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Nettie Wild

B: May 18, 1952 in New York, New York

Nettie Wild is one of Canada’s leading documentary filmmakers. Her highly charged and critically acclaimed films have brought her audiences behind the frontlines and headlines of revolutions and social change around the world. She has been honoured at film festivals around world and has won the Genie Award twice for Best Feature Documentary in Canada. Among other honours she has won Best Feature Documentary from the International Documentary Association as well as top honours from the Forum of New Cinema at the Berlin International Film Festival. Her 2016 film Koneline: our land beautiful had its World Premiere at the 2016 Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto and won the festival’s Best Canadian Feature Documentary Award. Nettie Wild is pictured in a still from an interview with Northernstars about Koneline.

Also see: A Passion for Social Justice: The Activist Films of Nettie Wild.
Also see: A Conversation with Nettie Wild.
Also see: Nettie Wild’s Roundup.

Features & TV Movies
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

A Rustling of Leaves: Inside the Philippine Revolution (1988)

Blockade (1993)
A Place Called Chiapas (1998)

FIX: The Story of an Addicted City (2002)

Deepa Mehta, in Profile (2012, short)
Uninterrupted (2012, short)
Koneline: our land beautiful (2016)
Uninterrupted (2017)

Roundup (2020, short)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
A Rustling of Leaves: Inside the Philippine Revolution (1988)

Blockade (1993)
A Place Called Chiapas (1998)

FIX: The Story of an Addicted City (2002)

Uninterrupted (2012, short)
Koneline: our land beautiful (2016)
Uninterrupted (2017)

Stephen Dunn

Stephen Dunn

B: January 18, 1989 in St.John's, Newfoundland

Stephen Dunn is an award-winning filmmaker and graduate of Norman Jewison’s Canadian Film Centre and Ryerson University’s Film Program. His short films have screened around the world and won awards at festivals such as the Tribeca, Toronto and Munich International Film Festivals. Most recently Dunn debuted three films at Sundance in a series called Pop=Up Porno. Closet Monster is his debut feature=length film.

Also see: New Fund Backs 7 Films.

Features & TV Movies
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Lionel Lonely Heart (2008, short)
The Hall (2009, short)
Words! Words! Words! (2009, short)

Swallowed (2010, short)
Life Doesn’t Frighten Me (2012, short)
Night Light (2012, short)
We Wanted More (2013, short)
Good Morning (co-director, 2014, short)
Pop-Up Porno: m4m (2015, short)
Pop-Up Porno: f4m (2015, short)
Pop-Up Porno: m4f (2015, short)
Closet Monster (2015)

I Never Follow The Rules (2021, documentary)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
Lionel Lonely Heart (2008, short)
The Hall (2009, short)
Words! Words! Words! (2009, short)

Swallowed (2010, short)
Life Doesn’t Frighten Me (2012, short)
Night Light (2012, short)
We Wanted More (2013, short)
Good Morning (co-director, 2014, short)
Pop-Up Porno: m4m (2015, short)
Pop-Up Porno: f4m (2015, short)
Pop-Up Porno: m4f (2015, short)
Closet Monster (2015)

Closet Monster, movie poster
Poster for Closet Monster courtesy of Elevation Pictures.

Private Eyes (2016-)

Private Eyes, TV series

Crime, Drama
Release date: May 26, 2016
Production Company: Entertainment One
Originating Network: Global TV

10 x 60 (2016 – Season 1)
9 x 60 (2017 – Season 2, Part 1)
9 x 60 (2018 – Season 2, Part 2
12 x 60 (2019 – Season 3)
12 x 60 (2020 – Season 4)

Created by Tim Kilby and Shelley Eriksen, Private Eyes follows ex-pro hockey player Matt Shade (Jason Priestley) who irrevocably changes his life when he teams up with fierce P.I. Angie Everett (Cindy Sampson) to form an unlikely investigative powerhouse. Matt Shade’s post-hockey career hasn’t exactly been a shining one. A stint in sports broadcasting led to lots of embarrassment and the kind of YouTube fame no one wants – and Shade sees working with Angie as an opportunity to redeem himself from his checkered past. And have a little fun, of course. On the ice, he learned how to hustle, read people and anticipate their moves. Working with Angie, Shade discovers a fantastic rush of adrenaline, and realizes that he’s found a new home where his skills still matter. Meanwhile, Angie took over her father’s P.I. agency after his death, and she strives to keep his legacy alive. Each case is an opportunity for her to flex her smarts, strength, and strategic thinking. She’s straightforward, clever, and knows her business inside out. Angie may find Shade naïve and well, annoying, but his passion and heart bring something special to her successful one-woman business.

Also see: Private Eyes Returns November 2 for Season 4.

