That Higher Levelfollows the 100 musicians who make up the National Youth Orchestra of Canada over the course of two months of training and touring across the country. Embedded with the orchestra throughout, filmmaker John Bolton weaves together footage that captures the essence of the training institute and, eventually, the journey and performances on tour.
This feature documentary presents a thoughtful and vivid portrait of a community facing imposed relocation. At the centre of the story is a remarkably astute and luminous 12-year-old black girl whose poignant observations about life, the soul, and the power of art give voice to those rarely heard in society. Unarmed Verses is a cinematic rendering of our universal need for self-expression and belonging.
In this feature documentary-musical by Chelsea McMullan, indie singer Rae Spoon takes us on a playful, meditative and at times melancholic journey. Set against majestic images of the infinite expanses of the Canadian Prairies, the film features Spoon crooning about their queer and musical coming of age. Interviews, performances and music sequences reveal Spoon’s inspiring process of building a life of their own, as a trans person and as a musician.
Official selection at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
Brilliantly mixing animated sequences and archival footage, Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre paints a touching portrait of virtuoso pianist Oscar Peterson. As with her previous films (McLaren’s Negative and Jutra), Saint-Pierre pursues her bold and personal approach with this animated documentary of Oscar Peterson at the twilight of an exceptional career, as he wistfully meditates on the price of fame and the impacts of the artist’s life on family life. From the young prodigy’s beginnings in Little Burgundy to his triumphs on the international stage alongside the biggest stars of his time, Oscar explores the profound solitude of an artist constantly on tour, and the difficulty in reconciling his professional success with his role as husband and father. Set to the tunes of Peterson’s sometimes catchy, sometimes melancholy-tinged compositions, the film alternates between animated sequences and footage of radio and video interviews to tell a heartfelt story about a life in jazz.
In this short documentary, Canadian concert pianist Glenn Gould enjoys a respite at his lakeside cottage. This is an aspect of Gould previously known only to the collie pacing beside him through the woods, the fishermen resting their oars to hear his piano, and fellow musicians like Franz Kraemer, with whom Gould talks of composition.
This short documentary follows Glenn Gould to New York City. There, we see the renowned Canadian concert pianist kidding the cab driver, bantering with sound engineers at Columbia Records, and then, alone with the piano, fastidiously recording Bach's Italian Concerto.
This short documentary profiles Quebec-born singing sisters Kate and Anna McGarrigle. The sisters enjoy international acclaim—although outside of the mainstream—for their inimitable style, their talent as songwriters, and especially their unassuming, informal personalities. With camera and sketchbook in hand, artist and filmmaker Caroline Leaf captures the sisters’ endearing qualities. The result is an easygoing, sometimes whimsical portrait of the famous sisters on and off stage. Highlights include excerpts from the sisters’ Carnegie Hall performance and a look at their songwriting and recording processes.
Michael Bublé reveals the source of his creative courage in this captivating short film. By the age of five, Bublé knew that music was his destiny. While other performers sang pop tunes, Bublé was swinging the standards on the club scene, becoming an indie artist long before it was cool. Supported by a devoted family who always believed in his dreams, Bublé remains a rebel. With 50 million albums sold, this inimitable Canadian artist is beloved by audiences around the globe, and continues to defy all expectations.
This short documentary profiles an imaginative inventor and craftsman who makes whimsical stringed instruments out of unlikely items. In his hands, shovels, rakes, baseball bats, and stop signs become beautiful and functional guitars, violins, banjos, and fiddles.After a near-death experience, retired machinist Lorne Collie embarked on his creative journey, and this heartening film offers a folksy, one-of-a-kind portrait of Collie's spirit and talent. Through weathered doc footage and hand-crafted animation, the film shows that Collie is having more fun than he’s had in a long time and feeling more than alive.
In this feature documentary, husband-and-wife team Karsten Heuer and Leanne Allison (Being Caribou), along with their 2-year-old son and dog, retrace the literary footsteps of Canadian writer Farley Mowat. They canoe east from Calgary towards the Prairies (the geography of Farley's Born Naked and Owls in the Family) and then traverse the same paths that Mowat took more than 60 years earlier in Never Cry Wolf and People of the Deer. Their epic 5,000 km journey—trekking, sailing, portaging and paddling—ends in the Maritimes, at Mowat's Nova Scotia summer home.
It’s the opportunity of a lifetime for artist Phil Richards, who’s been commissioned to create Canada’s official portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for her Diamond Jubilee. Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Hubert Davis follows Richards over months of painstaking preparations, as he works to capture Her Majesty’s likeness and spirit on canvas.
Bryan Adams is one of world’s most enduringly popular singer/songwriters. He is most at home in his Vancouver studio, surrounded by his collection of vintage microphones and guitars. Adams calls it “a very analog space in a very digital world.” In this short documentary, we witness an intimate rendition of his song “One World, One Flame” and hear him speak of his audience-centred approach to performance: “I want it to be fun, I want it to be real.”