HISTORY

The Winnipeg Film Group was formed in 1974 as a direct result of the Canadian Film Symposium at the University of Manitoba, an annual event held to critically discuss and screen independent Canadian film and filmmaking.

The Winnipeg Manifesto was signed by all filmmakers in attendance, including Denys Arcand, Don Shebib and documentary filmmaker Colin Lowe. The statement began, “We, the undersigned filmmakers, wish to voice our belief that the present system of film production / distribution / exhibition works to the extreme disadvantage of the Canadian filmmaker.”

During this symposium, several local independent filmmakers banded together to approach the government to assist with funding to form the Winnipeg Film Group. The goal was to pool resources creatively to assist in making independent films. Early Coordinator Leon Johnson said, “We had to start with nothing. There was a lot of struggle. People had to get to know one another, we were all very individualistic.”

Over the next thirty-five years, the members of the Winnipeg Film Group did indeed get to know one another and collectively developed an international reputation for creating daring and original films that would screen at Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Rotterdam and Clermont-Ferrand, among other prestigious international festivals, and win countless prestigious awards - alongside screening at our very own Cinematheque in the heart of Winnipeg.

Historical Highlights

1974

  • The Winnipeg Film Group is founded

1976

  • Rabbit Pie marks the first completed film of the Winnipeg Film Group

1979

  • Alan Pakarnyk's Day Dream is completed, and wins awards in Chicago, New York and Ann Arbor

1980

  • You Laugh Like a Duck is the first co-production between the Winnipeg Film Group and the Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative

1981

  • The Winnipeg Film Group begins distributing independent films

1982

  • Initiated by past WFG Executive Director Merit Jenson Carr, our Cinematheque program begins in the fall of 1982, screening at the NFB's Cinema Main

  • The Winnipeg Film Group moves to 88 Adelaide Street

1984 

  • John Paizs' The Three Worlds of Nick is the WFG's first film to be screened at Toronto's Festival of Festivals

  • The First Film Fund program is established

1986

  • Greg Hanec's Downtime is screened at the Berlin International Film Festival

1986

  • The Winnipeg Film Group in its entirety (including Cinematheque) moves into its current location in the Artspace Building at 100 Arthur Street

1987

  • There is record-breaking attendance at the our Cinematheque for John Paizs' Crime Wave

1988

  • Guy Maddin's Tales from The Gimli Hospital premieres

1989

  • Three WFG members are nominated for Genie Awards: Ed Ackerman for Primiti Too Taa, Lorne Bailey for The Milkman Cometh, and Guy Maddin for Tales From The Gimli Hospital

1991

  • Guy Maddin's Archangel is voted Best Experimental Film by the U.S. National Society of Film Critics

1992

  • Shereen Jerrett's Dog Stories premieres at the Sydney International Film Festival in conjunction with a 17-film Winnipeg Film Group retrospective

1993

  • Several Winnipeg Film Group directors and alumni are featured in the Canadian retrospective at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, France. Norma Bailey, Guy Maddin and John Paizs' work subsequently tours Europe

  • Watershed Media Trust of Bristol, England, hosts an eight-city, four-film tour of work from the Winnipeg Film Group

  • The Winnipeg Film Group's first German intern, Dirk Schwipper from Stuttgaart, spends six months in Winnipeg and directs Taken for a Ride

  • The Winnipeg Film Group, in partnership with Video Pool, establises RE:VISIONS - The Winnipeg Women's Film and Video Festival

  • The Canadian Film and Televisoin Producers Association gives the Winnipeg Film Group a lifetime achievement award

1995

  • The Winnipeg Film Group publishes Dislocations as part of its 20th Anniversary celebration program

  • Guy Maddin's Odilon Redon receives the NFB John Spotton Award at the Toronto International Film Festival

1996

  • Jeff Erbach's Soft Like Me is screened at the Toronto International Film Festival 

  • The Winnipeg Film Group, together with Video Pool, hosts the bi-annual conference of the Independent Film and Video Alliance of Canada

