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Sinyor, Gary (1962-)

Director, Producer, Writer

Main image of Sinyor, Gary (1962-)

Over the five films he has made to date, Gary Sinyor has established a modest, but distinctive niche within British cinema as a director of comedies which range from the whimsically romantic to the quirkily satirical. His best work evokes the spirit of Ealing in its affectionate mockery of aspects of British cultural identity and in its use of broad humour.

Born in Manchester in 1962, he attended The National Film and Television School and made his debut as a feature director with Leon the Pig Farmer (1992). Co-directed with Vadim Jean, the film draws a good deal on Sinyor's own Jewish background to paint a gently parodic picture of a confused young Jewish man, played by Mark Frankel, who is shocked to discover that he was actually conceived by artificial insemination and is really the biological son of a Yorkshire pig farmer.

Building on themes established in his earlier short film, The Unkindest Cut (d. Jim Shields, 1990), the film works a familiar vein of Jewish humour, but adds a cinematic inventiveness which sometimes borders on the eccentric. Its effect is bolstered by a number of fine comic performances from its strong cast, not least Brian Glover. Despite its low budget, the film turned into a considerable popular and critical success, winning the Chaplin Award for Best First Feature at the Edinburgh Film Festival. As with his next two features, Sinyor was also involved in writing the script.

Much of Sinyor's reputation still rests on Leon the Pig Farmer, with little of his subsequent work managing to find the same level of appeal. Solitaire for Two (1995) is a playful and romantic piece with a strong element of fantasy. Amanda Pays plays a woman whose ability to read minds creates difficulties for her prospective suitor (Mark Frankel again) in a film which is slight in comparison with Sinyor's debut, but which retains something of the same sympathy for its characters.

There is a return to parody in Stiff Upper Lips (1998), which satirises the popular Merchant-Ivory brand of literary adaptation, particularly A Room With a View (d. James Ivory, 1986). Georgina Cates plays the unfortunate Emily, caught up in her family's marital schemes, in an Edwardian comedy of bad manners. If the humour is sometimes a little too much in of the Carry On school, Sinyor still manages to puncture the pomposity of an overly self-regarding and class-conscious British genre with some aplomb. Along with much of Sinyor's work, the film treads a slightly precarious line between mocking film clich├ęs and relying on them for its narrative structure. As with Leon the Pig Farmer, Sinyor was also his own producer on the film.

Following the moderate success of these films, Sinyor took the familiar path of many British directors and made his next film, The Bachelor (1999) in the United States. The film is a relatively conventional romantic comedy, based loosely on Buster Keaton's silent Seven Chances (1925). His last completed film, Love Hurts (2000), has not so far received a commercial release.

Hooper, Caroline, 'Art of the Deal', Screen International, 7 Aug 1992, pp. 8-9
Jones, Graham and Lucy Johnson, Talking Pictures: Interviews with Contemporary British Film-makers (London: BFI Publishing, 1997)
Trower, Marcus, 'Gary Sinyor: Writer-Director', Empire, March 1995, pp. 42-3

Robert Shail, Reference Guide to British and Irish Film Directors

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