Is human culture in the Americas thousands of years older than we thought? Did the first humans reach the New World by foot at the end of the Ice Age? Or did they come thousands of years earlier, by sea?
Science may finally have the answer.
Code Breakers follows Arctic anthropologist Niobe Thompson on a fascinating journey, from Siberia to the Bering Strait, from Brazil to the world's cutting-edge DNA laboratories, searching for the secrets of prehistory's last great migration. A major discovery seems within reach, but promising evidence keeps falling short. Until a remarkable discovery in an Oregon cave.
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“ ...a David-versus-Goliath tale about the voices fighting to be heard over the spin and money produced by the biggest energy project on earth.” - Edmonton Journal
In an oil-scarce world, we know there are sacrifices to be made in the pursuit of energy. What no one expected was that a tiny Native community living down the river from Canada's oil sands would reach out to the world for help, and be heard.
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One thousands years ago, the Arctic was changing. The climate warmed, the seas melted and whales and walrus streamed north. A gentler time for Canada’s indigenous northern peoples, perhaps, but with the warming came a deadly threat – an Inuit invasion.
The Dorset – gentle giants of the Canadian Arctic – were violently overwhelmed by an invading force of sea-faring whalers, whose ocean vessels, weapons, and hunting technology far surpassed theirs. But these invaders were not Europeans – they were compact and warlike Thule Inuit from the Bering Sea far to the west. Within two centuries, the Dorset had died out, and the Thule had reached the farthest extent of their expansion, bringing them into contact with a thriving population of Medieval Norse settlers in southwest Greenland. This was an extraordinary meeting – a New World encounter of two cultures, one East Asian and one European. But it was not a happy one; the Thule engaged the Norse in a battle for survival – a battle the Europeans lost.
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Tar Sands: Canada for Sale
Tar Sands: Canada for Sale (2008), An investigation of the social, political, and environmental impact of the Alberta Tar Sands on the world economy.
43 min. CBC/NRK/NHK (2008).
A coproduction with White Pine Pictures.
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Power of Dreams
Power of Dreams (2008), two young Canadians fight to bring social reform to the favelas of Brazil. 46 min. ACCESS / Canadian Learning Television.
I, Nuligak / Worlds Collide
I, Nuligak / Worlds Collide(2006). A story of first contact in the high Arctic from an Inuit perspective.
Special Recognition, Hors Competition, Banff World Television Festival.
72 min. a coproduction with White Pine Pictures for APTN (2006).
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(2005). A centennial celebration of 100 years of Alberta music from Wilf Carter to Nickelback to kd lang. “Best Documentary” & “Best Director”, Alberta Film Awards, Nomination, “Best Special”, Banff Television Festival, Nomination, “Best Variety”, Gemini Awards.
A coproduction with White Iron Pictures for CBC.
Road of Bones
Road of Bones (2004), Cambridge anthropologist Niobe Thompson journeys to Siberia to explore Soviet collapse and Chukchi revival. 94 min. w/ Black Spring Pictures, SRC.
Great Lodges of the Canadian Rockies
Great Lodges of the Canadian Rockies (2004), a mini-series on the eccentric character and history of castles in the wilderness like the Banff Springs Hotel and Jasper Park Lodge. 2x56 min. w/ Alliance Atlantis, PBS / National Geographic. Four telecasts, PBS.
Arctic Dreamer (2003), the biography of controversial explorer and writer Vilhjalmur Stefansson, one of the last polar adventurers. 46 min. w/ White Pine Pictures, History Television. Gemini Award, Best Biography; The Chris Award, Columbus, Ohio.
The Great Divide
The Great Divide (2003), the life of David Thompson, one of the world's greatest land geographers. 46 min. S4C Wales and History Television.
Conscience (2002), the story of Czech writer and actor Vladimir Valenta, Czech resistance fighter and star of the Academy Award winning film "Closely Watched Trains". 48 min. w/ Alliance Atlantis / History Television.
The Honour of the Crown
The Honour of the Crown (2002), the fight of the Head of the Rapids people, to close a 100-year old land claim against the Government of Canada. 48 min. CBC Witness / NFB. Best Documentary over 30 minutes, 2002 Alberta Film Awards.
The End of Evolution
The End of Evolution (2001), the world of renowned paleontologist Peter Ward, a mass extinction expert, on the natural events that threaten life on earth. 46 min. Discovery Network / NFB.
The Great Lone Land
The Great Lone Land (2001), the western adventure of Canada's first draft dodger, American Civil War artist and doctor, Richard Barrington Nevitt. 26 min. w/ White Pine Pictures, History Television.