1997

  • The Manitoba Motion Picture Industry Association's Blizzard Award Winners: Carole O'Brien's Motus Maestro for Best Short Drama, Shawn Dempsey & Lorri Millan's A Day in the Life of a Bull-Dyke win Best Experimental, Bob Huculak & William Hahn's Merwinsville wins Best Student Film, and John Paizs' Crime Wave wins Best Film of the Decade

1998

  • Canal+ buys Jeff Erbach's Soft Like Me for European broadcast

1999

  • Several Winnipeg Film Group films and filmmakers are honoured with The Manitoba Motion Picture Industry Association's Blizzard Awards

  • Canal+ buys Gold Wilding's Rapture for broadcast in France, and becomes the first film supported by the Winnipeg Film Group to be part of the Cannes International Film Festival

  • Jeff Erbach is selected at the 1999 Artist-in-Residence

  • The Winnipeg Film Group celebrates its 25th anniversary

  • Cinematheque presents the Canadian theatrical premiere of John Paizs' Top of the Food Chain

2000

  • Twenty-nine films carried through our distribution catalogue are screened at La Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris as part of retrospective of Western Canadian Film

  • The Winnipeg Film Group tours a package of films to South America

2001

  • The Winnipeg Film Group receives a Blizzard Award for its contribution to Manitoba filmmaking

  • There are two major Film Group retrospectives in Canada, in Regina and Montreal

  • Sean Garrity's Inertia (produced by Brendon Sawatzky) is named Best Canadian First Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival

  • Deco Dawson's film(dzama) wins Best Short at the Toronto International Film Festival


  • Guy Maddin's Heart of the World, commissioned by the Toronto International Film Festival for the 25th Anniversary Gala, is named Best Experimental Film by critics on two continents.

2002

  • Matt Holm's Spring Chickens screens at the Toronto International Film Festival 

  • Sean Garrity's Buenos Aires Souvenir screens at the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival

2003

  • The International Film Festival Rotterdam screens a retrospective of Guy Maddin's work

  • Deco Dawson's The Fever of the Western Nile screens at the Toronto International Film Festival

  • Robert Pasternak's first film The Affirmation of Jimmy Brown, screens at the Venice International Film Festival before Guy Maddin's The Saddest Music in the World

  • Multiple Winnipeg Film Group members win at the 2003 Blizzard Awards, including Brendon Sawatzky, John Barnard, Deco Dawson, Cecilia Araneda and Bevan Klassen

2004

  • Jennifer Bisch's first film, The Arousing Adventures of Sailor Boy, is screened at the New Director's / New Films Series in New York

  • Solomon Nagler is selected as the 2004 Artist-in-Residence

  • The Winnipeg Film Group celebrates its 30th Anniversary with the creation of a six-part historical DVD collection. The first in the series - The Sensationalists of the 90's - is released

2005

  • Carole O'Brien is selected Artist-in-Residence 

2006

  • Guy Maddin is the recipient of the Manitoba Arts Council's Arts Award of Distinction; at the awards ceremony, he singles out the Winnipeg Film Group for its contribution to his career 


  • Ou est Maurice? by Alek Rzeszowski and Matthew Rankin, Elizabeth Short by Deco Dawson and Brand Upon The Brain! by Guy Maddin screen at the Toronto International Film Festival 

  • The  Winnipeg Film Group, in partnership with Video Pool and Urban Shaman Gallery, hosts the bi-annual conference of the Independent Media Arts Alliance of Canada

2007

  • The Winnipeg Film Group's 30th Anniversary Film Commissions have their world premiere at a sold-out screening at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. The commissioned films include: Time Away (Carole O'Brien), Man of the Northwest (Matthew Holm), Odin's Shield Maiden (Guy Maddin), Automoto (Neil and Cathy McInnes) and The Last Moment (Deco Dawson)


  • Dave Barber, the Winnipeg Film Group's Programming Coordinator, is recipient of the Winnipeg Arts Council's first-ever Making a Difference Award. This award celebrates the contribution of an artist, arts administrator or arts organization to the growth and development of the arts in Winnipeg

  • Filmmaker Paula Kelly is selected as the City of Winnipeg's Artist-in-Residence


