The Cleveland International Film Festival promotes artistically and culturally significant film arts through education and exhibition to enrich the life of the community.
In 2003 at the 27th CIFF we launched our Director Spotlight Award. The purpose of this program is to showcase directors with distinguished careers by featuring a retrospective of their past films and screening their most recent work available. Over the years we have celebrated filmmakers who have had their talent embraced around the country and the world. This year we are proud to present the Director Spotlight Award to Jennifer Baichwal.
Jennifer Baichwal was born in Montréal, Quebec and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. She studied philosophy and theology at McGill University, receiving an M.A. in 1994, supported by a McGill Major Fellowship and an FCAR Master’s Scholarship. After completing her studies, Jennifer was drawn to producing documentary films as a way to reflect on and explore issues within society and the human experience.
Over the past 25 years, Jennifer has produced and directed ten feature documentaries, along with numerous other installations and lens-based projects. Her work has been screened and exhibited all over the world, and it has received multiple awards internationally.
In addition to directing films, Jennifer runs her own production company, Mercury Films, which she created in 2000 with her husband and creative collaborator, cinematographer Nicholas de Pencier. Her most recent work, ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH (2018), is the third film in a documentary trilogy that explores the relationship between industrialized societies and the natural landscapes they dominate. The two preceding films, MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES (2006–CIFF31) and WATERMARK (2013), have each received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Documentary in 2006 as well as 2013. In each film in her trilogy series, Jennifer uses a wide, observational lens to present audiences with an unflinching look on our society’s large-scale impacts on the earth. Jennifer’s willingness to dive deep into her subject matter and to build upon the same important themes for decades is just part of what makes this incredible filmmaker stand out as a storyteller and as an artist.
Previous Recipients of the CIFF's Director Spotlight Award are:
2017 – Steve James
2012 – Kurt Kuenne
2010 – Jan Hřebejk
2008 – John Sayles
2007 – Rolf de Heer
2006 – Freida Lee Mock
2005 – Todd Solondz
2003 – Goran Markovic