Everything about Reality, Lifestyle & Documentary, eh?

APTN premieres new 13-part series Spirit Talker

From a media release:

Spirit Talker is an emotional documentary series that follows Mi’kmaq medium Shawn Leonard as he travels throughout Atlantic Canada and connects people with their loved ones in the spirit world. Throughout the 13-part series, Shawn uses his unique ability to bring hope, healing and closure to hundreds of people.

During each half-hour episode, Shawn will visit a new First Nation community to perform a live show followed by powerful one-on-one readings with two individuals. Shawn is also on a journey to reconnect with his Mi’kmaq heritage, so in each community he’ll learn about the local history, participate in cultural events and practice traditional skills.

Spirit Talker is a co-production between Tell Tale Productions Inc. and Rebel Road Films. The series received financial support from the Canada Media Fund, The Nova Scotia Film & TV Production Incentive, and Federal Tax Credits.

Spirit Talker will have its world broadcast premiere on Wednesday, February 19, at 8 p.m. EST / 8 p.m. MST on APTN.


Preview: Kortney and Dave pay it forward in Making it Home

I can’t help but like Kortney and Dave Wilson. They’re fun, don’t take things too seriously and they know their stuff. It’s served them well through shows like Masters of Flip and Music City Fix.

Now the duo is back with a brand-new program. Debuting Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on HGTV Canada, the exceptionally long-titled Making it Home with Kortney & Dave finds the pair in the Greater Toronto Area, helping families upgrade while keeping within tight budgets. It’s all about paying it forward and these two are ready to do it.

In the debut, Kortney and Dave are tasked with helping Michael and Elizabeth work on their home, which just happens to be Michael’s childhood house. That means plenty of 80s styles that have to go out the window in favour of an open, bright concept. Add in a mother-in-law, kids and oft-visiting in-laws … the house needs some major space re-jigging. And, with just over $100,000 budget, Kortney and Dave can’t do a full-on makeover.

In no time at all sledgehammers are swinging, dust is puffing about and the seven-week renovations are underway. The results are, as usual, stunning. But they’re also entirely within reach for a typical homeowner. In Making it Home, Dave and Kortney are eschewing the extravagance for the practical, the outlandish for the informative. And it’s just as entertaining as anything other series they’ve done.

Making it Home with Kortney & Dave airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on HGTV Canada.

Image courtesy of Corus Entertainment.


Makeful TV launches Landscape Artist of the Year Canada, a new competition series hosted by Sook-Yin Lee

From a media release:

Following Sky Arts UK’s best-performing, non-scripted series of all time, Landscape Artist of the Year, the highly-anticipated Canadian adaptation, brings together 18 of the country’s best professional and amateur artists alongside 50 wildcard hopefuls to compete for a chance to be crowned Landscape Artist of the Year Canada (4 x 60’). Hosted by Sook-Yin Lee, the all new original series sees the artists have just four hours to create a landscape masterpiece. The winning artist will not only be crowned Landscape Artist of the Year Canada, but will also walk away with a $10,000 cash prize and will have their artwork on display at the prestigious McMichael Canadian Art Collection – home to some of Canada’s most iconic landscape art. The world broadcast premiere of Landscape Artist of the Year Canada airs Sundays at 9 pm ET/PT, starting February 16, exclusively on Makeful during the channel’s eight-week free preview event running from Feb. 3 to April 5 across Canada.

Each episode of Landscape Artist of the Year Canada travels to breathtaking and truly Canadian backdrops, from Muskoka’s picturesque Lake Rousseau to a rural country farm in Barrie. Two winners from each location will go on to compete in the final. However, these artists aren’t the only ones trying to impress the judges. The competition also sees 50 more artists descend onto each location to try their luck as wildcards, and if any catch the judges’ eye, they too have a chance to compete in the final.

Alongside the host Sook-Yin Lee, the four-part series sees expert judges Marc Mayer, former Director of the National Gallery of Canada, and award-winning artist and educator, Joanne Tod, determine the winners of each location until only one artist remains.

Using their own material and style, the artists have just four hours to create their own rendition of the landscape before them.  From oil paint to acrylic, collage work to mixed media, the artwork is as diverse as the artists themselves.

Landscape Artist of the Year Canada is produced by marblemedia in association with Blue Ant Media and CBC.  Based on the UK format, it is distributed by Banijay Rights, and was originally produced by Storyvault Films. Following the world premiere on Makeful this February, CBC will also air the series later this year.

Meet the 18 chosen artists competing for the title of Canada’s Best Landscape Artist.

