Swan Song at TIFF
by Staff Editors
(July 25, 2023 – Toronto, ON) The definition of a swan song usually means the last performance of an actor or singer or some other entertainer. In this case it is the title of a new feature documentary that will screen at TIFF this September. It also has Neve Campbell as one of its Executive Producers. Campbell began taking ballet lessons when she was six and three years later she auditioned and was accepted at the National Ballet of Canada. The Swan Song title is appropriate because the story on screen immerses viewers inside The National Ballet of Canada as it mounts a legacy-defining new production of Swan Lake, directed by ballet icon Karen Kain on the eve of her retirement.
“This project is deeply personal to me given my longtime admiration for Karen Kain and The National Ballet of Canada, starting with my time as a student at Canada’s National Ballet School,” said Neve Campbell, who joined the project as it entered production. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of The Company, the Robert Altman-directed ballet film she conceived of, produced and starred in. “Ballet was my first love, and Swan Song beautifully captures the incredible devotion, artistry and sacrifices that dancers make in their pursuit of creating something beautiful and meaningful. I’m so proud of our team and I can’t wait to celebrate the film.”
With full access granted to the filmmakers, the verité-driven Swan Song closely follows Kain and a group of young dancers drawn from across The National Ballet of Canada’s ranks, weaving Swan Lake’s dramatic creation process with intimate scenes from the subjects’ personal lives as they push toward one of the most significant nights in their company’s history. The film’s intimate, character-driven approach chronicles creative conflicts, devastating injuries and personal sacrifices amongst its subjects who, in various ways, confront ideals of race, class and body standards as they navigate a tradition that has historically valued uniformity and compliance.
“I’m so pleased that Swan Song will premiere at TIFF, and that the wonderful Neve Campbell is a part of the film’s team. Agreeing to open up the creative process of a brand new production of Swan Lake to a crew of filmmakers was a vulnerable act, to say the least,” said Kain, who stepped into the role of Director for the first time in her nearly 50-year career as a dancer and Artistic Director with her production of Swan Lake. “However, the film’s extraordinary crew made the process far more intuitive than I expected and by the end, it felt as if we were all in it together. I look forward to celebrating the film and everyone involved this fall, most especially the extraordinary artists and staff at The National Ballet of Canada who brought Swan Lake to life.”
“Making Swan Song has been an epic, three-year journey and I’m thrilled to finally be sharing the film with audiences, at TIFF and beyond,” said the film’s director Chelsea McMullen, who co-wrote the film with producer Sean O’Neill. “Collaborating with such a talented, dedicated team to realize a project so ambitious has changed me as a filmmaker, and Neve’s sensitivity and deep understanding of the life of a ballet dancer has enriched our process immeasurably. I want to thank our subjects and The National Ballet of Canada for trusting us with their awe-inspiring work and moving stories.”
Swan Song is a Visitor Media production in association with Mercury Films Inc. and Quiet Ghost. It is presented by Blue Ice Docs and Dogwoof. Sean O’Neill produces along with Christina Carvalho. Chelsea McMullan, Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, Anna Godas and Oli Harbottle are executive producers alongside Neve Campbell. Swan Song was produced in association with CBC, Telefilm Canada, the Canada Media Fund, Ontario Creates, and the Rogers Cable Network Fund. For CBC, Sally Catto is General Manager, Entertainment, Factual, & Sports; Jennifer Dettman is Executive Director, Unscripted Content; Sandra Kleinfeld is Senior Director, Documentary; and Grazyna Krupa is Executive in Charge of Programming, Unscripted Content.
Following its screening at TIFF 2023, Swan Song will be released theatrically in Canada on September 22, 2023. It will air as a four-part limited series on CBC Gem and CBC TV, premiering November 22, 2023.
SOURCE: Visitor Media, Touchwood PR