No Poster Available


Emanuele ‘Manny’ Danelon


Kelly Makin
Robert Lieberman
Jerry Ciccoritti
James Genn
Charles Officer
Shawn Piller
Anne Wheeler


Tara Armstrong
Tassie Cameron
Shelley Eriksen
Marsha Greene
Tim Kilby
Alan McCullough
Marcus Robinson
Derek Schreyer


Eric Cayla


Paul Winestock


Shawn Pierce

Production Designer:

Tim Bider

Costume Designer:

Steven Wright


Jason Priestley
Cindy Sampson
Jordan Negri
Clé Bennett
Ennis Esmer
Barry Flatman
Clé Bennett
Ennis Esmer
Nicole de Boer
Jonny Gray
Bree Williamson
Mark Ghanimé
Samantha Wan
Sharnon Lewis
Kris Lemche
Ruth Goodwin
Linda Kash

Matt Shade
Angie Everett
Juliet “Jules” Shade
Detective Derek Nolan
Detective Kurtis Mazhari
Don Shade (Matt’s father)
Detective Derek Nolan (Seasons 1-2)
Detective Kurtis “Maz” Mazhari
Becca D’Orsay
Liam Benson
Crown Prosecutor Melanie Parker (Season 2)
Dr. Ken Graham (Season 2)
Zoe Chow (Season 2- )
Shona Clement
Eddy Conroy (Seasons 2-3)
Danica Powers (Season 3)
Inspector Carlson (Season 3-)

Stephan James

Stephan James, actor
Stephan James in a publicity still for #freerayshawn.

B: December 16, 1993 in Toronto, Ontario

Stephan James got his start in television landing a recurring role in the long-running series Degrassi. He landed his first major feature film role playing opposite Tatyana Ali and Fefe Dobson in the 2012 film Home Again. John Boyega had originally been tapped to play the lead role in the Jesse Owens biopic Race, but was offered Star Wars: Episode VII, opening the door for Stephan James to play Owens in the inspirational Olympic tale, for which he was given a Best Actor Canadian Screen Award in 2017. In 2019 he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in the category Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series-Drama for his work opposite Julia Roberts in the series Homecoming. Stephan James and fellow Canadian Taylor Kitsch (pictured above) costarred with J.K. Simmons, Chadwick Boseman and Sienna Miller in the 2019 film 21 Bridges. In 2020 he was nominated for an Emmy Award for his work on #freerayshawm.

Also see: Shamier Anderson
Also see: Stephan James & Marisa Tomei will costar in Delia’s Gone

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

My Babysitter’s a Vampire (TV-2010)
12 Dates of Christmas (TV-2011)
Home Again (2012)
The Railpath Hero (2013, short)
The Gabby Douglas Story (TV-2014)
Perfect Sisters (2014)
Apple Mortgage Cake (TV-2014)
The Dependables (2014)
When the Game Stands Tall (2014)
Selma (2014)
Lost After Dark (2015)
Across the Line (2015)
Race (2015)
Unveiled (TV-2016)
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
21 Bridges (2019)

Delia’s Gone (2021)

TV Series – Cast:
The Book of Negroes (2015, mini-series)
Shots Fired (2017)
Homecoming (2018-2020)
#Freerayshawn (2020)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
How to Be Indie (2010, 2011)
My Babysitter’s a Vampire (2011)
Clue (2011)
Degrassi: The Next Generation (2010, 2011, 2012)
The Listener (2012)
The L.A.Complex (2012)
Cracked (2013)

#freerayshawn, poster,

Andrew Cividino

Andrew Cividino

B: in Dundas, Ontario

Raised in Dundas, Ontario, Andrew Cividino holds a degree in film from Ryerson University’s School of Image Arts. His short, We Ate the Children Last, premiered at TIFF in 2011 and went on to screen at Clermont-Ferrand and TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten as well. He went on to direct Sarah Gadon in the short Yellow Fish, which screened at Telefilm’s Not Short on Talent showcase at Cannes in 2013. Most recently, he directed the
short film Sleeping Giant, on which the feature length version is based.

Features & TV Movies
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Norbert (2007, short)
Mud (VR-2009, short)

We Ate the Children Last (2011, short)
Yellow Fish (2012, short)
Anatomy of a Virus: The Making of Antiviral (documentary, 2013, short)
Sleeping GIant (2014, short)
Sleeping Giant (2015)

TV Series:
Schitt’s Creek (2018-2020)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
Norbert (2007, short)
Mud (VR-2009, short)

We Ate the Children Last (2011, short)
Yellow Fish (2012, short)
Anatomy of a Virus: The Making of Antiviral (documentary, 2013, short)
Sleeping GIant (2014, short)
Sleeping Giant (2015)

Credits as a Producer:
Fading Fast (2009, short)

Sleeping GIant (2014, short)
Sleeping Giant (2015)

Sleeping Giant, movie poster

Andrea Bang

Andrea Bang, actress,
Photo of Andrea Bang at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards © 2017 by Ralph Lucas. Used with permission,

B: in Vancouver, British Columbia

Born to Korean immigrant parents in Vancouver, Andrea Bang grew up in nearby Burnaby. From a young age, she explored many different interests: fashion, graphic design, writing, travelling, filmmaking – which eventually led to her revealing her secret passion for acting. She got her first taste of acting as a chorus member in her high school production of Bye Bye Birdie. Many interests and classes later, she made her on-stage debut with Sum Theatre’s Pull Festival and has appeared in several short films, including winning Best Actress at the Asians on Film Festival for Playdate.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Even the Devil Swiped Right (2013, short)
Playdate (2015, short)
Bon Bon Fire (2016, short)
Networking with James (2016, short)
Camp Death III: The Final Summer (2017)
The Prodigal Dad (2018)
Luce (2019)
Under the Supermoon (2019, short)
In Loving Memory (2019, short)
Celeste and Moulee Till the End of the World (2019, short)

Nocturne Falls (2020, short)
A Small Fortune (2021)

TV Series – Cast:
Sunnyhearts Community Centre (2016, mini-series)
Kim’s Convenience (2016-)
Running with Violet (2019-2020)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Convos with My 2-Year Old (2016)
Android Employed (2017)
Hudson & Rex (2020)

Shut In

Still from the movie Shut In courtesy of VVS Films.

