DOC Institute Honours Two
by Staff Editors
(November 20, 2023 – Toronto) Industry veteran Janice Dawe and acclaimed filmmaker Noura Kevorkian will be recognized with the top documentary achievement awards at the 10thth Annual DOC Institute’s Honours Awards, to be presented the evening of Tuesday, December 5 at The Great Hall in Toronto. The DOC Institute’s Honours Awards celebrates pioneers and visionaries in Canadian documentary filmmaking.
The announcement was made by Lauren Howes, Managing Director of the Doc Institute. “On this special occasion, the 10th Anniversary of the Honours Awards, we’re delighted to recognize two truly outstanding individuals and welcome them into the esteemed company of our other remarkable winners over the past decade,” adding “This is an exceptional banner year for us, as all the decades have aligned. The Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC) is celebrating its 40th anniversary, Hot Docs FilmFestival its 30th, our Breakthrough Mentorship Program marks 20 years and, of course, Doc Honours celebrates its 10th”.
A jury of their peers unanimously voted to recognize Janice Dawe for the Rogers-DOC Luminary Award and Noura Kevorkian for the DOC Vanguard Award. This year’s jury members were Anita Lee, 2022 Luminary recipient, Sylvia Hamilton, 2021 Luminary Recipient, and Tamara Dawit, 2021 Vanguard recipient.
Pictured above on the left, Janice Dawe is this year’s winner of the Luminary Award. She is a founding partner and President of Bizable Media, a Toronto-based consulting firm providing production financing and business affairs services to the film and television community. Over her career, Janice has worked with dozens of documentary filmmakers and has enjoyed the public discourse, audience emotion and industry accolades their films have received. Maya Gallus’s On the Side of the Angels, Tasha Hubbard’s nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up, Michele Hozer’s Sugar Coated and Chelsea McMullan & Sean O’Neill’s Swan Song are just some of the documentaries Janice is extremely proud to have contributed to in a producing capacity. Before forming Bizable Media, Dawe was Vice-President and Executive Producer for eight years at White Pine Pictures, where she oversaw business development and production of the company’s slate of award-winning documentaries and drama series.
Along with Anne Pick and Susan Fleming, Janice Dawe created and produced a doc-adjacent series Harrowsmith Country Life that ran for four happy seasons and developed a devoted following on the Discovery Channel. Well known to DOC and many of its members, she served as co-chair of the Canadian Independent Film Caucus alongside Paul Jay as the organization transformed into the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC) and launched the first edition of the Hot Docs festival. She has been an active mentor throughout her career and over the past 3 years she has led the business of producing workshops for OYA Black Arts Coalition’s “Scale Up” initiative.
“I am moved and honoured to be recognized by my colleagues with this meaningful award,” said Dawe. “Supporting doc filmmakers in their incredibly hard work has been an immensely gratifying part of my career.”
The jury remarked that,”Throughout her career, Janice Dawe has been an invaluable,
principled, and trusted partner for documentary filmmakers, and someone whose
unwavering dedication has enabled numerous creators to bring their projects to fruition.”
The Rogers-DOC Luminary Award is presented to an individual whose leadership and creative spirit has made a significant contribution to the genre and benefitted the Canadian documentary community. The award is supported by the Rogers Group of Funds. Previous honourees are Anita Lee (2022), Sylvia D. Hamilton, Anne Pick, Zoe Dirse, Alanis Obomsawin, Chris McDonald, Daniel Cross, Elizabeth Klinck, and Marc Glassman.
Noura Kevorkian, pictured on the right above, is this year’s winner of the Vanguard Award. A true Renaissance woman, Kevorkian possesses a multifaceted artistic vision that spans across languages and cultures, blending her Lebanese, Syrian, and Armenian roots. Her extensive creative journey includes roles as a writer, director, producer, editor, and even composer for her films. With profound lived experience, Kevorkian’s projects offer a unique perspective that captivates, provokes thought, and fosters empathy for marginalized communities. Born in Aleppo, Syria, and raised in Lebanon before making her way to Canada at age 17 to complete her high school education, she then attended university and ended up staying in Canada, and now lives in Toronto.
She made her filmmaking debut with the award-winning 2002 documentary Veils Uncovered, about the veiled women of Damascus. It won prizes at the ReelWorld, Yorkton, and New York International Film and Video festivals and was in Official Competition at the IDFA. Her debut feature, the Canada-Lebanon historical documentary Anjar: Flowers, Goats & Heroes, showcased at the MED Festival in Rome, is a complex and emotional POV documentary about a young girl growing up during the Lebanese Civil War and discovering that the elders of her village are genocide survivors from a previous war. Her follow-up film, the Canada-Lebanon drama-doc hybrid feature 23 Kilometres, premiered to acclaim in Official Competition at Karlovy Vary, followed by screenings at the Dubai and Munich festivals. This one-of-a-kind experiential film is a cinematic portrayal of one man’s experiences with Parkinson’s disease.
Noura’s latest film, the Canada-Lebanon co-production Batata, is an unprecedented documentary that follows 10 years in the life of a singularly determined, unmarried Syrian woman as she turns from migrant farmhand to refugee, stuck in a camp in Lebanon and unable to return to her hometown of Raqqa. It won a Peabody Award, was named both Best Feature Documentary and Best Human Rights film at the Carthage Festival, won the Amnesty Award at Durban, was one of the Audience Top Ten at Hot Docs, and was an Official Entry in the 2024 Academy Awards.
“I am thrilled and honoured to receive the 2023 DOC Institute’s Vanguard Award,” said Kevorkian. “This year marks DOC’s 40th anniversary and my 22nd year in documentary filmmaking. The challenging journey of a documentarian, exemplified by my recent film Batata, that captures 10 years in the life of a Syrian refugee woman, underscores that documentary filmmaking demands resilience, skill, and humanity to tell stories that matter. I am grateful for this recognition and aspire to support fellow filmmakers’ journeys. I’m proud to belong to the DOC community and very grateful for this acknowledgement and vote of confidence.”
“Noura Kevorkian is an exciting documentary maker to watch”, noted the jury. “She is on
a path to create work that can stand with the best documentaries being produced in
Canada. This makes her an ideal recipient of the Vanguard Award.”
The Vanguard Award is presented to an emerging or mid-career professional whose keen artistic sensibility and visionary approach has made them a talent to watch. Previous recipients are Nisha Pahuja (2022), Tamara Mariam Dawit, Chelsea McMullan, Millifiore Clarkes, Lisa Jackson, Amar Wala, Victoria Lean, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, and Brett Story.
The DOC Institute Honours is a juried event, selected from nominations submitted by the membership of the Documentary Organization of Canada, an association of more than 1,000 members, representing six chapters from coast to coast to coast and from across the documentary film sector. The annual event is supported by presenting sponsor, CBC, and award sponsors Rogers Group of Funds and Urban Post Production.
The 10thth Annual DOC Institute’s Honours Awards, to be presented the evening of Tuesday, December 5 at The Great Hall in Toronto. Located at 1087 Queen Street West (at Dovercourt Road) in Toronto, tickets for the Gala Honours Awards should be reserved.