Karen Cho (Episodes 2, 7 & 8 )
Karen Cho is an award-winning writer & director of documentary films and TV series. A graduate of Concordia University’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, in 2003 she directed In the Shadow of Gold Mountain, a National Film Board of Canada documentary about the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act. The film went on to win a Golden Sheaf Award for Best Multicultural Documentary at the 2005 Yorkton Film Festival and also won a CBC Golden Ribbon Award for Diversity in News and Information Programming. Cho’s second documentary, Seeking Refuge (SRC/RDI/CBC) follows asylum seekers in Canada. The film garnered her a 2009 Gemini Award nomination for Best Direction in a Documentary Program. Karen has also worked as a series director on the documentary series Past Lives (Global TV), a show about Canadians in search of their ancestral roots, and Extraordinary Canadians (OMNI), a biography series based on the Penguin Canada collection of books. She is currently in development with the NFB on a feature documentary about the women’s movement and is finishing up her experimental docu-fiction Family Secrets. Interested in using film as a tool for social debate, Cho’s work often recounts untold histories and explores themes of identity, immigration and social justice. Her approach to filmmaking is shaped by personal experience, pop-culture and her background in a richly multi-ethnic family.
Lewis Cohen (Episode 11)
Lewis Cohen is an Emmy award-winning filmmaker, consultant and content producer. He is currently completing The Investigation, a feature documentary that explores the social and historical context behind the tragic kidnapping and murder of Ilan Halimi, a young Parisian Jew. Lewis’ previous work includes the feature doc Lovesick, which unveils the shocking reality of the artists who put their flesh on the line in Cirque du Soleil’s troubled Las Vegas cabaret Zumanity. Lovesick was released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, broadcast by Bravo US, ARTV, Radio-Canada, CBC, Sky Arts Channel UK, and won the 2007 Gemini Award for Best Arts Documentary. Lewis also wrote and directed the 13-part series Fire Within, which follows the tribulations of six performers in one of Cirque du Soleil’s hit touring shows. Broadcast in the US, Canada, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia, Fire Within won the 2003 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Program as well as Gemini Awards for Best Direction in a Documentary Series and Best Reality-Based Entertainment Program.
Joshua Dorsey (Episodes 3 & 6)
Joshua Dorsey, is currently producing and directing the 18-episode TV Series Bitchin’ Kitchen Season 2 for Food Network Canada and Cooking Channel USA and masterminding the online and traditional extensions of the Bitchin’ brand. Bitchin’ Kitchen and Bitchin’ Lifestyle’s online success has been paralleled by the launch of two best-selling cookbooks, industry awards for Favorite Mobile Series, Hottest Emerging Digital Brand in Canada and a nomination for Brand of the Year in 2009, as well as making it the first-ever lifestyle brand to go from online to prime-time in North America. Dorsey recently completed directing several episodes of the television series Extraordinary Canadians (Rogers), after Series directing the12-part television series Webdreams Season I & II for Showcase (spring 2007), for which he received a Gemini Award nomination for Best Direction in a Documentary Series. Previously, Dorsey co-produced and directed the feature films: The Point (2006, premiered Thessaloniki in competition), One Day (2004) Here am I (premiered Toronto Int’l, 1999), and City of Tongues (Golden Sheaf Award, Best Long Drama). Dorsey also produced and directed the 35mm portraits Requiem for the Missing, Life and Lilies and Infiltrator, as well as the narrative short Breath. Dorsey’s ongoing work with ‘at-risk’ teens has resulted in the award-winning short films A Day So Beautiful, Janie and Everything’s All Fight. Dorsey now has two new features: A&Z and Pans of Steel in development. Dorsey graduated from Harvard University and Columbia University’s Graduate Film Program.