91 minutes – Thriller
Language: English
Release date: November 11, 2016
Canadian Distributor: VVS Films

Naomi Watts plays Mary, a child psychologist who is trying to put her life back together after losing her husband in a car accident in this France-Canada-USA co-production. Her teenage son (Charlie Heaton) was in the same car accident and although he survived, he’s in a coma. Mary, who works out of her home, is given a new patient, Tom (Jacob Tremblay), a little boy grieving after his mother’s death. When she’s told Tom is being taken away to Boston, she doesn’t agree that the move is the best thing for the boy. He escapes from custody during a winter storm and is presumed dead by authorities, though a body has not been found.

Shut In, movie, poster,


Luc Besson
Claude Léger
Sylvain Proulx

Executive Producer:

Christine Haebler
David Linde
Tory Metzler
Jonathan Vanger
Ariel Zeitoun

Line Producer:

Olivier Glaas
Ginette Guillard


Farren Blackburn


Christina Hodson


Yves Bélanger




Nathaniel Méchaly

Production Designer:

Paul D. Austerberry

Art Director:

Jeremy Stanbridge
Carol Lavaliere (Set Decoration)

Costume Designer:

Odette Gadoury


Naomi Watts
Peter Outerbridge
Jacob Tremblay
Charlie Heaton
Oliver Platt
David Cubitt
Crystal Balint
Clémentine Poidatz
Tim Post
Ellen David
Alexandre Bacon

Mary Portman
Richard Portman
Tom Patterson
Steven Portman
Dr. Wilson
Doug Hart
Grace Mitchell

Sofia Banzhaf

Sofia Banzhaf

B: in Newfoundland

Sofia Banzhaf is a Toronto-based filmmaker, writer and actor. She has appeared in several short films, feature films, and television, including the award-winning Silent Retreat and CBC`s Republic of Doyle. Her fiction has been published in NU magazine, Metatron, and she has a forthcoming novella released by Anstruther Press. In addition to appearing in the short Diamond Day, Benzhaf also served as writer, producer and director.

Features & TV Movies
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Silent Retreat (2013)
Belle and Sebastian: The Party Line (VR-2014, short)
Diamond Day (2015, short)
Star Princess (2015, short)
Closet Monster (2015)
4 Quarters (2015, short)
Fighting for Lucy (2016, short)
Splinters (2018)

Stage Mother (2020)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Montréal Hearts (2010)
Republic of Doyle (2014)

Splinter, movie, poster,

Kate Findlay

Kate Findlay, actress,

B: August 28, 1990 in Windsor, Ontario

Born in Windsor, Ontario, Kate Findlay moved to Vancouver with her family and graduated from Eric Hamber Secondary school. She was first attracted to dance and was a ballerina for 12 years before a back injury caused her to look at other options. She first worked in television in a few guest appearance roles in series pilots and that led to roles in episodes of such popular programs as Fringe and Psych. Her break came when she was cast to play Rosie Larsen in the first year of the series The Killing. She has had a handful of film roles but has really made her mark on the small screen first as Maggie Landers in 22 episodes of The Carrie Diaries and then as Rebecca Sutter in 15 episodes of the first season of How To Get Away With Murder.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Tangled (TV-2010)
Crash Site (2011)
An Instrument of Justice (2012, short)
After The Dark (2013)
Premature (2014)
Jem and the Holograms (2015)
The Dark Stranger (2015)
The Bridge (TV-2015)
The Bridge Part 2 (TV-2016)
Straight Up (2019)
Search and Destroy (TV-2019)
Heart of Life (2019)

TV Series – Cast:
The Killing (2011-2012)
How To Get Away with Murder (2014-2015)
Man Seeking Woman (2017)
Lost Generation (2017)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Fringe (2010)
Psych (2010)
Endgame (2011)
SGU Stargate Universe (2011)
Continuum (2012)
The Magicians (2016)
The Twilight Zone (2019)
Nancy Drew (2019, 2020)

Hannah Gross

Hannah Gross, actress, actor,
Hannah Gross in Unless. Photo courtesy of Mongrel Media.

B: in Toronto, Ontario

Hannah Gross graduated with a BFA from NYU’s Experimental Theatre Wing in 2012. Since then she has appeared in Matt Porterfield’s I Used to be Darker, Dustin Guy Defa’s short film Lydia Hoffman, Lydia Hoffman, as well as the episode Defa directed for The Sixth Year (produced by the Goethe Institute), Uncertain Terms (dir. by Nathan Silver) and Charles Poekel’s Christmas, Again which premiered at the 2014 Locarno International Film Festival. Daughter of Paul Gross and Martha Burns, her theatre credits include Doc (directed by Diana LeBlanc for Soulpepper Theatre Company), She’s Gone Serious (directed by Alexandra Siladi and performed at the Collapsible Hole in New York City) and Passing Through: Room 603 (directed by Alexandra Siladi and performed at Access Theatre in New York City), Morning to Morning or The Belly of the Whale (performed in the New York International Fringe Festival) as well as assistant directing Kate Whoriskey’s production of Antigone for NYU. The 2020 feature, Falling, marks the directorial debut of actor Viggo Mortensen.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Men With Brooms (2002)
Wilby Wonderful (2004)
Drei Mädchen (2005, short)