Episode 1 – Airing Sunday, Feb. 16 at 9pm ET/PT
Denise Antaya, Kingsville, ON
Laura Zerebeski, Vancouver, BC
Marissa Sweet, Oshawa, ON
Megan Hazen, Toronto, ON
Phil Irish, Elora, ON
Tosh Jeffrey, Toronto, ON

Episode 2 – Airing Sunday, Feb. 23 at 9pm ET/PT
Andrew Cheddie Sookrah
, Toronto, ON
Anna Kutishcheva, Oakville, ON
Beckett Pura, York, ON
Colin Davis, North Bay, ON
Deborah Danelley, Winnipeg, MB
Ian McLean, Bright’s Grove, ON

Episode 3 – Airing Sunday, March 1 at 9pm ET/PT
Elzbieta Krawecka
, Toronto, ON
Jeff Wilson, Vancouver, BC
Kylee Turunen, Port Alberni, BC
Mackenzie Brown, Edmonton, AB
Nadine Prada, Toronto, ON
Ron Kuwahara, Halifax, NS


Skindigenous debuts Season 2 Jan 21 on APTN

From a media release:

Nish Media launches the 2nd season of its 13-episode documentary series Skindigenous, which explores Indigenous tattooing traditions around the world. The English version premieres Tuesday, January 21 at 8:30 p.m. ET on aptn hd & aptn e and 8:30 p.m. MT on aptn w.
A Dene version will also be broadcast on APTN.

Skindigenous 2 explores Indigenous tattooing traditions around the world from Canada to the US through Asia, Africa and Europe to New Zealand. Each episode dives into a unique Indigenous culture to discover the tools and techniques, the symbols and traditions that shape their tattooing art. In this series, the art of tattoo becomes a lens for exploring some of the planet’s oldest cultures and their unique perspectives on life, identity, and the natural world. Among ancient cultures, tattooing was only practiced by those with special standing in the community. Today, modern day tattoo artists use their art to re-connect with the heritage of their ancestors and to ensure that their stories are not lost. The series celebrates both ancient and modern tattooing techniques. Many are reviving or assuring the continuation of traditional techniques such as skin stitch or hand poke. Others aim to introduce their culture to the people around them.

Skindigenous 2 visits tattoo artists in LeBret, Sask., Kahnawake, Que., Nimkii, Northern Ontario, Haida Gwaii, B.C., Iqaluit, Nunavut, New Mexico, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, India, Taiwan, Tunisia and New Zealand. Here are a few examples of the artists being profiled:
Kanen’tó:kon Hemlock from Kahnawà:ke, Que. has been helping to revive tattooing traditions that were lost as a result of colonization. In the first episode of the series, he invites us to witness the first tattooing in a longhouse in roughly 300 years.

Stephanie Big Eagle of New Mexico is a traditional hand poke tattoo artist, who weaves Indigenous activism into her designs and became a prominent figure in the Dakota pipeline protests, where her thunder hawk hand poke design became a symbol of the standoff.

Métis artist Audie Murray grew up in Regina and Lebret, Sask. She works closely with traditional Cree tattoos and Michif visual culture and uses both hand poke and skin stitching methods.

The accompanying Skindigenous app on the series website gives Indigenous tattoo artists from around the world a forum to record and view their tattoo art.

The series was directed by Nish Media producer Jason Brennan and five other directors, including 4 female directors. Jason, a member of the First Nations community of Kitigan Zibi, has produced shows for APTN, CBC, Radio-Canada, Ici ArtTV, Canal D, TV5 and CBC Docs, including the seventh season of the Indigenous youth hockey show Hit The Ice. The series’ remaining directors are: Abenaki/Mohawk Writer/Director/Producer Angie-Pepper O’Bomsawin (Award-winning Mohawk Girls, APTN’s Hit The Ice 7, CBC Kids Cultural Capsules), award-winning film and television director, editor and cameraman Randy Kelly; Mohawk Producer/Writer/Director Roxann Whitebean (Mohawk Girls, Raven’s Quest, “Top 25” in Diversity of Voices at Banff Festival), Mohawk filmmaker Courtney Montour (Flat Rocks, APTN’s award-winning Sex Spirit Strength and Working It Out Together) and filmmaker Sara Ben-Saud (Mina, presented at TIFF).

About Nish Media
The series is produced by Nish Media, a multi-award-winning production company based in the Ottawa-Gatineau area. Over the past years, producer Jason Brennan has produced over 220 hours of television for various networks such as APTN, CBC, Radio-Canada, Ici ArtTV, Canal D, TV5 and CBC Docs, including Mouki, Wapikoni, La Fosse aux tigres and seven seasons of Hit The Ice, nominated in prestigious television festivals including the Banff World Media Festival and Italy’s FICTS. Its first feature film, Le Dep, was selected to play in several film festivals including the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic, the Vancouver Film Festival, the Raindance Film Festival, ImagineNative and the American Indian Film Festival. Filmmaker Sonia Bonspille Boileau’s new feature film, Rustic Oracle was presented in several festivals over the last few months. Nish Media currently has several TV projects in the works, including Season 3 of Skindigenous, the dramatic miniseries Pour toi Flora as well as the documentary Non réclamé.


