100 minutes – Documentary
Festival release date: September 9, 2023 – Toronto International Film Festival
Release date: September 29, 2023 – Toronto
Production company: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Mercury Films, Quiet Ghost, Visitor Media
Canadian distributor: Blue Ice Docs
Swan Song immerses viewers inside one of the world’s leading ballet companies as it mounts a legacy-defining new production of Swan Lake, directed by ballet icon Karen Kain on the eve of her retirement. With full access granted to the filmmakers, the verité-driven documentary closely follows Karen 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.
Swan Song had its World Premiere as a Gala Presentation at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival. An expanded four-part limited series will premiere on CBC Gem and CBC TV November 22, 2023.
Also see: Swan Song at TIFF 2023.