I Used to Be Darker (2013)
The Sixth Year (2013)
Uncertain Times (2014)
Christmas, Again (2014)
Haze (2014, short)
Valedictorian (2015)
Stinking Heaven (2015)
Beach Week (2015, short)
Take What You Can Carry (2015, short)
Little Cabbbage (2015, short)
Unless (2016)
Marjorie Prime (2017)
The Mountain (2018)
Her Smell (2018)
Fat Tuesday (2018)
Colewell (2019)
Clifton Hill (2019)
The Education of Fredrick Fitzell (2019)
Falling (2020)

TV Series – Cast:
Mindhunter (2017)
The Sinner (2018)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Deadwax (2018)

Falling, movie, poster,

Jordan Canning

Jordan Canning, director,

B: August 3, 1982 in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

Jordan Canning is a Canadian film director and writer. She has directed over a dozen short films which have screened at festivals all over the world including the Toronto International Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival and Interfilm Berlin. Canning’s films have won a number of awards, including two Golden Sheaf Awards, three awards at the NSI Online Short Film Festival, and top prize at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival RBC Emerging Filmmaker Competition. Canning directed all twenty-three episodes of the IPF-supported web series Space Riders: Division Earth for CTV. The show won the 2014 Canadian Screen Award for Best Digital Series and four Canadian Comedy Awards, including Best Director. Canning’s first feature film We Were Wolves screened at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. In 2015, Canning was awarded the Women In the Director’s Chair Feature Film Award for her second feature film, Suck It Up (2017), which premiered at the 2017 Slamdance Film Festival. In 2016, Canning made her foray into television, directing on Saving Hope and This Hour Has 22 Minutes, where she became the first female director on the show as well as many others including the highly lauded Schitt’s Creek. Her 2020 NFB animated short 4 North A, was selected to have its World Premiere at TIFF.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Pillowtalk (2015, short)
Thick & Thin (2006, short)
Here On In (2007, short)
Bedroom (2008, short)
Kitchen (2008, short)
Countdown (2009, short)

Not Over Easy (2010, short)
Oliver Bump’s Birthday (2011, short)
Seconds (2012, short)
The Tunnel (The Big Dirty Ol’ Hole, 2013, short)
We Were Wolves (2014)
Suck It Up (2016)
Ordinary Days (2017)

4 North A (2020, animation, short)

TV Series:
Saving Hope (2017, 1 episode)
This Hour Has 22 Minutes (206, 2017, 5 episodes)
Burden of Truth (2018, 2 episodes)
The Detail (2018, 2 episodes)
Baroness Von Sketch Show (2018-2019, 20 episodes)
Little Dog (2019, 2 episodes)
Schitt’s Creek (2019-2020, 12 episodes)

Family Law (2020)

Digital Series:
Space Riders: Division Earth (2013-2014, 23 episodes)

Ordinary Days, poster,

Deragh Campbell

B: 1989 in Toronto, Ontario

Deragh Campbell made her big-screen debut in 2013 in Matthew Potterfield’s film I Used to Be Darker, which was one of The New Yorker’s Top 25 films of the year. More of a writer than an actor, Campbell studied creative writing at Montreal’s Concordia University. She was named one of the 4 Rising Stars by the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015. The sci-fi feature Project Ithaca, directed by award-winning Canadian Nicholas Humphries, was presented for the first time at Cannes in May 2018. Her film, Anne at 13,000 ft was selected to have its World Premiere at TIFF 2019.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

I Used to Be Darker (2013)
Person to Person (2014, short)
Stinking Heaven (2015)
Beach Week (2015, short)
How Heavy This Hammer (2015)
O, Brazen Age (2015)
The Other Half (2016)
Never Eat Alone (2016)
The Intestine (2016)
Mobile Homes (2017)
It’s Hard to Be Human (2018)
Project Ithaca (2018)
Anne at 13,000 ft (2019)

Possessor (2020)
Succor (2020, short)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
Stinking Heaven (2015)

Project Ithaca, movie, poster,

Possessor, movie, poster,

Marianne Verville

Marianne Verville, actrice, actress,

B: May 28, 1994 in Saint-Lambert, Québec

Marianne Verville is known for playing Aurélie Laflamme in two movies based on the novels of India Desjardins.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Le journal d’Aurélie Laflamme (2010)
22h20, Heure de l’Est (2013, short)
Aurélie Laflamme: Les pieds sur terre (2015)
Lenni-Kim: Pourquoi tout perdre (VR-2015, short)

TV Series – Cast:
Mauvais Karma (2010-2012)
Tactik (2012-2013)
Le berceau des anges (2015, mini-series)
Oh My Lord! (2018, mini-series)
Cerebrum (2019)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Au secours de Béatrice (2014)
District 31 (2017)

Aurélie Laflamme: Les pieds sur terre, poster

Jim Chad

Jim Chad, actor,

B: May 29, 1958 in Toronto, Ontario

Jim Chad is also a stage actor. His training included attending the Second City Workshops, TheatreSports with Keith Johnstone and Scene Study with Marie Mumford and David Switzer. A few of his theatre credits include Arsenic and Old Lace at Toronto’s Alumnae Theatre, Our Town at the Glenn Morris Theatre, Doctor Faustus at the George Ignatieff Theatre, Man Equals Man at the Hart House Theatre and Lost in Yonkers at the Village Playhouse. The movie If You Could See What I Hear was directed by Eric Till.

