Absolutely Canadian brings local films and documentaries to your screen

Absolutely Canadian airs locally from July through September on CBC Television and CBC Gem.

Watch local stories by student filmmakers, independent producers and directors

Absolutely Canadian airs locally from July through September on CBC Television and CBC Gem. (CBC)

Celebrating community stories in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, Absolutely Canadian showcases award-winning short films and documentary programs created by in-house and independent local producers, as well as student filmmakers from Carleton University and Algonquin College.

From a group of musicians making a splash on the Ottawa scene to a public servant who transforms into a superhero, the 2019 Ottawa Reel Shorts compilations include compelling, emotional stories about community members, artists and more. Each story brings something special to the series.

You'll want to look out for Creatorland - The Documentary, a locally-produced independent documentary about what it takes to become an entrepreneur. The Art in Nature is another must-see production, highlighting how local artists incorporate their love of the outdoors in their artwork. 

If you missed it last year, make sure to watch the encore presentation of Indigenous Stories: Silla and Mamandagokwe, a documentary by two Indigenous filmmakers that brings together Indigenous women reconnecting with their cultural roots.

Didn't get a chance to watch the broadcast? The Absolutely Canadian documentaries are also available free and on demand on CBC Gem

Take a look at the full 2019 lineup: 

Ottawa Reel Shorts 2019

Watch it now on CBC Gem

A compilation of short, scripted films and mini documentaries from student and emerging filmmakers in the Ottawa area. This year's compilation brings together stories of a local artist balancing stones to make sculptures, a public servant turned cosplayer, a group of musicians with a vintage organ, two young best friends playing hooky and a young man trying to find his way. 

Short films include: Balance, The Cosplayer, The Jazzmen, La Pared and Best Mates 

The short films and documentaries featured in Ottawa Reel Shorts 2019 are The Jazzmen, Balance, The Cosplayer, La Pared and Best Mates.

Indigenous Stories: Silla and Mamandagokwe  

Coming soon to CBC Gem

Indigenous Stories is a one-hour program that includes two locally produced, independent documentaries by Howard Adler and Gabrielle Fayant. Silla is a short documentary that features Ottawa-based Inuit artists and musicians, Charlotte Qamaniq and Cynthia Pitsiulak. As a traditional throat singing duo, they are known for performing under the name Silla, but also perform as a trio under the name "Silla and Rise" when paired up with DJ Rise Ashen. 

Mamandagokwe is the second part, a short documentary film showcasing Dara Wawatay-Chabot's life and the historical context of her community and the Algonquin Nation, including a focus on her story through beadwork and how Indigenous youth find beauty in the struggle. These two independent documentaries were produced with the support of the Filmmaker Assistance Program (FAP) at the National Film Board of Canada and CBC's Local Production Development Fund. 

Filmmaker Howard Adler, left, and singer Charlotte Qamaniq, right, snap a behind-the-scenes photo during the production of Indigenous Stories: Silla. (Photo submitted by Howard Adler)
Dara Wawatay-Chabot discussed relocating to an urban setting in the documentary titled Indigenous Stories: Mamandagokwe. (Gabrielle Fayant)

Creatorland - The Documentary

Watch it now on CBC Gem

This documentary is a women-led production following the lives of Ottawa creators and inventors, from fashion designers to tech start ups. Creatorland - The Documentary is about why they do what they do. Learn the unfiltered truth about the challenges these individuals face, and what gives them the unwavering will to succeed. 

Director Amen Jafri, left, and producer Zainab Muse, work together on the set of Creatorland. (Will Smith)
Creatorland - The Documentary airs on CBC Television and CBC Gem on July 20 at 7 p.m. as part of the Absolutely Canadian series. (Ming Wu)

The Leslie McCurdy Story: On the Money 

Watch it now on CBC Gem

For two decades, Leslie McCurdy has brought the stories of heroines to life on stage. The actress and playwright from Windsor, Ontario has dedicated her life to telling the stories of black women who stood up against racial injustice, such as Harriet Tubman and Viola Desmond.

The film, The Leslie McCurdy Story: On the Money, gives context to the reason why Viola Desmond is now on the Canadian ten dollar bill and features a reunion between McCurdy and Desmond's now famous sister, Wanda Robson. The film also raises issues about economic and social justice as well as the importance of preserving and teaching black history. This independent documentary was produced and directed by Pat Jeflyn and Kim Kristy from Windsor, Ontario.

Leslie McCurdy on stage as Viola Desmond. (Enhao Fan)

The Art in Nature

Watch it now on CBC Gem

This program will focus on the works of four Ottawa-based artists who bring teachings and beauty of the natural world to life. Photographer Meryl McMaster guides us through a contemplative look at her Métis history. Gillian King weaves the art of printmaking and plant dyeing into full-sized abstract paintings that interact with her body.

Whitney Lewis Smith takes us deep into her imagination as she reconstructs seemingly impossible ecological scenes captured on glass plate negatives. Arpi demonstrates the wisdom that nature teaches us in cultivating a culture of beauty on our streets, in our homes and in our minds. This project is a collaboration with CBC Arts, CBC Ottawa and local independent producer/director Nicholas Castel. 

Producer and director Nicholas Castel with artist Whitney Lewis-Smith. (Gillian King)