The Sweet Hereafter

1997 Drama

Atom Egoyan's haunting adaptation of the Russell Banks novel The Sweet Hereafter was the Canadian filmmaker's most successful film to date, taking home a Special Grand Jury Prize at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival and scoring a pair of Academy Award nominations, including Best Director. Restructured to fit Egoyan's signature mosaic narrative style, the story concerns the cultural aftershocks which tear apart a small British Columbia town in the wake of a school-bus accident which leaves a number of local children dead. Ian Holm stars as Mitchell Stephens, a big-city lawyer who arrives in the interest of uniting the survivors to initiate a lawsuit; his maneuvering only drives the community further apart, reopening old wounds and jeopardizing any hopes of emotional recovery. Like so many of Egoyan's features, The Sweet Hereafter is a serious and painfully honest exploration of family grief; no character is immune from the sense of utter devastation which grips the film, not even the attorney, whose interests are in part motivated by his own remorse over the fate of his daughter, an HIV-positive drug addict. more..

Director: Atom Egoyan

Starring: Ian Holm,Sarah Polley, Bruce Greenwood, Tom McCamus, Arisnee Khanjian


  • This is one of the best films of the year, an unflinching lament for the human condition.

    Roger Ebert - The Chicago Sun-Times

    11 May 2013

  • Leaves you shaken and ecstatic at the same time, transported by the vision of a major film artist.

    Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly

    11 May 2013

  • Egoyan's voice is so clear and loving, his vision so forgiving and his film so intelligent that you come away refreshed.

    Edward Guthmann - The San Francisco Chronicle

    11 May 2013

  • Masterpiece is the right word for The Sweet Hereafter. It is extraordinary: a poem of familial pain, a song of broken embraces.

    Michael Wilmington - The Chicago Tribune

    11 May 2013

  • This poetic and compassionate drama by Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan combines the intricate structure of his earlier movies with an emotional power that raises his remarkable career to a whole new level.

    David Sterritt - Christian Science Monitor

    11 May 2013


  • Best Director

    Academy Awards (1998)

  • Best Canadian Film or Video over 60 Minutes

    Atlantic Film Festival (1997)

  • Best Supporting Actress

    Boston Society of Film Critics Awards (1997)

  • Atom Egoyan

    Cannes Film Festival (1997)

  • Best Actor

    Chicago Film Critics Association Awards (1998)