|Independent documentary filmmakers across the country are getting their extraordinary stories on mainstream television. Global Currents, a new series of documentaries with a Canadian point of view, will launch its weekly one-hour show on September 23rd at 7 p.m. on Global Television.
"Weve been working in developing this series for a few years now and I have been involved in championing the cause of long-form journalism, in particular documentary journalism," says Peter Kent, deputy editor of news at Global Television.
Global Television will air 12 original documentaries this fall and another six in the spring of 2007. Kent hopes that these character-driven stories about social, political and economic issues will generate discussion on subjects important to Canadians. He says, "The series has a wide range of topics, treatments and perspectives in a point of view format, which allows for unusual and provocative projects to get aired."
The call for project proposals was a great success. Independent producers from across Canada responded in droves. The team at Global Television had many topics to choose from, but focused on stories that had strong Canadian content. "We stayed away from well-travelled topics or stories that have already had a variety of treatments. And because all of the documentaries are fresh, we hope that it will gather a strong following," says Kent.
Producers and directors selected and commissioned for developing their documentary retain a strong degree of freedom in the process. Theyre given production guidance to establish a style specific to Global Currents. "We want Global Currents to have a unique touch and feel without inhibiting the creative juices of the independent producers," says Kent.
Each documentary will be hosted and introduced by Global Nationals Kevin Newman. With a short introduction looking at wider issues examined in each piece, Newman will provide a thought-provoking springboard to each documentary, explains Kent. "Not everyone will agree with the editorial direction of each documentary, but we have ensured that there is a fair and balanced treatment over the series," he says.
In order to encourage discussion, viewers will be able to discuss their impressions and share their opinions with other viewers on Global Televisions website, once the series gets going.
The series begins with a powerful documentary about Canadian environmental activists who spearheaded Greenpeace out of Vancouver in the early 1970s. "Were starting off with Greenpeace because its celebrating its 35th anniversary," says Kent. "And Greenpeace has become an identifying characteristic of Canada and Canadian concerns for the environment. The final product is solid, interesting and entertaining and immensely promotable as the first documentary in the series."
Inspired by Rex Weylers book Greenpeace: How a group of Ecologists, Journalists and Visionaries Changed the World, the documentary begins with powerful images of the first eco-battles led by long-haired, bushy-bearded, bright-eyed and mystical beings navigating a retired fishing-boat through the vast Pacific Ocean in search of whale hunters. Following a moonlit rainbow, the crew finally comes face-to-face with a Soviet harpoon ship, and this, after three months of searching to no avail and on the brink of running out of food, fuel and hope.
Now that Greenpeace has become a large organization with offices worldwide, many of its eco-battles are driven by campaigns, newsletters and demonstrations, and the occasional daring stunt such as climbing 600-foot chimney stacks or base-jumping off buildings all in the name of getting their message seen and heard. Given that living rooms across America are continuously bombarded with reality-TV shows and graphic images of the worlds horrors, competing for media attention has become another battle all together.
In search of a current Greenpeace mission with spunk and that extra edge, director-producer Leigh Badgley travelled to Argentinas Pizarro Reserve, the homeland of the Wichi Indians, who are rapidly seeing their homes and forest destroyed for the production of soya plantations, to feed pigs in other countries of the world.
Dressed in bright yellow and orange motorcycle gear, Greenpeace activists known as the "jaguars" ride their two-wheel vehicles over dirt trails in search of bulldozers, which they find and immobilize. Their efforts in the field combined with political demonstrations result in saving what is left of the Reserve.
Greenpeace: Making a Stand will premiere on September 23rd, followed by Health Care 911: The Plight of Immigrant Medical Doctors on September 30th; Breaking Ranks (an exclusive with American military deserters from the war in Iraq) on October 7th and The Dads Who Fought Back on October 14th.
"Its an area of information programming that doesnt get all that much attention or opportunity for development. We think that this is a unique outlet an area that fills a gap in the spectrum from straight news to classic documentary production," says Kent.
Independent filmmakers who would like to submit proposals to Global Currents can visit the following website for more information: www.Canada.com/globaltv/globalcurrents/index.html.