CRB Heritage Minutes hit 50

Montreal: The CRB Foundation has launched three new Heritage Minutes, including the project's 50th production. The new mini-movies are being broadcast on major tv networks across Canada and on close to 800 Cineplex Odeon and Empire theater screens....

Montreal: The CRB Foundation has launched three new Heritage Minutes, including the project’s 50th production. The new mini-movies are being broadcast on major tv networks across Canada and on close to 800 Cineplex Odeon and Empire theater screens.

The new Minutes were directed in both French and English on location in Montreal over six days by Jean-Claude Labrecque, who also did the camera lighting. Rock Demers and Kevin Tierney of Montreal’s Productions La Fete produced.

The first of the three Minutes, ‘Hart and Papineau,’ dramatizes Louis-Joseph Papineau’s plea in the Lower Canada assembly for full political and civil rights for Jews.

The second spot, ‘The Vaniers,’ features Pauline Vanier and her efforts in opposing Canadian government indifference towards European refugees on the brink of the Holocaust.

The third, ‘Refus Global,’ tells the story of painter Paul-Emile Borduas, one of the leaders and signatories of the Refus Global, a manifesto calling for creative freedom published in Quebec in 1948.

Screenwriting credits go to Michel Langlois and Louise Jobin for ‘Vanier,’ Gerald Wexler for ‘Papineau’ and series creative director Patrick Watson and Labrecque for ‘Refus Global.’

Talent credits go to Jean Marchand as Borduas, Marcel and Gabriel Sabourin as Papineau father and son, Joel Miller in the role of Ezechiel Hart, Marie-Christine Perreault as Mme. Vanier and Jean Chevalier as Georges Vanier. Rene Pothier of Les Films Plein Lune did the casting.

Louise Jobin was the art director and Anne Louber created the original music. Deborah Morrison is the Heritage Project’s program director

Watson says the 51st Minute, ‘Waterpump,’ a story about resourceful Mennonite farmers, engineers at the University of Waterloo and African villagers, will be shot May 30-31. Kari Skogland is directing and The Partners’ Film Company of Toronto is producing.

Watson hopes another 10 or so spots can be produced in 1995/96, but financing is not yet secured.

The Minutes are expensive. Prepped like feature films, they cost upwards of $150,000 and more each. But Watson says the producing entities have really supported the project by generously under-charging.

Heritage Minutes was launched in the fall of 1988 when the first shoot, ‘Underground Railroad,’ was directed by Richard Ciupka.

The program is sponsored by the crb, Canada Post, Power Broadcasting, McDonald’s Restaurants, Canadian Airlines, The Weston Foundation, Bell Canada and the federal government, which has invested in research, says Watson.

New projects on the horizon for director Labrecque (Le Sorcier) include a feature-length documentary for Verseau International this fall on the Compagnons du Saint-Laurent, a pioneer theater troop.

As for Watson, he’s preparing to publish a series of literary-styled children’s novels. The first, Ahmek, is a fantasy odyssey about a beaver forced to leave home. The former cbc chairman says adaptation for television is an as yet unexplored possibility.

More than 11 hours of Heritage Minutes are broadcast nationally each month and count in broadcasters’ log books as 150% Canadian content.