Catherine Olsen to exit CBC

Catherine Olsen (pictured), the executive producer of documentaries at CBC News Network, is to leave the Canadian pubcaster after more than 20 years.
May 6, 2015

Catherine Olsen , the executive producer of documentaries at CBC News Network, is to leave the Canadian pubcaster after more than 20 years.

The exec – who also serves as commissioning editor for CBC doc strand ‘The Passionate Eye’ – is exiting the CBC on June 30 to launch her own prodco, Passionate 4 Docs.

Olsen helped develop ‘The Passionate Eye’ 20 years ago, and also hosted the program for eight years. Films she has commissioned for the strand include Yung Chang’s Up the Yangtze, Peter Raymont’s Shake Hands with the Devil, Ric Bienstock’s Sex Slaves and John Zaritsky’s Wildhorse Redemption. Her recent international collaborations include India’s Daughter, Children on the Frontline, After The Wave, Pedophile Hunter and 112 Weddings.

Jenna Bourdeau

Jenna Bourdeau

A CBC spokesperson tells realscreen that, following Olsen’s departure next month, Jenna Bourdeau - who currently serves as senior director of acquisitions – is to take the lead on documentary acquisitions for ‘The Passionate Eye,’ which is to continue on CBC News Network.

Bourdeau was brought on board in November from Canada’s Proper Rights to lead the pubcaster’s acquisitions strategy.

Going forward, Olsen is to work as an international documentary consultant, freelance executive producer and editorial coach.

“I like the word coach better than consultant as it feels more collaborative,” Olsen tells realscreen over email. “I want to both give back what I’ve learned, but also re-engage myself in the creative process, and work more intimately with filmmakers.”

Olsen – who is a mainstay at documentary forums at Hot Docs and IDFA – will continue moderating and mentoring at such events. This month, she will give a training workshop at Docs Barcelona, and will also serve as a decision maker at Sheffield Doc/Fest’s MeetMarket next month, where she’ll be looking for projects for Passionate 4 Docs.

About The Author
Meagan Kashty is an associate editor of realscreen, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Meagan is an award-winning business journalist. Prior to joining the realscreen team, Meagan was online editor of Canadian Grocer, named Magazine of the Year at the 2015 Canadian Business Media Awards. She can be reached at, and you can follow her on Twitter @MegKashty