About the DOC Institute
The DOC Institute is an initiative of the Documentary Organization of Canada, Toronto Chapter. After several vital Canadian programs for filmmakers closed their doors, DOC Toronto undertook extensive research and conducted interviews with documentary practitioners to determine what they needed to make their films, make connections and make it. The result of that research is the DOC Institute. With the aim of supporting doc-makers’ creative journeys, the DOC Institute is a hub for established and emerging voices in the non-fiction world. Through its program streams—the Masters Series, the Producers Exchange and DOC Connects—the DOC Institute offers essential professional development for documentary media artists of all levels.
About DOC Toronto
The Toronto Chapter of the Documentary Organization of Canada is the organization’s oldest and largest chapter. Formerly known as the Canadian Independent Film & Video Caucus, DOC Toronto began as an advocacy group in 1983. In its 30-year history, DOC Toronto conceived of the Hot Docs International Film Festival and Point of View Magazine, as well as successfully lobbied for the creation of Telefilm Canada’s documentary broadcast envelope. Today, DOC Toronto has over 350 active members—including award-winning directors, writers, editors, producers, cinematographers and researchers—forming the unified regional voice of the Documentary Organization of Canada.
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Ric Esther Bienstock is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker best known for her groundbreaking investigative documentaries. Her films have screened at over 60 international festivals and have aired on networks in over 50 countries. Her most recent feature length documentary, Tales From the Organ Trade, tackles the international black market trade in human organs. Narrated by David Cronenberg, the film was produced for HBO in the U.S. and Shaw Media and Canal D in Canada.
She has produced, written and directed a diverse range of acclaimed films including Sex Slaves (aka The Real Sex Traffic) (CBC, PBS Frontline, Channel 4) an expose into the trafficking of women from the former Soviet bloc into the global sex trade. Other films include the 3-part series Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour (CBC, TLC, Channel 4), The Sexual Century: The Money Shot, Boxing: In and Out of the Ring (A&E, TVOntario, Sky), Ebola: Inside an Outbreak (aka The Plague Fighters) (CBC, PBS Nova, Channel 4) and Ms. Conceptions (CBC, TLC). Her work has garnered numerous awards including a U.S. Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism, an Edward R. Murrow Award, a Dupont-Columbia University Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism, a British Broadcast Award for Best Documentary, a Royal Television Society Award, a nomination for a British Academy Award (BAFTA), two HOT DOCS Awards, two Gemini Awards, a Genie, a Cable Ace Award, two Gold Hugos from the Chicago Film Festival, a Distinguished Documentary Achievement Award from the IDA in Los Angeles, 2 Hot Docs Awards, 3 Gold World Medals from the New York Festivals, the Grand Prix at the Nyon International Film Festival in Switzerland and two Overseas Press Club of America Awards for her investigative documentaries.
She speaks three languages, none of which her children listen to.
Lalita is an award winning filmmaker and transmedia producer. Her work has been broadcast on all major networks and featured at film festivals around the world. Lalita’s documentaries are used extensively both in the Canadian and international educational market. Currently, she is executing multiple transmedia productions in partnership with award winning game producers, designers and developers. Lalita is a featured speaker at prestigious conferences and professional development events. She also chaired the steering committee of docSHIFT and DOCS IN CLASS two major flagship programs run by DOC Toronto.
Lalita was recently recognized with the Crystal Award for mentorship by WIFT-T. She has also been awarded the Dream-Catcher Award for using her craft to better humanity and is the recipient of the 2010 Reel World Trailblazer award.
Nadine Pequeneza is an award-winning Producer, Director and Writer best known for her observational films offering unique access to character-driven stories about social justice. With over 15 years international experience, she has multiple awards to her credit including; a Gold and Silver Hugo from the Chicago International Film Festival, a Golden Sheaf from the Yorkton Film Festival, and a Gold Panda from the Sichuan Festival in China. Nadine is a 4-time Canada Screen Award nominee in both directing and writing categories. Her work has broadcast in more than 50 countries on networks such as: CBC, PBS, A&E, Discovery Channel International, Global Television, History Television, and National Geographic.
Nicholas de Pencier is a director, producer, and director of photography specializing in documentary for the past 20 years. He is President of Mercury Films.
