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2004 Outstanding Achievement Award: Michael Maclear

**Michael Maclear
Foreign Correspondent, Vietnam Journalist and Pioneer Broadcast Documentarian **

”Maclear’s resume is living history itself.” - Andrew Ryan, The Globe and Mail

This year, our Outstanding Achievement programme highlights the work of the multi-award-winning documentary producer, writer and broadcast journalist Michael Maclear. Over the past five decades, he has produced a distinguished body of informative television. His work ranges from incisive pieces for the CBC’s legendary Newsmagazine show during its golden age in the ‘50s and ‘60s, through personal journalistic forays on the self-titles Maclear on CTV in the ‘70s, to an impressive body of longer, more comprehensive series from the ‘80s to the present.

Maclear has always been a precise, informed and thorough journalist. Whether working as a foreign correspondent, an essayist or an historian, he has made the story the fist priority, although his personal opinions often come shining through. In a field of endeavour where sensationalism or playing favourites can help a journalist’s career, he never played it safe. His work is marked by clarity, craftmanship and, above all, integrity.

If there were a defining time in Maclear’s career, it would be the ‘60s and early ‘70s when he spent a considerable amount of time in North Vietnam. Famously, he was the only Western broadcast journalist to cover Ho Chi Minh’s funeral. His sympathy for the Vietnamese is a running theme in the pieces he produced for the CBC, CTV, NBC and CBS during the war.

In the early ‘80s, when Maclear left his position as executive producer of CTV’s current affairs division, his first self-produced project was the definitive 13-hour series Vietnam: The 10,000 Day War. A book, also by Maclear, accompanied this landmark production, and both the book and the series garnered critical worldwide acclaim.

A key element in our Hot Docs retrospective is the first theatrical screening of Maclear’s latest work, Vietnam: Ghosts of War. In it, he sojourns back to Vietnam to confront the demons that still haunt him and many of those who witnessed or participated in a tragic war that defined a generation.

In addition to Vietnam: Ghosts of War, this retrospective also presents three distinct programmes — Japan in Translation, America At War and Foreign Correspondent — to highlight different aspects of Maclear’s work. Each has been culled from a variety of his past documentaries and will be screened exclusively for Hot Docs. Maclear has personally designed each show with the help of a Hot Docs programmer. As a result, these shows are Maclear’s own director’s cuts, representing the best in his non-fiction pieces.

Since Maclear was the first Far East correspondent for the CBC, it’s not surprising that his documentaries about Japan still have a ring of authenticity to them. Japan in Translation and American at War present stirring, relevant tales of how Japan, a country in defeat at the end of the Second World War, rose again so quickly, while another nation, the United States, transformed itself from democratic stalwart to dominant imperial power. By contrast, Foreign Correspondent takes the viewer on serious but entertaining trips around the world, hosted by the questioning, essayist presence of Maclear himself.

Already a three-time broadcast winner, Maclear garnered a special Gemini in 2003 for his exceptional contribution to the Canadian television industry. The Canadian Film and Television Production Association have him their Personal Achievement Award in 1991. Hot Docs is please to join those organizations in offering the Outstanding Achievement Award to the still provocative and vigorous Michael Maclear in 2004.

Marc Glassman
Programmer, outstanding Achievement Award Retrospective

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