Kenneth Hirsch (Episode 4 – Summer shoot & post-production; Episode 12)
Prior to founding PMA Productions Inc., Kenneth spent ten years at the National Film Board of Canada. Some of his credits as producer of documentaries include the Gemini award nominated Shylock (1999), directed by Pierre Lasry; the three-part television series War at Sea I and II (1995) and Web of War (1995), directed by Brian McKenna; and Berlin-festival selected Anatomy of Desire (1995), directed by Jean-Francois Monette and Outbreak: Anatomy of a Plague (2010), directed by Jefferson Lewis. As PMA’s executive producer, Kenneth handles relationships between financial and creative partners and works closely with key creatives to oversee production quality for all of PMA’s projects. Kenneth also co-directed Extraordinary Canadians Episode 4: Rudy Wiebe on Big Bear, and directed Extraordinary Canadians Episode 12: John Ralston Saul on Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine and Robert Baldwin. He is a graduate of Harvard University.
Helene Klodawsky (Episodes 9 & 10)
Helene Klodawsky is a veteran independent filmmaker – a passionate artist committed both to the political struggles her films portray and to the art form she has chosen to explore. In poignant, daring films such as No More Tears Sister (2005) – about a slain Sri Lankan human rights activist – and Family Motel (2007) – a riveting alternative drama about Canadian immigration and its attendant horrors – she reveals the depth and breadth of those commitments. Over the last twenty-five years, her films have been screened and televised around the world, and have received more than 25 honours, including awards and nominations from the Academy of Canadian Cinema, Hot Docs, Les Rendez-vous du Cinema Quebecois, the Jerusalem International Film Festival, the San Francisco International Film Festival, and the Mannheim International Film Festival. Klodawsky is currently writing and directing Ground to Ground, a feature length documentary about a new breed of social worker, making a difference in intractable conflict zones. A graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Klodawsky is a member of Doc Organization, the Writer’s Guild of Canada, Réalisatrices Équitables, Observatoire du Documentaire, and the the Director’s Guild of Canada.
Tom Puchniak (Episode 5)
Tom Puchniak has been involved in every aspect of broadcast journalism over four decades, including a decade with CBC Radio as a news reporter in the Yukon & NWT, on-air contributor to national programs, and producer of numerous documentaries. He then moved into televsion as current affairs and arts producer at CBC Montreal, before finally graduating to his first love – film. In the past 25 years he has made documentaries around the world, including The Need to Know and The Double Shift, looking at women’s struggle for equal opportunity in education and the workplace, hosted by Susan Sarandon; Is Love Enough? exploring the controversial question of whether mentally disabled couples should have children; Untangling the Mind, recounting the evolution of the treatment of mental illness from the snake pit era to the present, winner of Best Documentary, Yorkton Film Festival and the Chris Award, Columbus Film Festival; co-directed Coat of Many Countries which followed the making of a men’s suit through a global assembly line involving nine countries, and Singing in the Shadow, about the children of rock stars trying to find their own place in the music business. He has also collaborated on films about street children in India (winning another Chris Award), women workers in the sweatshops of Thailand, the social and environmental impact of industrialization in India and Mexico, and many other films dealing with social issues. He believes that documentaries play an essential role in helping us understand our world and making informed decisions about our future.
Adrian Wills (Episode 1, Episode 4 – Winter shoot)
Adrian Wills is a multi award-winning filmmaker based out of Montreal. His 2008 hit documentary All Together Now, about the making of Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles show, earned Wills a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video, a Gemeaux for Best Cultural Documentary, a Radio-Canada Audience Award at the Festival du Nouveau Cinema and was voted a Top Ten favourite at Hot Docs 2008, among others. In addition to holding the coveted role as go-to director for Cirque du Soleil’s numerous portraits and feature/TV documentaries, Wills directed and co-wrote the 2006 documentary In the Hands of Michel Tremblay (Radio-Canada, Bravo! TFO, ARTV, TV5 Monde), which was awarded a Gemeaux for Best Director for Documentary and was nominated for Best Biography or Portrait. His narrative work includes the CFC short film The Hunt (broadcast on Global TV), the short film Big Money (nominated for a 2004 Golden Sheaf Award for Best Drama), and the 2000 short film The Next Day, which was broadcast on CBC Canadian Reflections. Wills is a graduate of Toronto’s Canadian Film Centre and holds a BFA with Honors from Concordia’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. He is currently in post-production on the widely-anticipated feature documentary Touch The Sky, about Guy Laliberté’s journey to space, and is shooting his first feature TV Movie for Lifetime, Crisis Point.