Docmakers honor Klinck

'Unsung hero' of research is first Canadian to take lifetime achievement honor at Focal Awards

Documentary researcher Elizabeth Klinck became the first Canadian to win a lifetime achievement award from the international archival footage industry on Wednesday, when Focal International, a trade organization representing footage archives and researchers around the world, honored her work at its annual awards gala in London.

‘It is extremely heartening that organizations such as Focal in the U.K. recognize and celebrate the importance of research and the contribution of researchers to the field of filmmaking,’ said Klinck, speaking to Playback Daily shortly before the win. The Focal Awards are a global competition celebrating achievements in the use of archival footage.

Despite living in the small town of Elmira, ON, Klinck has spent more than 25 years as an image researcher and clearance specialist for the international documentary community. She has worked for producers and broadcasters in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., including Granada Television and Carlton TV, on documentary projects that have earned Emmy, Gemini, Peabody and Academy Awards. Klinck herself received a 2006 Emmy nomination for her research on HBO’s Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She.

‘Elizabeth has been a creative force and a pillar of support for generations of experienced and emerging documentary directors and producers in Canada,’ says Bob Culbert, VP of documentaries for CTV. ‘She is one of the real unsung heroes of our industry.’

Klinck has taught at Ryerson University in Toronto and led workshops at conferences including History Makers, the Banff World Television Festival, and the World Congress of Science & Factual Producers. She also created a research award now handed out at the Yorkton Short Film & Video Festival, for which she serves on the board of directors.

Veteran journalist and documentarian Michael Maclear hopes that her recognition in Britain will lead to honors for research in this country.

‘The researcher is one of the most overlooked and underappreciated — yet one of the most vital people — on a documentary production,’ says Maclear. ‘It is ironic that Elizabeth is receiving this award from a British organization and we have nothing of its equivalent in Canada. However, if this country did have a lifetime achievement award in research, Elizabeth would be at the top of the list of nominees.’