Brigitte Bako Part 1

Canada has many talented actors, writers, producers, and other content creators. To help our industry grow, we would like to introduce you to some talented folks who have managed to capture that magic on screen. 

This week we spoke with Montreal writer, producer, and performer Brigitte Bako. 

Brigitte has too many professional film and TV credits to mention but some of those include New York Stories, Strange Days, The Red Shoes Diaries, I Love a Man in Uniform, The TV series G-Spot, Californication, Godzilla, Gargoyles…etc. Brigitte grew up in the Montreal suburb, Cote Saint Luc and now has homes in Los Angeles, Manhattan and Southampton. Of course, our conversation was extensive so we decided to make it a three-part series. 


HNMAG: You went to Dawson College after high school.

Brigitte: I was in Fine Arts and I took some classes at the Dome. The Dome Theatre school was out of the Richelieu campus. It was like the Fame School as part of Dawson. My first great love, Bruce Ramsey, when I was 17, told me he was an actor. I was amazed that you could really actually do it, not just think about it, in Montreal. It was really at Dawson that I realized that I could do this. It was run by a wonderful Trinidadian man named Bertrand Henry. A high percentage of graduates went on to have careers as working actors. The campus was in Saint Henri. It’s not there anymore. I went back and forth from there to the fine arts campus in Old Montreal. A nice girl from Cote Saint Luc had never been to Saint Henri before, so it was eye-opening.


HNMAG: Tell me about your family history.

Brigitte: I had older parents. My mom was forty when she had me and my dad was fifty-three. I’m a descendant of Holocaust survivors. With most of my friends, it’s their grandparents. I’m a textbook, first-generation, overachieving child of Holocaust survivors. My parents were lucky…well lucky? My mother saw her father shot in the snow by the Gestapo, how lucky is that? She was never in a camp though. My father was in the resistance. He was a fighter. He’s honored at Yad Vashem and quite the hero. My mom was fourteen when the war broke out and she ran. She would tell you, as many survivors will, that they were liberated by the Russians. They did not get liberated by the Americans. All their friends in Montreal were Holocaust survivors, so I grew up with them. Two different types of people came out of that war. Broken or those who really lived. I was very lucky that they were both the last of the great romantics. After the war, my father went to live in Morocco with the King. He lived in a palace for five years. Then he lived in Nice, then Paris. He spoke nine languages and English was not one of them. My mother spoke thirteen languages and French was not one of them. She lived in Capri, Italy, then Cuba, then New York where she married a gay cousin for a Green Card. After the war, they shtupped their brains out. They had lovers all over the world and they lived! I grew up with that energy. My mother hated the snow and winter, so she would fall into a depression every winter. She didn’t believe in therapy. It took ther forever to realize, oh, it was February when the Gestapo rounded up all the men in their town and shot them dead in front of her.


HNMAG: Was that in Slovakia?

Brigitte: Czechoslovakia, probably more on the Slovak side but I always thought she was more from the Czech side.


HNMAG: Where was your dad?

Brigitte: My dad was from a little town near Bratislava, Slovakia. When I was twenty-five years old, my mother divulged that my real father was a very wealthy Italian-Jewish man named Bookie Finzi. He was a colleague of my father’s in the war. I’m about nineteen shades darker than my blond, Slavic family. I was like what, I’m an Italian Heiress? This makes so much sense! He died when I was thirteen, so I never met him. My mother would always take me into instant photo booths when I was a kid. I always wondered who she was taking them for. I also received a gift of a DNA history exam and it came back as fifty-four percent Italian. It made so much sense. Before I found out, I just felt so at home in Italy and questioned how I’m not Italian. I want to live part of my life there.


HNMAG: I saw the short you produced, David and Goliath.

Brigitte: Wasn’t that beautiful? My friend directed that. It was shortlisted for the Academy Awards, and it won around forty-five awards around the world, just from a story about my father. I was back in Canada for an awards show and my friend George and my father were my dates. That’s when my father told George the story about a German shepherd saving his life and George said he was going to make a movie about it. My father was in the underground and he had been found out. He was being chased by the Gestapo, he ran by this farmhouse and there was a sign in German that warned him to be aware of a dog. Then there was a dog barking ferociously. He gets the dog to be quiet with a hand signal. My father says something very interesting. When the Gestapo approached the dog went crazy and wouldn’t let them pass. Because the German shepherd was the national dog, the Gestapo would not shoot it. It was forbidden. My father lost twelve brothers during the war. Whenever he saw war footage when I was young, I would ask him if he was looking for his brothers and he said he was looking for the dog. Years after the war, my father was a major in the Czechoslovakian army, he found the man who helped him hide. He was able to get him out of jail. They remained friends until the man passed away twenty years later.


Please come back next week for Part 2 when we get into her amazing Film Acting career.

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