As both producer and DOP his credits include Let It Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles (Genie & Banff Rockie nominations, International Emmy in 1999). Also The Holier It Gets (Best Cultural and Best Independent at Hot Docs, 2000, Geminis for best writing, editing, and direction in a documentary series, nomination, Donald Brittain Award). In 2002 he produced and shot The True Meaning of Pictures (TIFF, Sundance, Best Arts Doc Gemini). This was followed in 2003 by Hockey Nomad (nominated for Banff Rockie, as well as three Geminis, won the Best Sports). He also co-directed, produced and photographed for TVOntario a series of 40 short profiles on artists who have received Ontario Arts Council grants over the past 40 years.
He produced Manufactured Landscapes (Chum City Award – best Canadian feature TIFF 2006, Genie for best Doc, distributed in 15 countries). He also directed and partially shot Four Wings and a Prayer (Grand Prix Pariscience, Banff Rockie best Wildlife and Natural History Program, Jules Verne Nature Award, Gemini nominations for Best Science, Cinematography and Direction, Emmy nomination for PBS NOVA version). He was producer and DOP on Act of God (opening night film, Hot Docs 2009). Among ongoing DOP work for docs and doc series on CBC, History, Discovery, National Geographic and many others, he has recently been shooting the documentary adaptation of Payback, Margaret Atwood’s Massey Lecture on debt which will be released theatrically in Canada in March 2012 and producing and shooting a feature doc on water with Edward Burtynsky.
Michael oversees Primitive Entertainment’s selection of projects and focuses on the many relationships with broadcasters, distributors, co-production partners, industry organizations and government agencies. Internationally, Michael has forged partnerships with co-producers and investors in Britain, Europe, Australia and Japan.
Michael is the Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary film festival. He is the Co‐Chair of the Toronto Chapter of the Documentary Organization of Canada; an industry group representing 700 documentary filmmakers across Canada. Michael has also served as the Documentary Producer Mentor at The Canadian Film Centre (CFC).
Recent awards include a Genie for Best Short Documentary, a Gemini for Best Performing Arts Series, a Genie for Best Feature Length Documentary, a Webby Award for Best Individual Documentary, the SXSW Interactive award for Activism, the Toyota Earth Grand Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival, multiple Pixie Awards for Animation and Effects, and an Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Nature Programming.
Elisa’s career began in Palermo Italy in the early 1990s, where her documentary and experimental work screened at International Kuzfimtage Oberhausen, Festival di Bellaria, and was broadcast by RAI and Channel4, among others.
In 2012, she completed her first feature-length documentary, Embracing Voices: The Woman Behind the Music of Jane Bunnett. She is currently in post-production on Driving with Selvi. Filmed over 10 years, Driving with Selvi tells the story of a former child bride who escaped her marriage to become South India’s first female taxi driver. Elisa has a particular interest in exploring non-traditional funding opportunities, having raised funds for Driving with Selvi with grants from federal, provincial and municipal arts councils, and American foundations such as Chicken & Egg Pictures, Fledgling Fund, Berth BRITIDOC Connect Fund, Women in Film Foundation, as well as crowd-funding through Indiegogo.
Elisa is the President of Eyesfull, a Toronto-based production company dedicated to making non-fiction stories with social relevance.
Gita Hosek has been around the film, television and radio business all of her life. After completing her M.F.A from the Academy of Film & Television Art (Documentary) she worked for the National TV in her native Czechoslovakia. Later on she moved to Canada and re-established herself in the field she had worked in, loved and knew – documentary filmmaking. While working briefly for TVO she opened her own production company (together with her husband George, a DOP). Gita produced and directed several documentaries and series’ that were broadcast on CBC, TVO, Vision TV, Life Network and OLN. Her passion lies in telling human stories of hope that involves spirituality and art. For several years now Gita has been producing exclusively for Salt and Light Television. Some of the latest productions include: the feature length documentary This Side of Eden – a poetic, compelling and richly intimate portrait of the Benedictine Monks living at Westminster Abbey in Mission, B.C. and Panes of Glory, a 4 part series revealing insights surrounding the beautiful stained glass windows of St. Peter’s Seminary in London, Ontario.