Official website.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

The Kidnapping of the President (1980)
If You Could See What I Hear (1982)
Shocktrauma (TV-1982)
Will There Really Be a Morning? (TV-1983)
Special People (TV-1984)
The Kidnapping of Baby John Doe (TV-1987)

Leona Helmsley: The Queen of Mean (TV-1990)
End of Paradise (2008, short)
Flash of Genius (2008)
Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning (TV-2008)

Parkdale (2011, short)
A Deadly View (2018)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Bizarre (1982)
SCTV Network 90 (1982)
Loving Friends and Perfect Couples (1983)
SCTV Channel (1984)
Night Heat (1986)

The Dini Petty Show (1994)

Mayday (2008)
Murdoch Mysteries (2009)

Man Seeking Woman (2015)
What We Do in the Shadows (2019)

Jim Chad is represented by:
Premier Artist Management
309 Cherry St.
Toronto, Ontario
M5A 3L3

Phone: 1-416-461-6868
Fax: 1-416-457-9532
Email: sgillis.premierartists(at)outlook.com

Agents: Sandra Gillis, Rod Maxwell, Sean Kaufmann

Liz Marshall

Liz Marshall
Photo of Liz Marshall © by Ralph Lucas. Used with permission.

B: 1969 in Toronto, Ontario

Beginning in the 1990s Liz Marshall has created broadcast, theatrical, grassroots and cross-platform documentaries that she shot around the world, which focus on a range of subjects including: animal rights; the right to water movement; HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa; sweatshop labour; corporate-globalization; gender; censorship affecting writers and journalists, and war-affected children. Marshall is well versed in the craft of conceptual point-of-view storytelling as a means of exploring complex world issues. Her 2014 short, Weight of Memory captured a performance by Dancer/Choreographer Peggy Baker in memory of the fourteen women slain on December 6, 1989 at Montreal’s École Polytechnique. Her 2019 film Meat the Future, which is not a typo, was selected to screen at the 2020 Hot Docs Film Festival and when the festival was postponed it was one of the films to be programmed on Hot Docs at Home on CBC.

Also see: Liz Marshall’s Meat The Future.

Features & TV Movies
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Musicians in the WarZone (2001)
Inside Your Threads (2004)
Girls of Latitude (TV-2008)

Water on the Table (2010)
The Ghosts in Our Machines (2013)
Weight of Memory (2014, short)
Meat the Future (2019)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
Water on the Table (2010)
The Ghosts in Our Machines (2013)
Meat the Future (2019)

Credits as a Producer:
Water on the Table (2010)
The Ghosts in Our Machines (2013)

Meat The Future, image,

René Jodoin: Philosopher Fonctionnaire

René Jodoin: Philosopher Fonctionnaire
By Chris Robinson

You could win a trivia contest by asking the question: Who made films in the 1940s with Norman McLaren, started the National Film Board’s French animation studio and shepherded the development of computer animation in this country? René Jodoin, the artist who accomplished these and many other things, is a figure who clearly deserves rescuing from the anonymity of abandoned NFB catalogues and newsletters. Like Colin Low, Wolf Koenig and Tom Daly, Jodoin allowed his natural humility and love of the early ideals of the Film Board to obscure his genuine contributions to Canadian film. And like many of his filmmaking colleagues, Jodoin deliberately downplayed his own reputation in order to work better as a fonctionnaire, a civil servant, who could produce artistic films for educational purposes.

Jodoin’s willingness to experiment, inherited from his days working with McLaren, revolutionized the NFB in the 1960s and solidified its reputation as the leading producer of intelligent, challenging and diverse animation films. During those years, he discovered or nurtured such talents as Pierre Hébert, Co Hoedeman, Jacques Drouin and Paul Driessen. Fighting the good fight for sexual equality, Jodoin gave directorial jobs to many female animators including Caroline Leaf, Suzanne Gervais and Francine Desbiens. Jodoin also brought computer systems into the Film Board, allowing Peter Foldès to start the process that has changed animation in the past two decades. And, through it all, Jodoin remained an animation director who always enjoyed creating his own abstract and complex films.

Jodoin’s initial work involved the designing of titles, maps, diagrams for a variety of documentary and war films. For awhile Jodoin was in charge of the title department, but was soon pulled away to produce a series of folk songs called Let’s Sing Together. Jodoin’s contributions to Let’s Sing Together included Home on the Range (which features a slow pan across a prairie landscape), Square Dance (featuring very simple figures dancing) and Alouette, which was codirected with Norman McLaren. This cut–out film consists of two parts. In the chorus, a bird “bounces” back and forth to the music. During the verses, the text of the song appears in various corners of the frame. “I always thought that part of the game was to use the text in an interesting way,” notes Jodoin. By highlighting the text, the films actually encouraged active participation from the audience. On the whole, Alouette is awkward and primitive, however the experimental choreography of the lyrics remains quite striking and provides a momentary hint of Jodoin’s later more accomplished work.

