Film Festival News and More
by Staff Editors
(May 3, 2023 – Toronto, ON) While the Hot Docs Canadian and International Documentary Film Festival has dominated our news these last few days, there is other news from the Canadian film and television universe. In no particular order, here are some of the things that got our attention, including Hot Docs.
On Monday of this week, the Hot Docs Board of Directors announced a new president. Marie Nelson will assume “responsibility for the strategic leadership and management of the annual Hot Docs festival, conference and market, the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema and the organization’s year-round industry and public facing initiatives and activities.” The appointment begins June 1. Nelson is a media veteran with decades of experience in independent documentary film, news, and broadcasting. She has held senior positions at American networks, including most recently as Senior Vice President at ABC News/Disney where she led a brand and content strategy that pioneered and developed inclusive and diverse-led content for television, streaming and film audiences.
“For me, having the chance to link arms with Hot Docs was an unequivocal swipe right. From my first trip to Toronto for the festival and its legendary pitch forum, it was love at first sight,” said Marie Nelson, pictured above. “Hot Docs has earned its reputation as a beacon for the global documentary filmmaking community and their audiences by fostering a sense of home and supporting the best in the genre year-round. I am so energized to begin working with my colleagues at Hot Docs to continue innovating and building an even more inclusive and dynamic future for our storytellers.” continue innovating and building an even more inclusive and dynamic future for our storytellers.”
Ms. Nelson is a media veteran with decades of experience in independent documentary film, news, and broadcasting. She has held senior positions at American networks, including most recently as Senior Vice President at ABC News/Disney where she led a brand and content strategy that pioneered and developed inclusive and diverse-led content for television, streaming and film audiences.
It is just coincidence, but this morning the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival announced new staff appointments with Lindsay Monture as Festival Director, and David Morrison as Associate Director, in advance of the 24th Annual Festival this fall. imagineNATIVE will host in person screenings and events October 17-22, 2023 in Toronto, followed by online presentations October 23-29, 2023. “On behalf of imagineNATIVE we are thrilled to have David and Lindsay join in these leadership roles,” said Naomi Johnson, Executive Director of imagineNATIVE. “We are grateful to have their talents dedicated towards presenting Indigenous artists and advocating for Indigenous narrative sovereignty.”
APTN announced the 2nd season of Yukon Harvest will start on June 10, five days after the start of the Northern Tutchone version on June 5. Filmed in Canada, the 13 episode documentary series chronicles the adventures of Indigenous guides and hunters as they journey into the remote wilds to connect with the land, share in culture, find personal healing, and give back to the community. The series is produced by Rogue River Films Inc. (based in Duncan, BC). Season two continues the adventures of the hunters and guides from season one now following them back into their own communities across the country.
Yesterday, New Brunswick MP Jenica Atwin and filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal called on Parliament to ban the use of glyphosate, Canada’s most widely-used weed killer. Atwin presented a petition – signed by more than 18,000 Canadians and backed by numerous environmental organizations – to her parliamentary colleagues.
“There is an alarming and growing body of independent scientific research proving glyphosate’s harm to humans and all other life that Canada’s regulator, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, is ignoring,” said Baichwal, whose recent documentary, Into the Weeds: Dewayne Lee Johnson vs. Monsanto Company investigated the damaging and systemic impacts of glyphosate. “The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is too invested in using manufacturer’s science and protecting its past decisions to be trusted to assess the safety of glyphosate,” said Baichwal. “This is agency capture at its worst, and it has to stop.”
Attempts by the public to have the PMRA seriously consider the evidence have been rebuffed. Organizations, including the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment; Ecojustice; Environmental Defence; Friends of the Earth Canada; Safe Food Matters and David Suzuki Foundation have repeatedly asked PMRA to review and act on current science rather than maintaining its 2017 decision to allow continued use of the chemical. Yet glyphosate is currently approved until 2032.
Baichwal’s petition calls for 1) A ban on the sale and use of glyphosate to protect human, animal, insect, soil, plant and planetary health; and 2) A comprehensive plan to reduce pesticide use in Canada. This would allow Canada to fulfill its recent commitment to Article 7 of the Global Biodiversity Framework, which calls for a reduction of pesticides by 50 per cent by 2030.
Global has announced a new season of Family Law will premiere Monday, May 22 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Global and STACKTV. Canadian actors Jewel Staite, Victor Garber, Zach Smadu, Genelle Williams and Lauren Holly all return for the new season, which was the #1 new Canadian series when it debuted. Then, Season 3 of Departure, which picked up five nominations at this year’s Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Drama Series returns Monday, August 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Global and STACKTV. Acclaimed Canadian actor Eric McCormack joins Emmy Award® winner Archie Panjabi and the rest of the ensemble cast as they investigate the sinking of a sea ferry destined for Newfoundland. “Global is the home of ‘Hollywood North’ with so many Canadian and international icons starring in our summer lineup this year,” said Troy Reeb, Executive Vice President, Broadcast Networks, Corus Entertainment.
Super Channel has announced the debut of a three-part true-crime docu-series. Thunder: The Life and Death of Arturo Gatti, is set to premiere on Sunday, May 14 at 9 p.m. ET on Super Channel Fuse. Produced by Edmonton’s Adam Scorgie and Shane Fennessey of ScoreG Productions, along with co-creator, Alex Orlando, the film is written, directed, and co-created by award-winning writer/director Guillaume Carlier of Kino Sum, and edited and co-written by Pollyanna Hardwicke-Brown of Gruvpix Films. The story is told over 3 episodes, titled. Episode 1: “Born in Montreal” Episode 2: “Death by Hanging” and Episode 3: “Why Did Nothing Happen?”
The Toronto International Film Festival® has announced a new partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in support of science on screen. The new programme, Breakthroughs: The Sloan Science on Screen Programme, puts science in the spotlight and equips screen creators with industry connections and creative support at TIFF to further their science- and/or technology-focused projects. The Breakthroughs: The Sloan Science on Screen Programme will run at TIFF from 2023 to 2024, funded by a generous gift from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. This new initiative will comprise three areas of focus: the Sloan Science & Technology Project Pitch, the Sloan Science & Technology Writer Fellowship, and the Sloan Science on Film Showcase. Applications for the Sloan Science & Technology Project Pitch are now open.
Two relatively new film festivals have announced their 2023 plans. Founded in 2021, the Blue Mountain Film Festival in Ontario returns for 4 days starting June 1st. And in Vancouver the 2nd annual Vancouver Greek Film Festival also runs for 4 days and starts on June1st. Find links to these and other June 2023 film festivals here.
More festival news, The Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) opened their Pitch THIS! application process on Monday, May 1 for Canadian creators to submit their original animated series concept. Presented in partnership with the Ottawa-based animation studio Mercury Filmworks, Pitch THIS! provides a unique opportunity for new voices to refine their craft and connect with a large audience of their peers, studio executives and potential financiers. This year’s Pitch THIS! winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize courtesy of Mercury Filmworks, an annual Harmony licence and online training from Toon Boom, and two TAC AnimaPasses to OIAF 2024. There is more information and a link to the PITCH THIS! application form on the OIAF website.
Finally, the Reelworld Screen Institute celebrates 15 years of partnership with the Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Central Ontario). There will be a free screening of A Brief Record of My Father’s Time At Sea, directed by Reelworld alum Jeanette Kong. The screening is followed by a live Q&A with the director, moderated by Pahull Bains, Outreach & Marketing Manager at Reelworld. The screening will take place at the Innis Town Hall in downtown Toronto on May 28 and 7PM.