High Arctic Haulers: “The work they do is so necessary and important”

Last week, I wrote a preview about the debut of High Arctic Haulers. The documentary series, broadcast Sundays at 8 p.m. on CBC, spotlights the captains and crews of ships delivering supplies to communities in Canada’s far north, as well as the people who rely on those supplies to arrive.

It turns out I previewed the wrong episode. Networks swap episodes all the time, and that was the case with High Arctic Haulers. The bad news? Anyone who read last week’s story and tuned into the debut was probably a little confused what they watched didn’t match what I wrote. The good news? It gave me the opportunity to cover the show again, this time by chatting with High Arctic Haulers‘ director and production consultant, Indigenous filmmaker Kelvin Redvers.

You grew up not only hearing the stories but also witnessing these ships coming in, right?
Kelvin Redvers: Sort of. The community that I grew up in was one of the starting points for some of the deliveries that went to the Arctic. And so that company doesn’t exist anymore, called NTCL. But it was a main industry in my town, which was the summer deliveries to the Arctic community. When I was a teenager, I’d actually done some documentary work on the boats that deliver up to the Arctic and I’ve always been amazed at the story. The work that they do is so necessary and important and, often, southerners know very little about this mode of delivery and actually just very little about the north in general.

It’s so foreign for someone living in Toronto to learn what these communities really rely on and if the weather’s bad, maybe they don’t get this stuff.
KR: It’s full of little small things as well too. What I love about the show is each episode kind of opens up a new layer of the complexity of challenges that we wouldn’t ever really think about. There are just so many different aspects to what these ships do and what makes it challenging that this format of having seven episodes is really fantastic. Each one opens up a new puzzle that these crew members have to solve. I love watching people who are really good at their job have to solve very difficult challenges.

What are some of the specific challenges that you had to deal with, with regard to equipment or production or weather just wreaking havoc?
KR: The production team, the team in the office figuring out logistics, had some of the hardest jobs out there in media because everything would change constantly. From day to day, even within a day, there’d be changes in terms of weather, in terms of when a ship is due to arrive. At one point we had, I think, 25 crew members spread out across five different communities in the Arctic.

And in each of those places, there are flight delays. Sometimes a bag doesn’t come in. There was a team that got stuck in for, I think, four or five days. I was stuck trying to get to Cape Dorset because there were flight delays there. Everything would change constantly. We sort of had to be really nimble and in the show you see the ship’s crew having to make decisions about where to go and what they can do based on the weather.

Even with all those challenges, anytime footage came back to the production office, it was emotional, it was moving, it was funny. It had all the elements that you would need under some of the most incredible pressures that you could ever face in a documentary series.

Can you give me a little bit of background on We Matter?
KR: My sister and I started, back in 2016, a nonprofit designed to support Indigenous youth who are going through mental health issues. And one of the main reasons is there is a lot of mental health challenges for Indigenous young people across Canada, the First Nation community and Inuits. And one of the reasons we started that was because of our own experiences being Indigenous folks growing up in the North, feeling that there weren’t many resources for Indigenous youth, but also there just weren’t many portraits of positive Indigenous role models in the media generally.

We never got to watch ourselves on TV in dramas or even the superheroes. The organization uses videos, predominantly on social media, of people talking about mental health issues and talking about positivity, overcoming challenges.

I think that affects some of the work that I do in media. And I think the sort of crossover between what this show does is that it really does present Indigenous folks, Indigenous young people, and Northerners in such a positive, inspirational way. In the premiere episode, one of the main stories is these Inuit high schoolers learning how to build kayaks and they are so excited about building kayaks and bringing in some of the materials that they need. Through the stories of what it takes to get material out, you also get to spend time with these young people and hear their humour and learn a little bit about them and see them on screen and their excitement and happiness to get these materials.

And I think that that has an impact in our country, generally, both for Indigenous folks to get to see ourselves in our homes and in our areas presented in such a positive way. But also it helps people in the suburbs or in Toronto to see a different side that you might not normally see in a news article or something more negative slanted and at the same time it’s also just a part of this incredible story that’s exciting and interesting in itself. It brings people to the table because the stories are so captivating. Then along the way, we’re teaching Canadians about themselves, showing others that yes, this is a part of your country. These are people who are contributing to what it means to be a Canadian in unique and interesting ways and really powerful ways.

High Arctic Haulers airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.