Award-winning hot docs producer talks film at York

Award-winning Canadian filmmaker Silva Basmajian (right), the executive producer of the National Film Board of Canada’s Ontario Centre, is the featured guest Feb. 23 at The Independents, a monthly series of screenings and discussions on independent Canadian cinema presented by York University’s Department of Film.

An alumna of York’s Glendon College, Basmajian (BA ’74) will discuss the mandate of the National Film Board (NFB), focusing on its production program for independent filmmakers. Following her presentation, there will be a screening of some of the NFB’s recent films. Louise Dompierre, president and CEO of the Art Gallery of Hamilton and a member of the NFB’s board of directors, will host the presentation and moderate the discussion following.

Basmajian has been a producer, writer and researcher at the NFB’s Ontario Centre for more than 20 years. Throughout her career, she has received numerous honours, accolades and awards, and her work has been featured on television networks and festivals around the world.

She has produced more than 50 award-winning productions, including My Father’s Camera by York alumna Karen Shopsowitz, which won a 2001 Peabody Award. That same year, she received the Outstanding Achievement Award for her work from Women in Film and Television – Toronto. Her feature-length documentary, The Last Round: Chuvalo vs. Ali, won a Special Jury Award at the 2003 Hot Docs Film Festival and garnered a 2004 Genie nomination.

At the 2000 Gemini Awards, Basmajian added the prestigious Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary for Deep Inside Clint Star to her already bulging trophy case, and then went on to take the Special Jury Prize at the Banff Television Festival for Rape: A Crime of War.

Her most recent production credits include Insomnia, directed by Annette Mangaard; Pegi Nicol Mcleod, directed by Michael Osteroff; The Take, a co-production with Klein Lewis Productions and Barna Alper; and The Call by Elizabeth St-Phillip, winner of the 2003 NFB Reel Diversity Competition.

Since its creation in 1939, the NFB has produced more than 10,000 films, and won over 4,000 awards, including 10 Oscars. As Canada’s public film producer, the NFB produces and distributes audiovisual works with a unique Canadian perspective. Its numerous projects have helped the centre establish an international reputation for ground-breaking, edgy, socially aware cinema.

Basmajian’s presentation will take place Thursday evening at 7pm, in the Nat Taylor Cinema, N102 Ross Bldg., located on York’s Keele campus.

All presentations in The Independents series are free of charge and open to the public. For more information about this popular film event, contact Marcia Orlowsky in the Film Department at 416-736-5149 or

This article was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena in the Faculty of Fine Arts.