Despite three entries at Sundance, Canadian documentaries are in dire shape
With three documentaries in competition, a feature film in the spotlight and a buzz-ready debut in premieres, this year’s Canadian contingent at the Sundance Film Festival may be the best in recent memory. But while official agencies have been quick to put out logo-laden news releases and party invitations celebrating our success, filmmakers say it’s no time to wave the Maple Leaf.
The Canadian funding system that gave birth to hometown heroes in the past, and the very core of the documentary tradition spawned by John Grierson, has been eroding in recent years, as a result of continuing budget cuts and shrinking broadcast windows.
Documentary production in Canada declined to its lowest level in six years, resulting in rising unemployment in the documentary field as a whole, according to Getting Real, a March 2011 report prepared by the Documentary Organization of Canada.
“Essentially, we are finding less and less support,” says Peter Wintonick, a veteran documentary director and producer who attended Sundance in years past with projects such as Manufacturing Consent, a film about linguistic guru Noam Chomsky. (Illustration by Andrew Barr)