The Tree Planter
The Tree Planter (2001), the 98-year life of prairie populist, conservationist, and author Grant MacEwan. "The Canadians: Biographies of a Nation" 48 min. w/ Great North Productions, History Television.
Distant Skies (2000), World War One flying ace Wop May opens up the Canadian North and invents the saga of the bush pilot. 48 min. w/ Great North Productions, History Television.
The Last Roundup
The Last Roundup (2000), the story of country music legend Wilf Carter, the yodelling cowboy. 48 min. w/ Great North Productions, History Television.
New Norway (1999), the immigrants’ dream of building of a multi-cultural society on the western Canadian frontier. 26 min. w/ White Pine Pictures, History Television.
Tickling the Dragon’s Tail
Tickling the Dragon's Tail (1999), the mystery of Louis Slotin, the Canadian physicist killed building the atomic bomb. 52 min. w/ Great North Productions, Canwest Global. Best Director, 1999 Alberta Film Awards.
A Land As Green As the Sea
A Land As Green As the Sea (1998), the legacy of five generations of Scots in Canada. 26 min. w/ White Pine Pictures, History Television.
The Buffalo Ground
The Buffalo Ground (1995), the musician as historian, a portrait of The Great Western Orchestra. 52 min. CBC.
The Life and Times of Peter Lougheed
The Life and Times of Peter Lougheed (1994), a chronicle of the rise to power of Alberta’s most influential premier. 52 min. CBC Life and Times.
Hockey Night in Harlem
Hockey Night in Harlem (1993), New York inner city kids fight for respect on hockey rinks from Central Park to central Alberta. 26 min. CBC Man Alive. Quebec/Alberta Prize, Banff Television Festival.
The Road Home
The Road Home (1992), a multicultural history of the settlement of Alberta, as portrayed by writers Rudy Wiebe, Myrna Kostash, Marilyn Dumont, and Eva Brewster. 52 min. CBC.
Life After Hockey
Life After Hockey (1990), a modern-day fairy tale of how a local rink rat helped Team Canada defeat the Soviets. 52 min. Canwest Global. Best Overall, Best Drama, Best Director, Alberta Film Awards.
Littlechild (1987), the chronicle of Cree artist George Littlechild’s search for his lost parents and the soul of his people. 26 min. Canwest Global. Gemini Nomination
In Search of the Dragon
In Search of the Dragon (1986), a NOVA documentary on The Dinosaur Project - a scientific adventure into China's Gobi Desert. 84 min. PBS Nova.
The Renewable Society
The Renewable Society (1983), a television series produced for the NFB’s Challenge for Change Program, questioning the sustainability of conventional economic and industrial development. 26x28 min. NFB.
China Mission (1980), the story of teacher and diplomat Chester Ronning, who bridged East and West and led Canada to recognize of the People's Republic of China. 52 min. NFB. Prizes: San Francisco, Alberta, San Antonio, Ohio.
Triangle Island (1979), a portrait of an ecological reserve dedicated to the preservation of the flora and fauna of the Pacific rim. 16 min. NFB.
The Forests and Vladimir Krajina
The Forests and Vladimir Krajina (1977), a former Czech resistance fighter’s quest to found an ecological reserves program in British Columbia. 28 min. NFB.
Man Who Chooses the Bush
Man Who Chooses the Bush (1975), the adventures of trapper, Frank Ladouceur, fighting to preserve the traditional Métis lifestyle of the Canadian North. 28 min. NFB. Best Overall: Yorkton International.
A Slow Hello
A Slow Hello (1974), the May to September marriage of a young camp cook and an old cowboy, sharing a love for the twilight years of the ranching frontier. 26 min. NFB/CBC
Ernest Brown: Pioneer Photographer
Ernest Brown: Pioneer Photographer (1974), the opening of Western Canada through the eyes of an intrepid photographer and social activist. 52 min. Filmwest, BBC / Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Best Overall: Alberta; Yorkton International Documentary Festival.
Every Saturday Night
Every Saturday Night (1973), a reunion of dancehall musicians who survived the dirty 30s in the Alberta town of Dorothy, population: 25. 26 min. NFB/CBC.
Death of a Delta
Death of a Delta (1972), the struggle Fort Chipewyan, Alberta’s oldest community, against the massive Bennett Dam on the Peace River. 28 min. Film Frontiers / Alberta Education. Prize, Festival dei Populi, Florence.
Land (1971), a portrait of the Great Plains through the eyes of native artists and writers. 28 min. Film Frontiers, Edmonton Educational Authority.