Producer Profile: Mercury Films/Foundry Films/NFB (Canada)

Mercury Films/Foundry Films/NFB
April 1, 2007

Mercury Films/Foundry Films/NFB


One of the most internationally recognized efforts in this year’s G100 was Manufactured Landscapes. The brainchild of Mercury Media (company co-founder Jennifer Baichwal directed), Foundry Films and the National Film Board of Canada, this examination of industrialization demonstrates how the most powerful messages can be found in the most unassuming packages.

The film definitely resonated with realscreen readers: ‘Its disturbing portrait of industrialization, spectacular cinematography and the way it raises the issues continue to haunt my mind.’ Or: ‘A wonderful film that transcended the standard arts documentary and became something exceptional.’

Asked about choosing subjects, director Baichwal was philosophical: ‘Our films tend toward subjects with some kind of irreducible element that is filmic, that are best explored in a medium which combines images and text in time. If the ideas could be fully realized in a book, or photograph, or some other medium, then they don’t hold much interest for us. There has to be some kind of mystery as well – a meta-level problem that the film becomes a response to. Our Paul Bowles film is about the impossibility of biography. The Holier It Gets is about the perils of confessional work, and The True Meaning of Pictures is about issues of representation. Manufactured Landscapes, proceeding from Edward Burtynsky’s photographs, is about changing consciousness through witnessing the places we are all responsible for, but normally never get to see.’

And consciousness is being altered, notes Tom Perlmutter, DG, English programs at the NFB: ‘The film has connected strongly with audiences around the world because it so effectively matches an original cinematic approach with powerful environmental and political issues, without being didactic. I’m especially pleased that it has become a landmark cultural object for young people.’

Mercury Films

Recent titles: Manufactured Landscapes, The Hockey Nomad

Employees: 1

Hours this year: 1.5 to 7.5

Upcoming includes: Act Of God On The Physics and Metaphysics of Lightning (The Documentary Channel, Channel 4 and ARTE)

Foundry Films

Recent titles: Manufactured Landscapes

Employees: 2

Hours this year: 3

Upcoming includes: Act Of God (The Documentary Channel, C4, ARTE), King of Infinite Space (TV Ontario)

The National Film Board of Canada

Recent titles: Citizen Lambert, Le Blues de l’Orient

Employees: 478

Hours this year: approximately 100 productions

Upcoming includes: Confessions of an Innocent Man (with Paperny Films for CTV), The Dark Years (with Barna-Alpa Productions for History Television), Basement Tapes (with EyeSteel Film for The Documentary Channel), Up the Yangtze! (with EyeSteel Film for CBC/Radio-Canada, Nat Geo, PBS)

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