Tag Archives: Absolutely Quebec

Posted in TV

CBC’s Absolutely Quebec documentary series begins tonight

For the third year, CBC Montreal will be airing six one-hour documentaries produced by people in Quebec on Saturday nights this summer. It begins with 100% T-Shirt, a documentary on the T-shirt industry and culture, by Kaveh Nabatian, Saturday at 7pm. (It will be CBC Montreal’s second textile-based documentary in a year.)

As Absolutely Quebec project head Carrie Haber explains in this story, the documentary looks at where T-shirts come from, how they’re sold, and who wears them and why. It includes interviews with stars like Sugar Sammy, Tegan and Sara, and American Apparel founder Dov Charney (whose position at the company has since changed dramatically).

The series continues in the coming weeks with:

  • Maple Mayhem (July 26), a documentary on maple syrup and the great Quebec maple syrup heist of 2012
  • In the Key of Claire (Aug. 2), a documentary on a social worker at the MUHC HIV Clinic. This was originally supposed to air last year, but was held back after the story developed and the filmmaker wanted to include that in the documentary.
  • Hi Ho Mistahey! (Aug. 23), a 2013 NFB documentary by Quebecer Alanis Obomsawin on teens from Attawapiskat fighting for First Nations education
  • Soccer City Montreal (Aug. 30), a documentary on Brazilian, Argentine, Spanish and Italian culture during the World Cup that just ended. “It’s really just a soccer-flavoured look at these communities,” Haber explains. This one-hour show in four acts (one for each community) is adapted from a series produced for the Bell Local community television service. The documentary is still being worked on, but a final cut is due Aug. 15. Haber said this was taking a chance on a first-time filmmaker, but she’s optimistic her risk will be rewarded.
  • In Search of Dan Cooper (Sept. 6), a documentary on “a long-lost Canadian war icon”, a Canadian comic-book hero popular in Europe but virtually unknown here.

The two-week break there is because of CBC TV commitments to air the Rogers Cup on Aug. 9 and the FIFA women’s U-20 World Cup on Aug. 16.

Unlike in previous years, it doesn’t look like these documentaries will get more than one airing on their debut weekend. But they will be available to watch online after they air, and some will likely get encore airings on CBC Montreal or nationally as part of the Absolutely Canadian series.

Meanwhile, an Absolutely Quebec documentary from last year, Legends of Magdalen, will get a national audience when it airs on CBC TV at noon on July 26. The well-produced documentary about searching for sunken ships near the Magdalen Islands was the highlight of last year’s crop. You can watch it online here.

Posted in Montreal, TV

Jeanette Kelly looks at Quebec textiles in half-hour documentary airing tonight

CBC’s Absolutely Quebec series apparently isn’t just a summer thing. As the documentaries that premiered this summer get a second airing on weekends while the broadcaster prepares a new local current affairs show set to begin next month, a new half-hour documentary has been added, and it’s airing tonight.

Looming Large is described by the CBC as “a look at innovations in Quebec textiles at the crossroads of business, art and technology” and a “unique documentary about the future of textile in Quebec.” You can see a 30-second promo for the show here.

It’s hosted by Jeanette Kelly, who hosts CBC Radio’s 5 à 6 on Saturdays and was also host of An Evening with Janina Fialkowska, the first of this year’s Absolutely Quebec specials. It’s directed by Carrie Haber, who produces the Absolutely Quebec series and told me this week she’s starting work on discovering next year’s batch.

The Looming Large documentary airs Thursday at 6:30pm, right after the evening news, on CBC Montreal. It repeats Sunday at 11:30pm

Posted in TV

Legends of Magdalen caps Absolutely Quebec’s 2013 season

When I chatted with Absolutely Quebec series producer Carrie Haber about her job, it was in the context of a story about the airing of the Parc Avenue Tonight special. But in discussing the series, it was clear there was another episode she seemed more excited about: Legends of Magdalen, a documentary about the hundreds of unexplored 19th-century shipwrecks near the Magdalen Islands.

That episode, the season finale for Absolutely Quebec, airs at 7pm on Saturday (and again at 3am Sunday) on CBC Montreal.

“It’s just spellbinding. It’s just a beautiful work about shipwrecks in the Magdalen Islands,” Haber told me.

She said the documentary came to her about a year ago. The film crew has been up to the islands three separate times to shoot, including going scuba diving. “They found a wreck that hadn’t been found before, dove down and discovered what was there. It’s a lovely reflection of what the Magdalen Islands is.”

