Back to Africa

Back to Africa

Toronto: Even at the best of times the words ‘breakthrough Soviet medicine’ couldn’t be spoken with a straight face, but that could change when The Killer Cure goes to air on CBC. The doc by Toronto’s White Pine Pictures (Arctic Dreamer, The Anatomy of Burlesque) was in Tbilisi, Georgia last fall looking into bacteriophage, an alternate treatment for infections pioneered by the USSR that stands to improve on the failing fortunes of antibiotics.

‘The people there are so well trained, people forget about that. They’re incredibly astute at what they do,’ says director and White Pine principal Lindalee Tracey. Her footage is now in post with editor Dave Kazala (The Anatomy of Burlesque). Tracey produces with her partner-in-docs Peter Raymont and Emmanuel Laurent of Films a Trois in Paris.

The $560,000 pic is a treaty copro with France. It will also air on France 2 and Discovery Health Canada. Funding also came from CTF.

White Pine is now prepping Shake Hands with the Devil, a TV hour about Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire’s harrowing experience as head of the UN mission to Rwanda. Raymont directs this one, and will be in the central African nation with Dallaire until June, revisiting sites and victims of the 1994 genocide. Preliminary shoots also took place in Tanzania. The $500,000 pic is a reworking of Dallaire’s book of the same name, backed by CBC, Radio-Canada and a ‘big chunk’ from the Rogers Documentary Fund. The newly formed Halifax Film Company is in development on an MOW based on the same source material.

Raymont and Tracey are also prepping Herschel Island: Sodom of the Arctic. Herschel, expected to lens this fall for History Television, documents the wild ol’ days of a remote Canadian whaling town on a $500,000 budget, with help from CTF and Rogers Cable Network Fund. Raymont and Tom Bradford will direct. SEAN DAVIDSON

Masseurs and Monsters at Merit

Winnipeg: Winnipeg prodco Merit Motion Pictures, created by Merit Jensen-Carr in 1988, has a slate of innovative nonfiction programming in the works, including the second season of HGTV’s Recreating Eden, which combines the traditional biographic approach to documentary with the increasingly popular gardening lifestyle genre.

Season two of Recreating Eden started shooting June 12, 2003 and wrapped principal photography April 17. The series was filmed in B.C., Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with additional locations in Italy, Scotland, the U.S. and Bali. The first of 13 half-hours began airing on HGTV April 11.

Jensen-Carr produces and executive produces the international series, which explores the positive influence of gardens in people’s lives. The audience is invited into the garden sanctuaries of Canadians such as Marjorie Harris, editor-in-chief of Gardening Life Magazine, photographer Freeman Patterson and writer Wendy Thomas, as well as international subjects including New York landscape designer David Kamp and California artist Marcia Donahue.

The $940,000 series received funding from the CTF LFP and Manitoba Film & Sound, as well as provincial and federal tax credits. Additional writers include Anne Dawson and Bob Lower.

Merit also recently completed principal photography on Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer as Hero, a $316,000 one-hour documentary that examines the adventure of the aquatic experience through great swimmers and divers, from the ancient Greeks to twentieth century characters.

Inspired by Charles Sprawson’s book of the same title, the doc was filmed in New York, Turkey, Greece, Dover and California from Sept. 11, 2003 through to April 19.

The doc will air on TVO in Canada and ZDF in Germany, where it will premiere in July. The production was financed by the LFP, Manitoba Film & Sound and the Manitoba Arts Council, and received additional funding from the Saskatchewan Communications Network, Knowledge Network, CFCF Television and the IFC.

Currently in preproduction at Merit is the $320,000 doc series Controlling the Monster: Suffering in Silence (2 x 60), to be shot in Winnipeg and additional locations to be announced. Executive producer Jensen-Carr coproduces with Barbara Pritchard of People Box Pictures in Manitoba. Pritchard is also on board to write and direct.

The production, which provides an intense and disturbing look at anorexia by following a young man’s attempt to seek treatment for a disorder that is primarily looked upon as a women’s illness, has secured funding from Discovery Health and Life Network. Laura Bracken