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1998 Lifetime Achievement Award: Allan King

HOT DOCS! Is proud to present the first Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in Canadian Documentary Cinema, to be presented at the Awards Gala. Allan King is one of Canada’s leading filmmakers. His prolific career spans four decades and almost every cinematic genre. Retrospectives of his work have been shown in Montreal (1961), London (1970 and 1984), Rome (1983), and at Cinematheque Ontario (1995). In 1954, at the age of twenty-four, King joined CBC Vancouver as an assistant film editor. Two years later he made Skid Row, which was invited to the 1957 Edinburgh Festival. Skid Row would prove to be the first of King’s many documentaries to garner international critical acclaim.

By 1961, King had opened a studio in London, England, which was pioneering the techniques of cinema vérité and “direct cinema.” These explorations would soon evolve into a genre King describes as “actuality drama”: the shaping of spontaneous action into dramatic form in order to explore personal experience. The first film created in the genre was Warrendale, a film about emotionally disturbed children. Warrendale won the Prize d’art et d’essai at Cannes in 1967 followed by A Married Couple, which was featured at the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes in 1970. Come on Children, his third and final film in this form, premiered at the famous Flaherty Seminars in 1972. King was vilified for this last film by the members of the Seminar for being politically inappropriate. “It would be 1983 before King’s next documentary – a two hour study of unemployment entitled Who’s In Charge? This controversial film was invited to both the Toronto and London Film Festivals, as well as the prestigious international television seminar, Input.

King’s first dramatic feature, Who Has Seen The Wind won the Grand Prix at the Paris International Film Festival; the Golden Reel Award for the top grossing Canadian film of the year, and was nominated for 10 Canadian film awards. Other film prizes include four Canadian Film Awards for the 1978 TV Drama One Night Stand six Genie nominations for Termini Station (1989). King won a 1992 Gemini Award for Best Director in a Dramatic or Comedy Series for his work on Road to Avonlea. He also directed the production of Kurt Vonnegut’s All The King’s Men, which won Atlantis Films an Ace Award for Best Picture in 1991. More recently, King directed the 1996 production Leonardo Da Vinci for Devine Entertainment and HBO.

In 1988, King was given the Ontario Film Institute Award for excellence in Canadian Cinema in recognition of his long and distinguished career. He has been President and CEO of the Directors Guild of Canada and its Entertainment Ventures Corporation since 1993.

He is presently editing The Dragon’s Egg: Exploring The Fear of Difference, a documentary study of conflict and the preservation of ethnic difference in the Baltic States, which he has been researching since 1994. It was filmed for seven weeks in the Estonian village of Klooga with William Brayne, the cinematographer whom he made Warrendale with 30 years ago.

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