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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.

1974

The Winnipeg Film Group is founded (incorporated on 27 Dec 1974)

1976

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

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1979

Day Dream

Film by: Alan Pakarnyk

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

1980

You Laugh Like a Duck, directed by Leon Johnson, 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 (now TIFF) 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

1993

Watershed Media Trust of Bristol, England, hosts an eight-city, four-film tour of work.

1993

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

1993

The Winnipeg Film Group, in partnership with Video Pool, establises RE:VISIONS – The Winnipeg Women’s Film and Video Festival

1993

The Canadian Film and Television Producers Association gives the Winnipeg Film Group a lifetime achievement award.

1995

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

1995

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

1996

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

1996

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’ Cri

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

1999

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

1999

The Winnipeg Film Group celebrates its 25th anniversary

1999

Jeff Erbach is selected as the 1999 Artist-in-Residence

1999

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

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

2000

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

2001

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

2001

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

2001

Deco Dawson’s FILM (dzama) wins Best Short at the Toronto International Film Festival

2001

Guy Maddin’s The 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

Matthew Holm’s Spring Chickens screens at the Toronto International Film Festival

2002

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

2003

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

2003

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

2003

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

2004

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

2004

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 90s – is released

2005

Carole O’Brien is selected as 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

2006

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

2006

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 McIn

2007

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

2007

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

2007

A record five works by Winnipeg Film Group members – 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

2007

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, Alison Davis and Heidi Phillips

2008

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

2008

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

2008

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

2008

The Winnipeg Film Group initiates the Gimme Some Truth documentary forum series.

2009

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

2009

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.

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

2009

Darryl Nepinak’s Zwei Indianer Aus Winnipeg, commissioned by Toronto’s imagineNATIVE film + media arts festival and produced with the support of the Winnipeg Film Group, is selected for screening at the Berlinale

2009

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

2010

Through the WFG, 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. We welcome and host several German artists later that year.

2010

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.

2012

The Production Centre constructs a new Digital Drop-In Lab and Editing Suites.

2012

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.

2013

The Cinematheque celebrates its 30th anniversary with 30 special screenings throughout the year.

2013

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.

2014

The Winnipeg Film Group turns 40!

2014

The Distribution Department publishes Finding Focus: Framing Canadian Métis and First Nations on Film, a resource guide and DVD designed to help High School educators utilize the wealth of creative short films made by talented independent filmmakers in Manitoba and across Canada that focus on Métis

2014

John Paizs’ 1985 classic feature film Crime Wave gets Digitally Restored and premieres at TIFF in September. The WFG hosts a reception honouring John and the film.

2014

We release the Indigenous Filmmakers Distribution Catalogue at imagineNATIVE in Toronto.

2015

The Women’s Film & Video Network is formed by the Winnipeg Film Group and has its first meeting in January. The Network is dedicated to supporting the women who work in film and video in Manitoba and to create a space for women to share stories and make connections.

2015

In May 2015, to celebrate our 40th anniversary we hosted a national forum, Reflecting Light, to explore how the landscape of Canadian cinema has developed over the past decades and how it is currently evolving.

2015

As part of our 40th anniversary celebrations the Festival du Nouveau Cinema in Montreal hosted two screenings of shorts films from Winnipeg (program 1 and program 2) and the Festival Signes de Nuit in Paris hosted one shorts program, both curated by Solomon Nagler.

2016

The Cinematheque gets new seats for the theatre!

2017

Due to a burst pipe we remodel our basement office.

2018

Our Production Centre delivers free editing and sound workshops to women in collaboration with the NFB.

2018

We collaborate with Women in the Director’s Chair and offer an intense mentorship workshop for three women filmmakers.

2018

Found in Translation – The WFG subtitles and tours 36 films from the Distribution Collection across Canada, to Switzerland and France.

2018

We hold the 10th anniversary edition of our Gimme Some Truth Documentary Festival.

2019

The Winnipeg Indigenous Filmmakers Collective celebrates its 5th Anniversary. (Previously called the Aboriginal Filmmaker Collective.)

2019

The Women’s Film and Video Network becomes arms-length and member-led. It continues to offer support to women and non-binary filmmakers via networking events and workshops. The group changes its name to the Womxn’s Film and Video Network.

2019

Due to a burst pipe we remodel our basement office, again!

2020

The Covid-19 coronavirus forces us to close our doors. We pivoted our activities online and continued to offer our services to as many customers and members as possible.

2021

We received a Safe at Home grant from the Government of Manitoba and offered free online programming to Manitoba audiences in February and March, through our Cinematheque at Home portal.

About

WFG is the centre of independent filmmaking in Manitoba. We support creators to learn, connect, experiment, produce, and present their works in Canada and around the world.

Board & Staff List

The WFG’s staff is proud to support filmmakers, engage the community and expand the appreciation of independent artistically-driven cinema through our Dave Barber Cinematheque, Distribution and Production Departments.