Peter Raymont, director, producer, editor, writer (born 28 February 1950 in Ottawa, ON). Peter Raymont is one of Canada’s most accomplished and acclaimed documentary filmmakers. After beginning his career at the NFB, he started his own production company in 1978 and co-founded the Canadian Independent Film Caucus (now the Documentary Organization of Canada) in 1982. He has won four Gemini Awards, an Emmy Award, a Genie Award and a Canadian Screen Award, as well as major prizes at the Sundance Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival, among many others.
Education and Early Career
Peter Raymont majored in political science and received a Bachelor of Arts from Queen’s University in 1971. He joined the National Film Board (NFB) in Montreal as an editor and remained there until 1978. He trained as a producer-director and was responsible for a dozen NFB films; most notably Flora: Scenes from a Leadership Convention (1976), a behind-the-scenes account of Flora Macdonald’s bid for the Tory leadership in 1976, and The Art of the Possible (1978), a look at Ontario premier Bill Davis and his cabinet.
In 1978, Peter Raymont left the NFB to form his own company, Investigative Productions, in Toronto. He has since produced and/or directed more than 100 independent documentaries and television series and won numerous awards. Magic in the Sky (1981) documented the creation of an Inuit-language TV network in the Canadian Arctic. He collaborated with James Cullingham of Tamarack Productions to produce As Long as the Rivers Flow (1991), a five-episode series on Indigenous self-government; A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada (52 episodes, 1998–2002), featuring stories of Canadian immigrants; and The New Ice Age: A Year in the Life of the NHL (1997), following professional hockey from behind the scenes.
Raymont prefers the unobtrusive approach of American direct-cinema pioneers Frederick Wiseman and D.A. Pennebaker, rather than inserting himself into the film à la Michael Moore or Nick Broomfield. In 1982 he was a founding member, with John John Walker and Rudy Buttignol, of the Canadian Independent Film Caucus (now the Documentary Organization of Canada), a lobby group for documentary filmmakers.
Raymont’s films have covered a wide range of topics; from the American manipulation of news from Central America in The World Is Watching (1988) and The World Stopped Watching (2003), to the Rwandan genocide in Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire (2004). (See Roméo Dalliare; Canadian Peacekeepers in Rwanda.) With his wife Lindalee Tracey, Raymont produced The Anatomy of Burlesque (2003), a history of burlesque. In 2004, Raymont and Tracey co-directed Bhopal: The Search for Justice, an examination of the aftermath of one of the world’s worst industrial accidents. Many of Raymont’s documentaries, produced through White Pine Pictures, were made in collaboration with Tracey until her death in 2006.
Raymont’s other films and television productions as either director or producer include: Abby, I Hardly Knew Ya (1995, Genie nomination for Best Short); The Undefended Border (2002, three episodes); Triage: Dr. James Orbinski's Humanitarian Dilemma (2008); the CBC drama series The Border (2008–10, 39 episodes); Prosecutor (2010); The Team (2010); the drama series Cracked (2011, 21 episodes); West Wind: The Vision of Tom Thomson (2011); Where the Universe Sings, The Spiritual Journey of Lawren Harris (2018); and Margaret Atwood: A Word after a Word after a Word in Power (2019).
Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould (2009), co-directed with Michele Hozer, was shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band (2019) became the first Canadian documentary to open the Toronto International Film Festival and won awards at major film festivals. Also in 2019, Raymont received the $10,000 Don Haig Award from the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival for his “vision, entrepreneurship and commitment to mentoring emerging Canadian creatives.”
- Best Writing in a Television Documentary (Prisoners of Debt: Inside the Global Banking Crisis), ACTRA Awards (1983)
- Gold Hugo (The World Is Watching), Chicago International Film Festival (1988)
- Peace Award (The World Is Watching), Berlin International Film Festival (1989)
- Best Short Documentary (The World Is Watching), Genie Awards (1989)
- Best Sports Program or Series (The New Ice Age: A Year in the Life of the NHL), Gemini Awards (1999)
- Best Direction in a Documentary Program (The World Stopped Watching), Gemini Awards (2004)
- Outstanding Team Achievement in a Documentary (Shake Hands with the Devil), DGC Team Awards (2005)
- Audience Award for Best World Documentary (Shake Hands with the Devil), Sundance Film Festival (2005)
- Best Documentary (Shake Hands with the Devil), Philadelphia Film Festival (2005)
- Best Documentary (Shake Hands with the Devil), News & Documentary Emmy Awards (2007)
- Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary Program (A Promise to the Dead: The Exile of Ariel Dorman), Gemini Awards (2008)
- Best Documentary (A Promise to the Dead: The Exile of Ariel Dorman), DGC Team Awards (2008)
- Best Biography Documentary Program (Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould), Gemini Awards (2010)
- Allan King Award for Excellence in Documentary (West Wind: The Vision of Tom Thomson), DGC Team Awards (2012)
- Honorary Doctor of Letters, Trent University (2015)
- Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary Program (Guantanamo's Child: Omar Khadr), Canadian Screen Awards (2017)
- Don Haig Award, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival (2019)
- Best of the Fest Audience Award (Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band), Palm Springs International Film Festival (2020)
- World Documentary Award (Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band), Whistler Film Festival (2020)