently he shot episodes of Urban Legends and Masterminds, and videos for Breaking Benjamin, and Our Lady Peace.

RACHEL FORD (Production/Costume Designer)

She designs both costume and environments. Her production design credits include Boundless, Outset and Chasing Aces. She has designed costumes for both stage and screen including Smart Woman Survival Guide, Design Rivals, The House, and Bounded Pairs. Her stage credits include The Bible and Romeo & Juliet Remixed, which garnered her a Dora Award Nomination for Outstanding Costume Design.