Clearwater is an internationally recognized and globally oriented documentary production company, whose co-founders have deep roots in the Canadian Northwest.
Tom Radford, who has built a distinguished 35-year career as a writer, director and producer from Edmonton, Alberta, was born to a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper family that came to the province in 1905. Niobe Thompson represents the second generation at Clearwater; an anthropologist, on-screen host, producer and director, he grew up in the Cree community of Wabasca in northern Alberta, the son of wooden canvas canoe builders.
The company’s traces its origins back through Radford’s many accomplishments as a western Canadian filmmaker. When Code Breakers won double Gemini Awards in 2011, it marked the thirteenth time his films have won national or international honours at festivals around the world. Radford has earned the Best Director prize at the Alberta Film Awards on seven separate occasions, most recently for Tipping Point: Age of the Oilsands, co-directed with Niobe Thompson in 2011.
Over the years, Radford has been a pivotal figure in the developing Canadian film industry. As a Canadian National Film Board Executive Producer, he founded the NFB Northwest Studio in Edmonton in 1980. During that period he produced over 20 films, including the early work of artists as diverse as Anne Wheeler and Gil Cardinal. Foster Child, produced with Gil Cardinal, won a Gemini in 1988. Wood Mountain Poems, produced with Harvey Spak, won the Best Arts Documentary Award at the Banff Television Festival. The Renewable Society was a 26-part television series produced for the NFB Challenge for Change Program with renowned urbanist Peter Boothroyd.
Radford’s still photography has appeared in the National Gallery of Canada. He is the author of two books, including the bestselling Alberta, A Celebration. He has sat on the board of directors of the Banff Television Festival, was a founder of the National Screen Institute, and is a member of the Advisory Council to the Historica Foundation. A founding partner in Film Frontiers, Filmwest Associates, Great North Productions, and finally Clearwater Documentary, Radford has been deeply involved in the building of a arts industry in the West. His contributions to Canadian culture recently let to an Alberta Award of Excellence presented by Peter Lougheed, former Premier of Alberta.
Fellow Albertan Niobe Thompson joined Radford to found the new Clearwater in 2008, bringing his experience as an Arctic anthropologist and human rights writer in Africa, South Asia, and Siberia. With a doctorate from Cambridge’s renowned Scott Polar Research Institute, he has published on the global trade in light weapons, diamonds and insurgency in West Africa, and rebuilding judiciary systems in post-conflict states. After five years of research in the Russian Far North, Thompson published Settlers on the Edge in 2008.
In the first four years at Clearwater, Niobe Thompson produced and co-directed four major broadcast documentaries that garnered Gemini Awards for Best Director and Best Photography, four Gemini nominations, 13 Alberta Film awards, and a Best Nature and Science award from Banff. Thompson both directed and played the role of on-screen host in The Perfect Runner (2012), and hosted and co-directed, with Tom Radford, both Code Breakers (2011) and Inuit Odyssey (2009).
Most recently, Clearwater Documentary produced The Great Human Odyssey (2013/14) – a three-part series exploring the miracle of human evolution and survival over the past million years, and Plutocrats (2016/17) – a feature documentary on the global superwealthy in an age of austerity.