The Filmmakers

ALAN ZWEIG (Writer/Director)

Alan Zweig’s grandparents came to Canada at the turn of the 20th century, from Poland and the Ukraine respectively. They came, like all immigrants, to make a better life for their children. One grandfather went on to run the gum and newspaper concession at the old Ford Hotel near the Toronto Bus Station. The other opened a furrier shop one month before the crash of 1929. But their hard work paid off anyway and their children succeeded, thus clearing the way for Alan’s generation to turn their back on all that comfort and return to the poverty of their grandparents. In Alan’s case he chose the film business.

In Canada. He went to film school at Sheridan College in the 70s, where he fell in love with filmmaking. In the next 25 years he drove a cab, worked on film crews in the transport department, acted in a few short films, wrote a few episodes of television and finished three shorts and one feature film, all dramas. Of those four films the only one he will admit to is Stealing Images, which won the prize for best short film at the Toronto Film Festival in 1989.

In 2000 though, he snatched victory from the jaws of failure with Vinyl, his first documentary which has gone on to become a cult film and in 2013 was included in Pitchfork Magazine’s list of 20 Essential Music Documentaries. After Vinyl he made two more personal docs, which altogether became known as his trilogy of “mirror films.”

His next film A Hard Name won 2010’s Genie for Best Canadian Feature documentary. And two films after that, his film When Jews Were Funny premiered at TIFF and went on to win the prize for Best Canadian Feature.

Over the years he has enjoyed retrospectives at Hot Docs, the Winnipeg Cinematheque and on TVO.

HURT was his seventh feature documentary. It won the inaugural Platform Prize at TIFF, was named to Canada’s Top Ten features of the year and won the Canadian Screen Award for ‘Best Feature Documentary’. HOPE is the sequel to HURT. It will have its World Premiere at HotDocs in April 2017.

Alan lives in Toronto’s west end with his wife and young daughter.

peter-gentile

PETER GENTILE (Producer/Executive Producer)

In good times and in bad, Peter Gentile is a producer. His parents came to Canada from Italy in the 1950s in the hopes of finding a city that would embody every immigrant’s dream — an entertainment capital with long, cold winters. They found that in Toronto where Peter began his career at York University studying film and television. While in school the projects he made, Trip 1606 and Weekend Warriors, quickly found their way to pay television. He soon made the feature drama, Welcome to the Parade, that was selected to Perspective Canada at the Toronto International Festival of Festivals and Montreal’s World Film Festival.

Peter then started a production company and after a decade of struggle began producing award-winning documentaries, dramas and performing arts programs. He has also directed the film, Terranova, about his Italian roots and biographical portraits on Robert Lantos and Paul Gross.

Peter’s first executive produced project was the anthology series Love Hurts made by an independent film community that was having a hard time getting their films seen by a wider audience. The series was syndicated across the country and sold internationally. He has also produced ratings success Villeneuve: A Legend, A Champion about Formula 1 racing and the Hot Docs audience Top 10, Clubland. Peter has also produced successful series for MTV (Grand Benders) and History Television (Mob Stories — ok, he had an uncle in that biz).

But Peter is attracted to more than speed, excess and violence. He can’t hide the fact that he was mentored by his art history professor and it left a lasting impression that shows up in the many performing arts programs he has produced. Working often with Veronica Tennant, Northern Lights, Vida Y Danza Cuba and Michael Ondaatje (on Shadow Pleasures) and recently Moze Mossanen (on Nureyev). He will be working again with Mossanen on a feature doc about the hit musical Come From Away.

Peter’s last feature HURT won the inaugural Platform Prize at TIFF, was named to Canada’s Top Ten features of the year and won the Canadian Screen Award for ‘Best Feature Documentary. A sequel to this film, HOPE, makes its World Premiere at HotDocs in April 2017. HOPE is his twenty-eighth production and fifteenth biographical portrait.

In real life, Peter, his wife and daughter can usually be found hanging out in Toronto’s Little Italy.