Following the war, all or most of the people Jodoin admired and learned from were gone. John Grierson was in the U.S., McLaren was in China and after failing to get a scholarship to attend a film school in France, Jodoin and Grant Munro decided to travel to Mexico. Jodoin and Munro had met a man named Castro Leal who was setting up a Mexican film board in the NFB’s mould and he invited the two to Mexico to help them get things started. However, when it came time to work at the Mexican film board, largely occupied by business types who were not totally convinced of the NFB’s artistic ways, things didn’t quite pan out. So after turning down a job to do live–action editing, Jodoin and Munro spent another year travelling around Mexico painting before Jodoin returned to Ottawa.

While Jodoin did not officially return to the Board, he did begin making a film with McLaren. “Norman and I met and discussed ideas many times,” says Jodoin. “We came up with the simple but attractive idea. If the two of us where doing motion, what would be the natural next move? It was a bit like a mime and then we applied this to the structure. We were shooting under very primitive conditions. It was an old building, even the old title stand was shaking. We found it rather boring. The song was to be done directly on the film. We worked on that for a while, but decided to leave it.” Some years later McLaren finished the film, which was called Spheres, to the accompaniment of Glenn Gould.

After Spheres, Jodoin moved to Toronto where he freelanced for various production houses (Audio Pictures and for a time even worked out of Graphic Visuals, owned by former NFB colleagues George Dunning and Jim McKay) before finding a permanent job as the art director for Current Publications, a publishing firm that put out medicine and health journals. In 1954, as fate would have it, Jodoin, bored by his work at Current Publications, accepted an invitation to return to the NFB, this time as a director in the NFB sponsored–film division. Jodoin’s first works were a series of training films for the Royal Canadian Air Force. Taken as a whole these films, with such lively titles as Introduction to Jet Engines and Antenna Fundamentals, are quite dull. Nevertheless, there are some striking scenes that seem more tailored to an abstract film than an industrial film. In Jet Engines, for example, a scene demonstrating the interaction between gases and blades resembles a bizarre Busby Berkely sequence as interpreted by Oskar Fischinger. In Antenna Fundamentals, radiation wave patterns are demonstrated through a dance of blue and red circles which expand and interact. In both films, the use of colour, shape and movement is quite extraordinary and at once lays the groundwork for Jodoin’s more detailed explorations of geometrical figures in his personal films.

In 1961, Jodoin finally had the chance to make his own film. “I wanted to make a film about something that didn’t have pictures. I jumped onto it. I needed sound and square dance music was ideal. I asked Maurice Blackburn if he would find me something. He found some old square dance music that was recorded at a party in Ottawa with all sorts of noise. He cut all of that out and restructured it for the film. I had to do this in a basement with a kind of Rube Goldberg arrangement. I couldn’t move the camera for any changes. I had to cut huge copies of the square. It was in the same room where Universe was being shot.” The result was Dance Squared, a intriguing, albeit primitive, film that explores the geometrical possibilities of a square. The film is at times too slow and deliberate. Nevertheless, Dance Square is unique in its attempt to integrate the pedagogical into an abstract field of expression.

Notes on a Triangle is considered by many to be Jodoin’s masterpiece. An extension of Dance Squared, Notes on a Triangle examines the geometrical possibilities of a triangle. A single triangle splits and rotates into a variety of different shapes and colours. As with Dance Squared, the music plays a pivotal role in extending Jodoin’s work beyond the pedagogical. The waltz–inspired fiddle music of Maurice Blackburn adds a lightness to the film that lures the viewer far from the very precise and logical constructs and into a world of seemingly random bursts of colour and shapes. It is this ability to displace delicate morsels of complexity under the guise of visual and aural candy that makes Jodoin’s work so magnificent.

One of the lauded moments of Notes on a Triangle is a brief zoom that occurs midway through the film. During this zoom, the shapes continue to expand and move about. “With computers today that would be trivial,” notes animator Pierre Hébert, “but doing this with cut outs on an old camera is really an accomplishment.” Says Jodoin, “There was a notion of something going on forever. There were maybe to zooms, but you are conscious of one. The whole thing was designed exponentially so that you compensate for that fact that you are approaching a flat thing. You are actually moving in space.”

After the Film Board moved to Montreal in 1956 and set up a French production division, there was pressure to establish a French animation unit. “A few years after the move to Montreal,” says Jodoin, “there was an influx of young people who wanted to do animation.I wasn’t particularly keen on it, but you had to put yourself in the position of all these younger people and that’s how we all got together and proposed the idea. The whole of French production were enthusiastic about it, so when I presented it to the director of production he said, “Yes, on one condition, that you do it.” So in 1965, Jodoin became the director of the French animation unit.

“It was primitive to begin with. There was very little money and no locale. Everyone (many of the new animators were already working at the Board in other departments) stayed where they were, and we rented a bus for people to work out of.” In getting both respect and money, Jodoin turned to his very roots as an NFB animator and proposed the series, Contemporary Songs of French–Canada. The roots of the idea evolved out of McLaren’s initial Let’s Sing Together series, and it was a brilliant stroke. At once, the series enabled Jodoin to get more money for the department and, like Let’s Sing Together, provided an ideal training exercise for a number of young animators. “[The series] made it easier to get to the next step, which was getting a room to work in.” “He knew,” says Pierre Hébert, “that he had to prove something and knew he had to make something. He delivered the films with a limited budget and it allowed the studio to save money.”