  • A record five works by Winnipeg Film Group members – and all created with the support of the Winnipeg Film Group – are selected for screening at the Toronto International Film Festival: Deco Dawson's The Last Moment, Sean Garrity's ReOrder, Noam Gonick's Wildflowers of Manitoba, Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg, and Neil McInnes and Cathy McInnes' Automoto

  • Guy Maddin wins the Best Canadian Feature Film award at the Toronto International Film Festival, for My Winnipeg

2008

  • The Winnipeg Film Group celebrates the 25th anniversary of its Cinematheque, and begins these celebrations by commissioning 25 short films by filmmakers with strong ties to Manitoba, including Jeffrey Erbach, Solomon Nagler and Heidi Phillips


  • The Winnipeg Film Group's second German Intern, Martin Knipsel, makes his first short film while he is here; Welcome to Winnipeg: A German Downtown Guide (co-directed with Aaron Zeghers) premieres at the Gimli Film Festival

  • Cattle Call, by Mike Maryniuk and Matthew Rankin, is selected for screening at the Toronto International Film Festival

  • Danishka Esterhazy receives the Kodak New Vision Mentorship Award at the Crystal Awards in Toronto, which is given annually to one promising Canadian female director
 
  • The Winnipeg Film Group initiates the Gimme Some Truth documentary forum series.

2009

  • Carole O'Brien's Going going gone, one of the 25 short films commissioned by the Winnipeg Film Group in honour of Cinematheque's 25th anniversary, is selected for screening at the International Film Festival Rotterdam


  • Darryl Nepinak's Zwei Indianer Aus Winnipeg, commissioned by Toronto's imagineNATIVE festival and produced with the support of the Winnipeg Film Group, is selected for screening at the Berlinale

  • Cattle Call, by Mike Maryniuk and Matthew Rankin, is selected for screening at Sundance and SXSW; it is the recipient of the Best Experimental Short Award at SXSW 

  • IKWÉ, by Caroline Monnet - a film created through our first Mosaic Women's Film Project - is selected for screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, joining Guy Maddin's Night Mayor, a short created to honour the NFB's 70th anniversary.
 
  • The Winnipeg Film Group celebrates its 35th anniversary with the release of the anthology PLACE: 13 Essays, 13 Filmmakers, 1 city, reflecting on the careers of 13 independent Winnipeg filmmakers who have worked in the feature form.

2010

  • Filmmakers Jaimz Asmundson, Jeffrey Erbach and Danishka Esterhazy complete a two week international exchange residency in Cologne, Germany, supported by the resources of the Kölner Filmhaus.
  • In conjunction with the National Arts Centre the Winnipeg Film Group commissions Guy Maddin to create a new live soundtrack for his iconic first feature film, Tales from the Gimli Hospital. It premieres in Ottawa in June 2011 at Prairie Scene.

2011

  • After several years of planning and fundraising our Distribution Department completes the construction of a 200 sq foot temperature and humidity controlled vault to store our 2000+ pieces of film and tape media.

2012

  • The Winnipeg Film Group partners with CFMDC and www.fringeonline.ca to support ten prairie filmmakers to create their own websites. The filmmakers supported are Deco Dawson, Danishka Esterhazy, Paula Kelly, Caroline Monnet, Winston Washington Moxam, Solomon Nagler, Darryl Nepinak, Carole O’Brien, Heidi Phillips, and Matthew Rankin.
  • The Winnipeg Film Group releases the final compilation DVD of a six-DVD series, originally created to celebrate our 30th Anniversary in 2004. The final DVD – The New Wave: The First Decade in a New Century – triggers the release of a Boxed Set, WFG / 33, containing all six DVDs.
  • The Production Centre constructs a new Digital Drop-In Lab and Editing Suites.

2013

  • The Cinematheque celebrates its 30th anniversary with 30 special screenings throughout the year.
  • We release No Man Can Define Me, a compilation DVD and catalogue celebrating the cinematic work of Winston Washington Moxam (1963-2011) and launch a four city screening tour with curator Scott Birdwise.