The name Gilda Radner puts a smile on the faces of people who remember watching her as one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live (1975-1980), where she created and portrayed such now-classic comic characters as Roseanne Roseannadanna, Emily Litella, Baba Wawa, and Lisa Loopner. She quickly rose to meteoric fame in television, movies and on Broadway, and was declared ‘one of America’s sweethearts.’

Her physical comedic genius has inspired many modern day comediennes. Gilda’s legacy lives on in the world of comedy but also in a deeper way. When Gilda was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she went public about her illness. Many followed her painful journey and when she died in 1989, felt like they’d lost a close friend.

Love Gilda takes you a journey  through Gilda’s heart and soul. We hear of her lonely childhood as chubby outsider and how she learns to make friends by telling jokes. She loses her father to illness at a young age and spends her life looking for love. When cast in  Saturday Night Live she becomes a star  and is on the cover on magazines. But goes home alone with the guilt of her eating disorder. She finds that fame is not happiness producing. She meets the actor Gene Wilder who helps her. They marry and after years of and she has a miscarriage. After many misdiagnoses, she finds out she has Stage 4 ovarian cancer. Gilda deals with her cancer in the only way she can, with humour. She makes a home movie of her 9th chemotherapy and starts recording her life story. She appeared on It’s Gary Shandling Show making cancer jokes and goes on a mission to write a book, so she can help others going though cancer. Through out her life, Gilda picks herself up after being knocked down and she shows us that even when facing challenges we still have the choice to enjoy the comedy of life.

The genius that was Gilda Radner ranks high in the comedy world, and she became a pioneering force for women to connect to. LOVE, GILDA, directed by Lisa D’Apolito, is a true autobiography, told in Gilda’s words and in her own voice. Working with the Radner Estate, Ms. D’Apolito unearthed a collection of diaries and personal audio and video tapes documenting her childhood, her comedy career, her relationships and ultimately, her struggle with cancer. This never-before-seen footage and journal entries form the narrative spine of the documentary, allowing Gilda to tell her own story–through the laughter and sometimes the tears. Incredibly, she was able to find humour in even the darkest of times.

Gilda’s spirit lives on in comedy as a female trailblazer who continues to inspire many present day comedic performers, including Bill Hader, Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudoloph, and Cecily Strong–who were all delighted to be part of the film. In especially moving scenes, they read excerpts from Gilda’s handwritten journals, often overcome with a mixture of reverence, emotion and of course, laughter. Also interviewed are SNL original cast members–Chevy Chase, Laraine Newman and Paul Shaffer–as well as, Lorne Michaels (SNL creator and producer), Alan Zweibel (SNL writer), Stephen Schwartz (Broadway composer); Andrew Alexander (CEO of Second City) and long-time friend Martin Short.

LOVE, GILDA opens up a unique window into the honest and whimsical world of a beloved performer whose greatest role was sharing her story. Gilda faced hilarious highs and tragic lows in an incredible life that echoed one of her most famous lines: It’s always something.

Four screenings, various locations. Tickets here.

Lisa D’Apolito,  Director/Producer, as well as producers Bronwyn Berry and Meryl Goldsmith will be attending a special Q&A at the Sunday April 29th, 1:15PM screening, at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

 

 

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.