About

One of Canada's most respected documentary filmmakers

About John Walker

John Walker is one of Canada’s most prolific and respected documentary filmmakers. His films have been widely broadcast and have appeared at major international film festivals in Toronto, Vancouver, New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, London and Tokyo. From the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, he has received 19 nominations and awards, including the coveted Donald Brittain Award for best social/political documentary, for Utshimassits: Place of the Boss.

Walker also received a Gemini for best documentary director (The Hand of Stalin) and a Genie for best feature documentary (Strand – Under the Dark Cloth), a personal portrait of his mentor, the photographer and filmmaker Paul Strand. His film on the Cape Breton coal miners’ choir, Men of the Deeps, won three Gemini Awards, including best performing arts, best documentary photography and best sound, as well as a best director nomination. The film garnered three million viewers during its CTV broadcast.

Born in Montreal, Walker made several films for British television, including two films in the BBC October Films trilogy The Hand of Stalin, which addressed the extreme human suffering under Stalin’s regime. “Oral history at its most devastating,” London’s Daily Mail said at the time, while the Observer noted “words fail the enormity of what these films reveal.” The British Press Guild, Royal Television Society, and the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television all nominated the trilogy for best series.

Walker’s directorial credits on Great Britain’s Channel 4 include Hidden Children, a film about children who concealed their Jewish identity to survive the Holocaust; Orphans of Manchuria, also nominated for the Donald Brittain Award; and the ground-breaking Distress Signals, based on the communication theories of Canadian scholar Harold Innis, which also received a nomination for a Donald Brittain Award.

With Utshimassits: Place of the Boss, he turned his attention to a tragedy on Canadian soil – juxtaposing the powerful testimony of the Mushuau Innu of Davis Inlet with the vast Labrador landscape. Walker’s feature-length films include the Genie-nominated The Fairy Faith, Tough Assignment, Strand – Under the Dark Cloth, and the critically acclaimed feature drama A Winter Tan, starring Jackie Burroughs, which received seven Genie nominations including best motion picture and best director, and won best actress.

Walker also co-produced, wrote and directed the provocative feature film Passage, a fiction/documentary for BBC and History Television about the search for the fabled Northwest Passage. The Toronto Star called it “One of the great triumphs in Canadian documentary film history.” His feature documentary A Drummer’s Dream was described by the Globe and Mail as “Beautifully shot and recorded with a lovely sound … (it) isn’t really about drumming, but about joy and self-expression.”

His passionate commitment to the documentary form led him to co-found DOC, Documentary Organization of Canada (formerly Canadian Independent Film Caucus). Now based in Halifax, Walker conducts master classes across the country and mentors numerous emerging filmmakers. He served as guest programmer for Hot Docs, the Canadian International Documentary Festival, and has been a board member since 2011.

About John Walker Productions

John Walker Productions Ltd is a privately held documentary production company based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  Focused on documentary films for theatrical and television release the company is respected and renowned for its integrity and high quality professional productions.

With a core staff of John Walker; Writer, Director, Producer and Cinematographer, Ann Bernier; Producer and Director of Business Affairs, Angie Kokic; Accountant, and Amy Trefry; Production Co-ordinator, the company maintains a lean and flexible approach to documentary production. Its outside staff of seasoned industry professionals responds to IT, Audit, Legal, Media Relations, and Production needs on a contract basis.

In addition to documentary production the company works as mentor and consultant to individuals and organizations.

