History

As a matter of historical record, the following document recognizes that the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC) has been built on the efforts of many tireless volunteers who have given their time and shared their passion to shape the vibrant documentary community we have today.

In our efforts to mark our 25th anniversary year in 2008, we began highlighting a number of DOC's members who have made invaluable contributions to our organization. The honourees noted in the October 2008 E-Blast send out were instrumental in DOC's evolution when nineteen years ago, in 1990, they helped begin the process of creating a national organization by signing the first incorporation papers and bringing together the Toronto and Montréal chapters.

But the story - and history of the DOC – began in 1983, years before the signing of the 1990 incorporation. What follows is presenting our history from the founding of our organization onwards. We will miss names, and some dates, but we will turn to you to assist and invite you to contribute on the Wikipedia article that will be uploaded shortly.

As a means of providing context, background and sentiments in the early 1980s it is worth looking at what was happening in Canadian film back then. In 1982 for instance, a dozen independent filmmakers were invited and brought together by Cinema Canada magazine to a round table discussion of the film production scene:

“A new generation poised for action”, Cinema Canada, July 1982, p 11-13.

The following year, in 1983, a different group of filmmakers began meeting on their own in Toronto. These documentarians got together to discuss collective benefits (such as a dental plan), but it was a vital need for political representation and advocacy that inspired the group to create an organization of independent documentary filmmakers. They founded what would be called the Canadian Independent Film Caucus (CIFC).

They were:

• Rudy Buttignol • Barry Greenwald • Robert Lang • Peter Raymont • Laura Sky • John Walker

The CIFC/DOC’s first lobbying effort was directed at what was then the Canadian Broadcast Program Development Fund (administered by the predecessor of Telefilm Canada). The rallying issue was the fund’s exclusion of documentaries in its mandate. Fourteen filmmakers from 10 production companies constituted the CIFC/DOC's membership at the time. Their first submission was written on Barry Greenwald's IBM Selectric typewriter:

CIFC/DOC First Intervention, November 25, 1983

This letter was signed by:

• Murray Battle • Rudy Buttignol • Paul de Silva • Niv Fichman • Barry Greenwald • Jennifer Hodge • Robert Lang • Heather McAndrew • Peter Raymont • Deepak Sahasrabudhe • Laura Sky • David Springbett • Barbara Sweete • Larry Weinstein

One important addition, the arrival of John Walker into the group, would complete the picture that year.

From DOC's early years, one person has steadfastly given her time and energy. Barri Cohen was the organization's policy analyst, knowledge base and more. In addition to being a powerhouse on the lobbying front, she played a leading role with POV Magazine, first started by Geoff Bowie, and was a long standing member of the Toronto and National Executive as Chair et al.

Here are a few key dates in the organization's history:

• 1983 – First meetings, first intervention letter. CIFC is founded in Toronto. • 1985 – First newsletter is sent - by fax. It eventually becomes POV. • 1988 – Montréal chapter (later to be known as Quebec chapter) is formed • 1991 – A National Executive is formed - John Walker, President • 1991 – First edition of POV Magazine – Geoff Bowie, first Publisher • 1994 – The first edition of Hot Docs is held • 1995 – Atlantic chapter is formed • 1996 – BC chapter is formed • 1997 – Hot Docs incorporates as a separate charitable organization • 1998 – First coast-to-coast National Executive elected - Gary Marcuse, Chair • 2003 – The CIFC changes its name to the DOC • 2006 – Ottawa chapter is formed • 2006 – Newfoundland chapter is formed • 2007 – Winnipeg chapter is formed • 2008 – Alberta chapter is formed • 2009 – Newfoundland chapter folds

Our thanks to the following members who gave much of their time to act as National Chairs:

• Barri Cohen – 1994-1997, 2000-2001 • Barry Greenwald – 1995-1997 • Gary Marcuse – 1998 • Geoff Bowie – 1999-2000 • Andrea Nemtin – 2002-2003 • Bart Simpson – 2003-2004 • Michael McNamara – 2005-2008

In recognition of their significant contribution to the growth of the organization, we wish to thank the following members who were then, and still are in most cases, Toronto-based:

• Geoff Bowie • Rudy Buttignol • Paul Caulfield • Barri Cohen • Janice Dawe • Katherine Gilday • Barry Greenwald • Paul Jay • Ali Kazimi • Robert Lang • Heather McAndrew • Andrea Nemtin • David Ostriker • Anne Pick • Peter Raymont • David Springbett • John Walker • Bay Weyman

Critical to the history of DOC's formation and expansion as a national organization, was the creation of the CIFC/DOC Montréal chapter. Formed in 1988 this chapter emerged out of the pre-existing and parallel efforts of several activist filmmaker groups that sprang up in the late 1980s. These activists were strategically placed and intimately knowledgeable about the politics of national institutions based in Montréal, such as Telefilm Canada and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB/ONF). Their work was also critical thanks to their alliances with other Québec based groups such as the Association des producteurs de films et de télévision du Québec (APFTQ).

The following Montréal members, among others, were very active:

• Irene Angelico • Alain Chartrand • Barbara Doran • Martin Duckworth • Richard Elson • Ina Fichman • Malcolm Guy • George Hargrave • Anne Henderson • Magnus Isacsson • Terre Nash • Abbey Neidik • Erica Pomerance • Michael Rubbo • Tanya Tree • Peter Wintonick

DOC grew by leaps and bounds from the mid 1990s onwards as it moved from a primarily Central Canada organization to a truly national coast-to-coast one. The following key members, among others, brought much to DOC with their invaluable ground breaking work in the nationalization process and their contributions.

Atlantic Canada:

• Peter d’Entremont • Don Duchene • Sylvia Hamilton • John Hopkins • Chuck Lapp • Neal Livingston

British Columbia:

• Mark Achbar • Michelle Bjornsen • Lynn Booth • Betsy Carson • Andrea Droege • Cari Green • Brian Hamilton • Karen Lam • Cindy Leany • Gary Marcuse • Sylvie Peltier • Bart Simpson • Harry Sutherland • Nettie Wild

Newfoundland and Labrador:

• Kelly Davis • Victoria King • Baptiste Niece

Ottawa-Gatineau:

• Jane Gurr • Sabrina Matthews • Sheila Petzold

Winnipeg:

• Merit Jensen Carr • Charles Konowal • Kristin Tresoor • Don Young

Alberta:

• Terri Casella • Eva Colmers • Franco Dottor • Rosie Dransfeld • Ava Karvonen • Jaro Malanowski • Signy Oleson-Cormack • Tom Radford • Patricia Turanich • Niobe Thompson • Bjorn Ulffson

We look forward to formally recognizing these members' contributions as DOC marks many other anniversaries!

 

 

 

Acknowledgement: The Cinema Canada article is reproduced with the kind permission of Connie Tadros and thanks to Del Mehes.

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