I spearheaded this event as a special project during a brief tenure at the Winnipeg Film Group. The then-executive director of the WFG encouraged me to apply for a grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, with complete freedom to do as I pleased should the grant be successful. I envisioned a documentary film festival, but I specifically wanted the kind of films that left you feeling like you’d been punched in the face. This was not necessarily a popular approach.

Although not mentioned in the press release, Les Blank also attended to present a secret screening of the Leon Russell doc A Poem is a Naked Person, seven years before its official release.

From the original press release:

GIMME SOME TRUTH: THE WINNIPEG DOCUMENTARY PROJECT is an intensive four-day conference scheduled for November 6-9, 2008 at the Winnipeg Film Group’s Cinematheque that will inspire discussion on a variety of topics – technical, ethical and cultural – related specifically to the production of documentary film.The conference was initiated by Cinematheque assistant Kier-La Janisse, who succeeded in bring the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences on board as the primary sponsor, and facilitated by a partnership between the Winnipeg Film Group and DOC Winnipeg, a chapter of the Documentary Organization of Canada, The National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition (NIMAC) and the National Film Board of Canada.

Master classes (lectures by master level filmmakers) and panels (keynote discussions on broader thematic topics) will explore current challenges as well as provide strategic market intelligence and innovative professional development. Technical workshops will provide hands-on training in lighting, sound and editing techniques for documentary filmmaking. Screenings will honour those whose films have had a lingering impact on the world’s cinematic landscape.

In a time when the affordability of digital media has made a filmmaker of everyone, and many young filmmakers turn to cheap means of honing their skills, it is important to recognize the immense artistic heritage of documentary film and learn from the great stalwarts of the genre as to what separates a passable documentary from a great, lasting work of art.

Award-winning filmmakers confirmed at this date include Steve James (Hoop Dreams), Nettie Wild (Fix: The Story of an Addicted City) and Allan King (Warrendale), with more to be announced shortly. In addition, acclaimed directors Albert Maysles (Grey Gardens) and Peter Watkins (The War Game) will provide exclusive video introductions to precede rare screenings of their work.