Select Awards

Quebec My Country Mon Pays
  • Writers Guild of Canada – Best Documentary Script
  • Nova Scotia Screen Awards – Best Documentary 
  • World Premiere Hot Docs 2016
  • Vancouver International Film Festival – Jury Citation – Honourable Mention – Best Documentary 2016
Arctic Defenders
  • Best Feature Film – Atlantic Film Festival
  • Director’s Guild of Canada – Alan King Award Nomination for Excellence in Documentary
  • Writer’s Guild of Canada – Screenwriters Award Nomination – Best Documentary Script
Playing A Dangerous Game
  • Yorkton Film Festival, Golden Sheaf Award Nomination – Best Documentary History
A Drummer’s Dream
  • FIPA D’OR – Grand Prize Performing Arts – Biarritz, France
  • Hot Docs International Documentary Festival – Top Ten Audience Award
Passage
  • Banff World Television Festival – Best Canadian Production
  • Canadian Film & Television Producers Association – Indie Award – Best Doc
  • Real 2 Reel International Film Festival for Youth – Best Picture
  • Atlantic Film Festival – Best Director – Best Cinematography
  • Writers Guild of Canada – Screenwriters Award – Best Documentary Script
Men Of The Deeps
  • Gemini Awards – Best Performing Arts Documentary, Best Documentary Photography, Best Documentary Sound
  • Gemini nomination – Best Documentary Director
  • Canadian Society of Cinematographers – Best Documentary Photography
  • Atlantic Film Festival – Excellence in Sound Design
  • Tidal Wave Film Festival – Viewers Choice Award – Best Documentary
The Fairy Faith
  • Genie nomination – Best Feature Documentary
Utshimassits: Place Of The Boss
  • Gemini – Donald Brittain Award – Best Social/Political Documentary
  • Gemini nomination – Best Documentary Director
  • Hot Docs nomination – Best Cultural Documentary
  • Yorkton Film Festival – Golden Sheaf Awards – Best Film of Festival, Best Documentary over 30min and Best Music
  • Atlantic Film Festival – Rex Tasker Award – Best Documentary
Tough Assignment
  • Hot Docs – Best Editing of Festival
Hidden Children
  • Chicago Film Festival – Golden Plaque Award
  • Gemini nomination – Donald Brittain Award – Best Social/Political Documentary
  • New York, San Francisco and Toronto Jewish Film Festivals
The Hand Of Stalin
  • Gemini Award – Best Documentary Director
  • Earth Peace International Film Festival – Special Merit Award
Strand-Under The Dark Cloth
  • Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television – Genie Award – Best Feature Documentary
  • Nyon International Documentary Festival – Public Jury Award
  • Festival International Du Film Sur L’Art – Best Biography
A Winter Tan
  • Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television – Genie Award – Best Actor
  • Genie nominations – Best Picture and Best Director
Chambers – Tracks And Gestures
  • Canadian Film & Television Association Award – Best Documentary
  • Yorkton Film Festival – Golden Sheaf Awards – Best Film of Festival and Best Human Condition
  • Canadian Film Editors – Best Editing
  • Canadian Society of Cinematographers – Best Documentary Photography

Guy Dixon on A Drummer's Dream

/ The Globe and Mail

"Non-drummers watching the film will be blown over by the joy in their virtuoso playing. But this is really a film for drummers to buy on DVD and study over and over until the rewind button breaks."

Cameron Bailey on Strand – Under the Dark Cloth

/ Now Magazine

“A resonant portrait of the photographer who defined the style that came to be called modern.”

The Toronto Star on The Fairy Faith

/ The Toronto Star

Walker’s engaging documentary (The Fairy Faith) brings a remarkably fresh and intelligent approach.

Greg Klymkiw on Quebec My Country Mon Pays

/ The Film Corner

"Walker's created a film anyone can call their own. Who has not been touched by a sense of place and at worst, forced to leave it and at best, always fearing what one might do if forced to leave it behind?"

John Naughton on The Hand of Stalin

"filmed with grace and sensitivity…Words fail the enormity of what these films reveal." (I) was left stunned in a way I haven’t been since seeing Shoah, Claude Lansmann’s film about the Holocaust.

Jay Scott on Strand – Under The Dark Cloth

/ The Globe and Mail

Strand – Under The Dark Cloth confronts us with a human being difficult to forget. Walker has succeeded by Strand’s standards in capturing his subject.”

The Daily News on The Fairy Faith

/ The Daily News

Gorgeous cinematography and an enchanting soundtrack make Walker’s journey irresistible.

Brian D. Johnson on A Drummers Dream

/ MacLean’s

"Directed with clean, lyrical precision…this movie is not to be missed."

Victoria Ahearn on A Drummers Dream

/ The Canadian Press

"Drummers will relish the uninterrupted shots of the masters pounding away on their kits, occasionally stopping to discuss their thought process."