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
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.