Michael McNamara lives in Toronto working as a filmmaker, screenwriter and director. In February 2002, he launched Markham Street Films with his partner Judy Holm, specializing in projects that are edgy, smart, provocative and funny. McNamara’s films include Radio Revolution – The Rise and Fall of The Big 8 (2004 Best History Program Gemini), The Life and Times of Robert Munsch and 100 Films & A Funeral, about the rise and fall of PolyGram Films. He wrote and directed Driven by Vision, a 17-part series on visionary outsider artists (Gemini for Best Direction in a Documentary Series). In 2011 he also won a best directing award for his feature-length documentary Acquainted With The Night. His recent films include Lights Out! for The Nature of Things, The F-Word: Who Wants to Be a Feminist? and Ice, Sweat and Tears for DocZone, as well as Fanboy Confessional, a six part documentary series produced for Space Television. He serves on the DOC Toronto chapter board and represents Toronto on the DOC National board. He served a full term as Chair of the Doc National Board and currently serves on the editorial committee of POV Magazine and the executive committee of the Hot Docs International Film Festival.
Rama Rau trained in films on one of the largest film sets in Mumbai, India. Now based in Toronto, Canada, her passion is creating films, TV and web programming that are cross-cultural and examine “the extraordinariness of ordinary lives”. Rama’s dramatic short film Aftermath, a poetic look at the terrorist attack in Mumbai, had its World Premiere at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival’s Court Metrages. Her feature documentary, The Market (2010) has most recently been nominated for two Canadian Screen Awards for 2013 – the Donald Brittain Award for Best Social Political Documentary and Best Original Music. Premiering at IDFA Amsterdam 2010, The Market is a never-before journey into the dangerous underworld of illegal international organ trade and was filmed across Canada and India over three intense years. Rama has won the Hot Docs Don Haig Award, the Stuttgart Best Director Award for Documentary, the Golden Panda for Best Director and the Tom Shoebridge Screenwriting Award, she’s received the ‘Filmmaker of the Year’ award by the Toronto Business Forum and has been named a Quebecor Fellow of DOC, Toronto.
Adam Shamoon joined DOC Toronto in 2012 after working in documentary production for six years. Mainly fulfilling associate producer and production manager positions, he has worked on one-offs, features and series for independent producers in both Canada and the United States, while also working on his own projects. Adam has designed and managed large-scale outreach campaigns for both theatrical and community screenings for linear documentary projects and their digital counterparts. His work is reflected in the Canadian features Living Downstream, The Ghosts In Our Machine, and the American limited series The Calling, which aired on PBS’ Independent lens across Canada and the United States. Prior to coming to documentary, Adam used films as outreach and engagement tools for issue-based non-profit organizations such as the Chicago Foundation for Women, where he also managed their largest-ever grantmaking program. Adam is a graduate of McGill University, where he completed his studies with distinction.
Nicole’s passion for story has inspired an intensive career spanning more than 15 years in media and production. Before entering the world of documentary, she honed her production skills as a line producer on two weekly television shows and in the U.S. corporate world, serving as senior editor for brands like General Mills, NASCAR, TD Ameritrade and Colgate-Palmolive. In 2012, she arrived in Canada with a clear vision to support stories that matter. She co-founded The Story Studio, a creative and educational studio with a mission to support aspiring doc filmmakers. Currently, she’s excited to be growing that passion and experience with The DOC Institute as the Events and Programs Associate.
Senaa Ahmad has been working in the film industry since 2011. As a publicist, she assisted on the campaigns for over 75 films, including Academy Award® nominees Brooklyn, Whiplash, and Theeb, Palme d’Or winners Amour and Dheepan, and CBC documentaries such as Milk and IF The Poet. In 2015, she served on the creative team for the second annual edition of the Niagara Film Festival, working closely with Bill Marshall, co-founder of TIFF.
Prior to working in publicity and marketing, Senaa worked as a freelance editor and story editor in narrative and documentary film, collaborating with award-winning filmmakers, non-profit organizations, and other local clientele, including Journalists for Human Rights and the City of Toronto. She first joined the DOC Institute team in 2016, and is thrilled to be on board as the Events and Programs Associate, with a special focus on the DOC Institute ON150 project.