Remembering Pepita Ferrari (1952-2018)

Remembering Pepita Ferrari (1952-2018)

The National Film Board of Canada deeply mourns the loss of documentary filmmaker, producer and author Pepita Ferrari, who died on December 30 at her home in Lac Brome, at the age of 66.
A past Executive Director and board member with the Documentary Organization of Canada, Pepita combined a lifelong passion for documentary storytelling and a deep interest in exploring the performing arts on film.
Working with long-time partner Louis Piché, Pepita co-founded Films Piché Ferrari in 1989—a vital source of independent storytelling in Montreal.
Pepita and Louis met at Ciné-Groupe when she worked with its animation department in 1987. By 1994, she would direct and co-produce her first documentary at the NFB, By Woman’s Hand, exploring the Beaver Hall Group of Canadian women painters.
Three years later, she would direct another NFB documentary on women trailblazers: her film on 19th-century women travellers, The Petticoat Expeditions. Her final directorial project with the NFB was Source, a 2011 short portrait of Margie Gillis, produced in honour of Gillis’s Governor General’s Performing Arts Award.
Her most ambitious work with the NFB began in 2007, when she was asked to direct the landmark web and film project Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary, exploring the creative process of over 30 leading documentary filmmakers, which had its world premiere at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, and was nominated for Best Arts Documentary Program or Series at the Gemini Awards.
In addition to her leadership role at DOC, Pepita served as a board member at Cinema Politica, a programming jury member at RIDM, and was one of the founders of the Eastern Townships Film Festival, which had a special focus on bringing docs to Eastern Townships audiences.
“Documentary filmmaking and the Quebec film community have lost a dear friend. As a writer, producer and filmmaker—and a generous mentor to emerging filmmakers—Pepita was a true champion of documentary cinema. Many of her works focused on the achievements of strong, pioneering women artists—and that is how we will remember Pepita Ferrari,” said NFB Commissioner Claude Joli-Coeur.
Pepita’s landmark interactive doc Capturing Reality - companion to the feature film included in this playlist- is being relaunched online January 15. Visit NFB.ca in the coming days for more details.

  • Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary
    2008|1 h 37 min

    In this feature-length film on the art of the documentary, director Pepita Ferrari interviews 33 leading documentarians and shows clips from over 50 films. From cinéma-vérité pioneers like Albert Maysles and Michel Brault to mavericks like Errol Morris and Nick Broomfield, it explores the challenges of capturing reality on film. Directors as diverse as Pakistani feminist Sabiha Sumar and new media guru Peter Wintonick reflect on ethical issues and the contested status of the “truth.”

    Featured interviews include German iconoclast Werner Herzog; Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzmán; British director Kim Longinotto and Alanis Obomsawin, the First Lady of First Nations cinema. Visit Capturing Reality for additional interviews and background.

  • By Woman's Hand
    1994|58 min

    In 1920, a group of young Montreal women artists formed the nucleus of what would later become known as the Beaver Hall Hill Group. Together, they created an artistic environment of mutual support that lasted for more than three decades. By Woman's Hand explores this unique group through the eyes of Prudence Heward, Sarah Robertson and Anne Savage, its three most prominent members.

  • Source
    2011|6 min

    In this short film, Margie Gillis becomes the very embodiment of modern dance - she steps into the light, lifts her arms and unleashes her extraordinary mane into the air.

    Four decades into a remarkable career, Gillis is a beacon of compassion and creativity. Watch as high-speed cameras capture the delicate and savage joy of Canada's own Isadora Duncan.

    Produced by the National Film Board of Canada in co-operation with the National Arts Centre and the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Foundation on the occasion of the 2011 Governor General's Performing Arts Awards.

  • The Petticoat Expeditions, Part One: Anna Jameson
    1997|23 min

    This short film from The Petticoat Expeditions series follows acclaimed British author Anna Jameson to Upper Canada, where she journeyed solo through the Canadian wilderness in 1830 – a time when it was unheard of for a women to travel alone.

    The Petticoat Expeditions series, which uses the words and works of 3 extraordinary British women to recount their experiences in 19th-century Canada, paints an inspiring portrait of women who would not be constrained by convention.

  • The Petticoat Expeditions, Part Two: Frances Hopkins
    1997|19 min

    This short film from The Petticoat Expeditions series follows artist Frances Hopkins to Canada, where she journeyed by canoe with the voyageurs during the final days of the fur trade in Canada.

    The Petticoat Expeditions series, which uses the words and works of 3 extraordinary British women to recount their experiences in 19th-century Canada, paints an inspiring portrait of women who would not be constrained by convention.

  • The Petticoat Expeditions, Part Three: Countess of Aberdeen
    1997|20 min

    This short film from The Petticoat Expeditions follows the life of social activist Lady Aberdeen, who devoted herself to social reform and helped found both the National Council of Women of Canada and the Victorian Order of Nurses in Canada.

    The Petticoat Expeditions series, which uses the words and works of 3 extraordinary British women to recount their experiences in 19th-century Canada, paints an inspiring portrait of women who would not be constrained by convention.