There is no denying Norman McLaren’s immense role in establishing the Film Board’s international reputation, however it is foolish to underestimate the impact of Jodoin. While the English studio languished in producing narrative–driven cel animation, the French studio, in part because of a low budget, explored diverse avenues of expression. Under Jodoin’s lead, the French unit attracted the likes of Co Hoedeman, Ishu Patel, Paul Driessen, Caroline Leaf, Pierre Hébert, Francine Desbiens, Andre Leduc and Jacques Drouin. The result was some of the most strikingly original films that the Board had ever produced. In achieving this, Jodoin consciously avoided hiring experienced animators. Instead, he encouraged young talent who were not yet formed as artists, let alone as animators. It was Jodoin’s goal to train them on the job.

Even more remarkable was Jodoin’s openness to women artists. It is a well–known fact that animation, especially cel animation, has traditionally been a male dominated medium. It is a little known fact that Francine Desbiens was the first French–Canadian woman to direct an animation film. “At one time,” says Desbiens, “there were more women than men. After Jodoin left the department, there was 10 years where not one woman was employed as a freelancer or as a permanent. He was way out in front of everybody.” Jodoin’s liberal attitudes also extended to an interest in developing computer animation as an artistic tool for animators. “The National Research Council came around to visit and discuss their problems and that they were working on a project with CBC and Radio–Canada,” says Jodoin. “I wasn’t to impressed with all that, but finally they asked the Film Board to cooperate. We went down to see what they were doing and we realized that we could animate line drawing.” Unfortunately, the Film Board was never really in a position to follow through on their early computer exploration. “Things changed,” notes Hébert, “because the NFB couldn’t afford to keep up and the people doing the same in the U.S. were better funded.” Indeed, Jodoin was not in total agreement with the NFB’s aim to be at the forefront of computer animation development. “René favoured lighter equipment that would be put in the hands of the animators,” notes Hébert. “This is what he had in mind and of course, this is way it is today. René was seeing things differently.”

In 1979, Jodoin resigned from his position to work on his own films. “When René left,” notes animator Paul Driessen. “I think it was a heavy blow to the department. After that the people in charge of the department where much more commercial and didn’t really stand for anything.” Between 1979 and his retirement from the board in 1985, Jodoin completed two films, A Matter of Form (1984) and Rectangle and Rectangles (1985). A Matter of Form is an intriguing and clever film, but is really just a variation on ideas previously explored. Three dots interact to form a line which expands from different points to create various shapes and colours. Echoing the thoughts of Heraclitus, Matter of Form presents a world in a constant state of change. More interesting is Rectangle and Rectangles, an almost violent film that assaults the viewer with an onslaught of colours, shapes and an incessant, disturbing flickering (the video comes with a warning that it may trigger epileptic seizures!). “The aim was to show time. I tried to make a film with the absence of almost everything so that you could see time move and visually you can become interested through the play of colour and motion.” It is a film that leaves one with impressions, not absolutes. There are traces of movement and colour, but nothing definitive.

Remarkably Jodoin, now approaching 80 years of age, remains hard at work in his basement on a computer film he has tentatively titled Traces. The goal of the film, scheduled to be released in late 1999, is to try to evoke people’s experience of music. It’s like traces of things past and present. “I find it extraordinary,” says Hébert, who is currently producing a video series to celebrate Jodoin’s work, “that this man of 79 is still looking for things he had in mind in the 1940s. There is a strong sense of necessity in him that has a lot of continuity in what he did. I would like to be like that.” It was Heraclitus who believed that the universe is in a constant state of change and that “the beginning and end are the same,” but like the words of all great philosophers, they are little more than abstract musings. Jodoin has applied these words both artistically and institutionally throughout his life.

Oddly enough, Jodoin’s determined exploration of the infinite is deeply rooted in a traditional belief (inherited from McLaren and ultimately Grierson) in the active function of the civil servant. In age where we view the institutional as “dead weight,” the work of René Jodoin, a man of the institution, suggests that perhaps we, not our institutions, have become stagnant and unchanging.

Also see: René Jodoin’s filmography.

Northernstars logo imageThis article originally appeared in the summer of 1999, Issue 24 of Take One magazine. Northernstars.ca acquired the digital archives of Take One in 2007.

Nitro Rush

Nitro Rush, image,
(center>Image from Nitro Rush courtesy of Les Films Séville.

96 minutes – Action/Adventure
Language: French
Release date: August 31, 2016 (Québec)
DVD release date: December 13, 2016
Distributor: Les Films Séville

Eight years ago, Max made a mistake in his life and is in prison for manslaughter. He learns from the authorities that his son, Theo, now 17, is working as a hacker for a criminal drug organization headed by his old enemy, l’Avocat. Desperate to save his son from the bad guys, when l’Avocat ends up behind bars in the same prison, Max seizes the opportunity to settle things and in the aftermath, Max stages a spectacular prison break and goes to find Theo. But Theo, who has fallen under the spell of Daphne, an alluring femme fatale, still holds his father responsible for the death of his mother and rejects Max. Quickly understanding he’ll be unable to persuade his son to walk away from it all, Max joins the illegal drug operation in order to watch over his son. His car chasing skills, acrobatics and strength prove invaluable assets in the eventual capture of this gang by the police.

