Books

New Margaret Atwood documentary chronicles the year she wrote The Testaments

Documentary makers Nancy Lang and Peter Raymont followed Margaret Atwood and her late partner Graeme Gibson for a year, filming her as she completed The Testaments.

The film will air on CBC, documentary channel, CBC Gem and a screening will take place in Toronto

Margaret Atwood poses with her book The Testaments during the photo call for the 2019 Booker Prize. (Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images)

A new documentary about Margaret Atwood is coming in time for the iconic author's 80th birthday.

In Margaret Atwood: A Word after a Word after a Word is Power, Atwood visits the set of The Handmaid's Tale television series and is busy completing the final chapters of The Testamentsa sequel to her 1985 dystopian novel. 

Filmmakers Nancy Lang and Peter Raymont followed Atwood as she took on speaking engagements, on a trip to Iceland and to the bird observatory she established with her partner Graeme Gibson on Pelee Island in Ontario.

Thirty-five friends, family and colleagues were interviewed for the film, including The Handmaid's Tale star Elisabeth Moss, the director of the Alias Grace TV adaptation Sarah Polley, the former Governor General of Canada Adrienne Clarkson and fellow writer Susan Swan.

Poetry and prose by Atwood will be read in the film by actor Tatiana Maslany.

Atwood turns 80 on Nov. 18, 2019.

Margaret Atwood: A Word after a Word after a Word is Power will premiere in Toronto on Nov. 7, 2019.

A 44-minute version of the film, titled Margaret Atwood: Encounters, will air on CBC on Nov. 14, 2019 at 9 p.m. 

A 78-minute version of the film, also titled Margaret Atwood: A Word after a Word after a Word is Power, will air on documentary channel on Nov. 19 at 9 p.m. ET.

The 44-minute version, Margaret Atwood: Encounters, will be available on CBC Gem on Nov. 19.

 The title of the film is taken from Atwood's poem Spelling, which was published in her 1981 collection of poetry True Stories.  

The Testaments tells the story of three women, one architect of Gilead, one young woman growing up in the oppressed society and another living in Canada.

The Testaments was published in Canada on Sept. 10, 2019. It has set Canadian sales records and went on to co-win the 2019 Booker Prize. Bernardine Evaristo was the other winner for the novel Girl, Woman, Other.

Documentary makers Nancy Lang and Peter Raymont will participate in an on-stage Q&A after the Toronto film screening. 

The film will be shown at the TIFF Bell Lightbox Theatre in Toronto. 

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