This is the second year that Haber has been producing the Absolutely Quebec series for CBC Montreal. The Saturday evening one-hour specials, which run during the summer when there’s no hockey, are usually regional documentaries, but can include other types of programming as well, like Parc Avenue Tonight or the Short Stop series of short films. Haber’s involvement varies by the project, but usually involves dealing with the film’s producer to help them improve the story and then cut the resulting film down to 40 minutes for broadcast.

“My heart is in documentary after spending eight years at the NFB,” Haber said, while adding that she would like to see more drama and comedy on television that reflects the region. “Quebec has this opportunity of this multi-lingual multicultural place that it is, I think that’s great fodder for stories, and I don’t see that reflected.”

(You can read more about Haber’s views in the story I wrote for The Gazette.)

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Posted in My articles, Photos, TV

Photos: Behind the scenes at the Parc Avenue Tonight live taping

You might recall a few months ago I mentioned that CBC was going to record and air a special live-audience version of Dimitrios Koussioulas’s Mile End talk show Parc Avenue Tonight.

The show was recorded in front of a live audience on May 15 at Cabaret du Mile End. I was invited to witness the setup, and took a bunch of pictures. I talk a bit about the show for this story in Saturday’s Gazette, which discusses the state of local non-news television in English Montreal.

CBC Montreal presented Parc Avenue Tonight Live Saturday at 7pm as part of its Absolutely Quebec series of regional specials. You can watch it online if you missed it.
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Posted in Montreal, TV

CBC TV to air special episode of Parc Avenue Tonight

When Dimitrios Koussioulas, whose name I will one day learn how to write without having to copy and paste it, started his Mile End online talk show Parc Avenue Tonight, I thought to myself: This looks dirt cheap, but promising. This should be on actual TV.

Well, despite what can be said about our Toronto-controlled television networks that seem to have all but abandoned local programming, Koussioulas is being given his chance to be on Montreal television. In fact, he’s getting two, on two different stations.

A week after City announced that Koussioulas would be one of three hosts of a new weekly magazine show on local culture and lifestyle, CBC announced on Friday that it will be taping a special episode of his Parc Avenue Tonight show in front of a live audience and airing it this summer as part of its Absolutely Quebec regional series.

Absolutely Quebec is a summer series of (usually) one-hour specials that air Saturdays at 7pm during the summer (during hockey’s off-season). It is, for now at least, the only regional programming that airs on CBC television outside of the local newscasts. You can get an idea of what it’s like from last year’s shows.

Parc Avenue Tonight is an interview show in which Koussioulas speaks with fellow Mile Enders. Aside from its glorification of smoking, its canned audience applause and its strange love of bananas, it’s worth watching when it has a good guest. The episode above is an interview with Marianne Ackerman, an author, freelance writer and the person behind the Rover arts website. It showcases the solid (though modest) production values and Koussioulas’s warm and inviting personality.

The show’s live taping will happen May 15 at the Cabaret du Mile End (naturally), and will air on CBMT TV two months later, on July 13th. Ticket information and a copy of the press release are below:

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Posted in Montreal, TV

Absolutely Quebec: A taste of regional programming on CBC TV

For those (like me) who complain that there isn’t much local programming in English in Quebec outside of news broadcasts, a regional documentary and short film series is something to look forward to. This summer, CBC television presents Absolutely Quebec, a series of five one-hour documentaries and an hour of short films that reflect the anglophone community in Quebec.

The first episode, Hockey Migrations, aired last Saturday. It tells the story of a hockey tournament in Tasiujaq, an Inuit community near Ungava Bay. But it’s actually an inightful look into the culture of the region, how native communities are struggling with changes to their traditional way of life, and how hockey is a way to give kids something to do and keep them out of trouble. Its director, Tony Girardin, was interviewed on CBC Radio’s All in a Weekend on Saturday morning, and explains that the footage was actually shot seven years ago, but only edited into a documentary recently. (One of the elders interviewed in the documentary has since died.)

You can watch Hockey Migrations on CBC’s website.

“In Quebec, we have an incredibly rich history of storytelling and filmmaking,” Shelagh Kinch, the new Managing Director CBC Quebec, is quoted as saying in the press release. “CBC is proud to produce a series that highlights some of our province’s emerging filmmakers and also allows new audiences to enjoy these local stories.”

The rest of the series, which runs Saturdays at 7pm on CBMT (except Aug. 11, when CBC airs Rogers Cup tennis coverage), is as follows:

Sadly, Videotron’s on-screen listings list 7pm Saturday as being The Nature of Things, but tune in anyway. It’s one of the few chances you’ll have to watch that independently-produced local programming you complain never sees the light of day on local television.

Some of these episodes might end up being aired nationally as well, as part of the Absolutely Canadian series. But which of those will get national exposure (on CBC television, CBC News Network or the Documentary channel) and when that will be hasn’t been decided yet.