Also see: Nitro.

Nitro Rush, poster, movie,


Antonello Cozzolino

Executive Producer:

Marleen Beaulieu
Louise Lantagne
Richard Speer

Line Producer:

Sylvie Trudelle


Alain Desrochers


Martin Girard


Tobie Marier Robitaille


Éric Drouin


FM Le Sieur


Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge
Raymond Bouchard
Antoine Desrochers
Michel Charette
Madeleine Péloquin
Myriam Tallard
Antoine-Olivier Pilon
Andreas Apergis
Alexandre Goyette
Jean-Nicolas Verreault
Sébastien Peres
Nathalie Cavezzali
Micheline Lanctôt
Junior Boucher
Brigitte Tremblay
Luc Proulx
Naomi Frenette
Léa Girard-Nadeau

Chemist Hugo
Chemist Racine
Women in Black
The mechanic
Young women
Suicide Girl

Johnny Ma

Johnny Man, director,
Director Johnny Ma in a screen capture from a short 2016 TIFF video.

B: in Shanghai, China

Born as Nan Ma in Shanghai, China, Johnny Ma immigrated to Toronto when he was 10-years-old. After careers in mergers and acquisitions in the business and fashion world, he first made the move to documentary filmmaking in 2008. Graduating from Columbia University’s M.F.A. program in Directing/Screenwriting, his short films have screened at TIFF, Dallas International Film Festival, Aspen Shortfest and other international festivals. Ma has won the Canadian Academy of Cinema & Television’s Best First Feature award, sponsored by Telefilm Canada, for his feature film, Old Stone. He is developing his second feature-length project, also set in China.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

The Robbery (2010, short)
Play (2011, short)
O Genio de Quintino (2011, short)
Dec 32 (2012, short)
A Grand Canal (2014, short)
Old Stone (2016)
To Live To Sing (aka Huo zhe chang zhe, 2019)

Credits as a Screenwriter:
The Robbery (2010, short)
Play (2011, short)
O Genio de Quintino (2011, short)
A Grand Canal (2014, short)
Old Stone (2016)
To Live To Sing (aka Huo zhe chang zhe, 2019)

Old Stone, Johnny Ma, film, movie,

Benjamin Ayres

Benjamin Ayres, actor,

B: January 19, 1977 in Kamloops, British Columbia

After two seasons as a series regular on the CTV hit series Dan For Mayor, Benjamin Ayres landed the role of Dr. Zachary Miller (pictured) in the highly acclaimed CTV/NBC original series Saving Hope. During his early twenties, he studied at The Lyric School of Acting under the direct mentorship of studio head Michele Lonsdale Smith. He later collaborated with her as a performer in a wide range of theatrical productions; including multiple mountings of Eric Bogosian’s one man play Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll, Judith Thompson’s Lion in the Streets and August Strindberg’s Miss Julie. Possibly still best known for his role as Cancer Cowboy, the chain-smoking sex addict with a morbid death obsession, in the critically acclaimed cult hit CBC series jPod, based on the Douglas Coupland novel of the same name, the role brought a Leo nomination in 2008.

Official website.

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Love By Chance (TV-2016)
A Sunday Kind of Love (2016)
Unless (2016)
Site Unseen: An Emma Fielding Mystery (TV-2017)
Birdland (2017)
Yellow (TV-2017)
Lie Exposed (2019)
Canadian Strain (2019)

TV Series – Cast:
jPod (2008)
Impact (2008, mini-series)
Diamonds (2008, mini-series)
Dan for Mayor (2009-2011)

Saving Hope (2012-2017)
Burden of Truth (2018-)

TV Series – Guest appearances:
Psych (2008)
Mistresses (2009)
The Vampire Diaries (2009)
Less Than Kind (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)

Combat Hospital (2011)
Flashpoint (2011)
Bitten (2014)

Benjamin Ayres is represented by:
Rich Caplan
Noble Caplan Abrams
1260 Yonge Street, 2nd Floor
Toronto, ON. M4T 1W6
Tel: 416.920.5385
Fax: 416.920.6343
Email: rcaplan(at)canadafilm.com

Lie Exposed, Leslie Hope, movie, poster,

Canadian Strain, movie, poster,

Celebrating Black History Month – Tré Armstrong

Tré Armstrong, actress,

(February 29, 2020 – Toronto, ON) Tracey ‘Tré’ Armstrong, a dancer, choreographer and actress, was born in Toronto and raised in Mississauga, Ontario. From the age of five she studied ballet, tap and jazz dance, and later fell in love with Latin, hip hop and urban forms of dance. She was featured in the 2005 NFB documentary Breakin’ In: The Making of a Hip Hop Dancer written and directed by Elizabeth St. Philip, which highlighted Armstrong as one of Canada’s top rising stars. Her breakoutmoment occurred after seeking out Missy Elliot. The hip-hop queen gave her a place on an international tour, and since then Armstrong has travelled the world sharing her experience through workshops, seminars and classes in hip hop, urban and freestyle dance.

Read more about actress, dancer and choreographer, Tré Armstrong.