CBC commissions doc series on 1972 Canada/Russia hockey showdown

Summit Series
Summit 72 (working title) is set to premiere in the fall with support from Team Canada players.

CBC has commissioned a four-part documentary series on the epic 1972 Canada/Russia Summit Series hockey game, which hits its 50th anniversary in September.

Mercury Films’ Nicholas de Pencier will be showrunner and a producer on the 4 x 60-minute Summit 72 (working title), set to premiere in fall 2022 on CBC and the pubcaster’s Gem streaming service.

The team of writers and directors includes Dave Bidini, Robert MacAskill and Ravi Baichwal, who plan to tell the story through a modern lens and explore the game’s influence on Canadian national identity.

A CBC original documentary, Summit 72 is produced by Mercury Films in association with Impossible Objects. Robert MacAskill and Naveen Prasad also serve as producers, while Mercury Films’ Jennifer Baichwal and Impossible Objects’ Prasad serve as executive producers. The series is produced with the support of The Rogers Documentary Fund, The Rogers Cable Network Fund and The Canada Media Fund.

Summit 72 isn’t the only project on the Summit Series in the works. Last July White Pine Pictures and Adobe Productions International partnered on the feature documentary Ice-Breaker, set for release in fall 2022.

But Summit 72 is billed as the only documentary series with exclusive rights sanctioned and supported by 1972 Team Canada players, who went up against the then-Soviet Union team in an eight-game series held in Canada and Moscow the middle of the Cold War. A news release says Summit 72 is deemed the official 50th anniversary documentary by Team Canada players.

The series will have unrestricted access to the official game tapes and feature never-before-seen 16mm archival footage restored in 4K. Team Canada ’72 players will appear to talk about the eight-game showdown in which the Canadians ultimately emerged victorious when Paul Henderson scored the winning goal in the final seconds. Other participants in the doc series include hockey legends including Phil Esposito, Ken Dryden and Serge Savard.

A French-language version of Summit 72 will also be produced with distribution rights managed by Les Films Séville, an eOne company. A limited-edition collector’s box set of the series is planned for a 2022 holiday release by Unobstructed View, who will also handle international sales.

“The 72 Summit Series is in our DNA as a nation,” said de Pencier in a statement. “It was a life-altering experience for the players and their fans from both sides of the Iron Curtain, that changed the cultural, political, and sports landscapes in ways that no one could have foreseen at the time. It is a story that endures and needs to be told through the prism of the present day to understand what it meant, how it changed hockey, and how it changed Canada. I’m honoured to be working with some of the best creative minds in the country, and that the players have trusted us with their story.”

Photo credit:  Enhanced Photo from the original 16mm film of Team Canada’s winning goal. Courtesy Hockey Hall of Fame.