Fonds PR-2086 - Phillip Borsos fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Phillip Borsos fonds

General material designation

  • textual record
  • graphic material
  • moving images
  • sound recording
  • multiple media

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the fonds.

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1970-2010, predominantly 1975-1995 (Creation)
    Borsos, Phillip, 1953-1995

Physical description area

Physical description

ca. 22 m of multiple media

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Archival description area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Phillip Borsos (1953-1995) was born in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, on May 5, 1953. His family moved to BC when he was five. He trained as a filmmaker at the Vancouver School of Art and became one Canada’s most highly regarded film directors. His early work included three acclaimed documentary shorts: “Cooperage” (1976), “Spartree” (1977), and “Nails” (1979). “Nails” was nominated for, but did not win, the 1979 Academy Award in the Documentary (Short Subject) category; it was also recognized with a Genie Award for Outstanding Theatrical Short in 1980. His most important feature film, made in British Columbia, was “The Grey Fox” (1982) about American train robber Bill Miner. “The Grey Fox” received a Genie Award in 1983 for Best Achievement in Direction. An international co-production directed by Borsos, “Bethune” (1990), about the Canadian doctor Norman Bethune who worked in China, did not fare as well with the critics or viewers, but Borsos’ efforts were acknowledged with a Genie Award in 1991 for Best Achievement in Direction. His last feature film, “Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog” (1995), was partly filmed on his own property on Mayne Island. Borsos died of leukemia in Vancouver, BC, on February 2, 1995.

Borsos operated under a variety of company names during his film career. His first documentary was produced under the name Rocky Mountain Films (with business partner Jim Makichuk). His other short films and commercials were mainly produced through Mercury Pictures Inc. The feature film “The Grey Fox” was produced by Grey Fox Pictures Inc. (active 1979-1996). The feature film “One Magic Christmas” was produced by North Pole Pictures Company. Later in his career, Borsos developed film projects under the company name The Radio Telegraphic Company. He also appears to have contracted his directorial services through a company called Tatterdemalion. His final feature, “Far from Home”, was produced by The Yellow Dog Picture Company.

Custodial history

Prior custodians after Phillip Borsos’ death were the Simon Fraser University Archives (where the records were not accessioned), the Borsos Estate lawyer and co-executor G. Chalmers Adams, motion picture processing and storage facilities in Canada and the United States, and a Borsos family member in Canada. The BC Archives, Royal BC Museum, under an exclusive lease with the Borsos Estate, had physical custody of the Phillip Borsos fonds between 1997 and December 11, 2007 when the Estate, along with the Radio Telegraphic Company, Inc. and Mercury Pictures Inc., donated the fonds.

The BC Archives received the bulk of the fonds from Simon Fraser University Archives and G. Chalmers Adams, co-executor of the Borsos Estate, in 1997. G. Chalmers Adams arranged additional transfers after 1997 of motion picture elements and other media from processing and storage facilities, as well as from his own office and the home of a Borsos family member. The final accrual was received in 2012.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of film, videotape, audio tape, photographs, screenplays, production files, correspondence, company files, and publicity materials documenting the career of Phillip Borsos as a filmmaker from the early 1970s to 1995, as well as some posthumous documentation up until 2010. The fonds contains motion picture elements, files, scripts, and other materials relating to films made by Borsos or considered for production by Borsos and his companies. The film projects chronicled include the documentary shorts "Cooperage", "Spartree", "Phase Three", "Nails", and "Racquetball", and the features "The Grey Fox", "One Magic Christmas", "Bethune", and "Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog." The fonds also includes Borsos' journals and miscellaneous personal papers.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


The fonds is arranged into the following series:

  • Company records
  • Early film productions
  • Commercials
  • Film development projects and financial files
  • Feature film productions
  • Miscellaneous personal papers
  • Journals
  • Interviews, tributes, and posthumous coverage.

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Script of material

Location of originals

For originals and reproductions of specific moving image and sound recording titles, see the item-level descriptions online.

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

  • Some files are restricted access due to personal information.
  • Conservation restriction: original audio, video and film material in cool or cold storage is not accessible.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

The Royal BC Museum does not own copyright on the entire fonds.
Copyright on some material is held by the Government of British Columbia.

Requests for copies and commercial use of films, videotapes, photographs or screenplays by Borsos should be directed to:
G. Chalmers Adams, Suite 245, 55 St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto, ON M4V 2Y7; telephone: 416-929-7232; fax: 416-929-7225.

Finding aids

Series-level file lists are linked from the online series descriptions.
Item-level descriptions of the films, videos and sound recordings are available online.

Associated materials

Related materials


No further accruals are expected.

General note

Accession number(s): 93-1928; 2013.078; F1999:01; F2007:01; SD0257; T4404; V1999:01; V2007:03

General note

Archives code(s): The Borsos fonds was previously described as series AAAA1306.

General note

Archives code(s): The Borsos moving image material was previously listed under series AAAA8085.

Physical description

Includes film reels, magnetic tracks, optical tracks, optical discs, video reels, videocassettes, audio reels, audio cassettes, audio compact discs, photographs, technical drawings, maps, prints, production boards and computer disks.


Sound recording and moving image originals are in cool or cold storage.

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