During the past five years, feature-length documentaries receiving support from Telefilm Canada have earned 130 selections in major international festivals abroad. The United States, Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Argentina, China and France top the list of 31 countries whose festivals have all honoured Canadian documentaries. The international reach of Canadian documentaries as a whole was once again confirmed at the Sundance Film Festival, as the feature My Prairie Home by Chelsea McMullan (National Film Board of Canada) is to be screened in competition in the World Cinema Documentary category, which showcases only 12 international films. In addition, Elliot by Matthew Baukman and Jaret Belliveau (Garage Doc Films) will be presented in the Documentary Features section at Slamdance, the parallel festival specializing in debut feature films.
“Canadian documentaries contribute greatly to the diversity and success of our cinema,” said Carolle Brabant, Executive Director of Telefilm Canada. “They offer a unique perspective on personal, social, economic and political issues of universal interest. Just think of Stories We Tell, the deeply personal first documentary by actor and director Sarah Polley, who has already received the Best Non-Fiction Film Award from the New York Film Critics Circle and the Best Documentary Award from the National Board Review and is also in the running for an Oscar. And let’s not forget about China Heavyweight by Yung Chang, shown last December in 200 theatres in China, making it the most widely distributed documentary in the history of this country.”
Over the past five years, primarily through the Theatrical Documentary Program, Telefilm has supported 123 documentaries, including 74 English- and 49 French-language works, for a total of more than $9 million in investments. Financing for this program is provided by the unique public-private partnership between Telefilm and the Rogers Group of Funds.
The Sundance Film Festival has helped launch several Canadian documentaries on the international scene including The Corporation by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, which won the Audience Award in 2004; Shake Hands with the Devil by Peter Raymont in 2005; Manufactured Landscapes by Jennifer Baichwal in 2007; Up the Yangtze by Yung Chang in 2008; Prom Night in Mississippi by Paul Saltzman in 2009; Last Train Home by Lixin Fan in 2010; China Heavyweight by Yung Chang in 2012; and Payback by Jennifer Baichwal in 2012.
The complete programming schedule at Sundance and Slamdance is available online. The Sundance Film Festival will be held in Utah from January 16 to 26, 2014.