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Award-winning producer Kat Baulu shares her passion and new project

Meet Kat Baulu, a producer with Quebec/Atlantic Studio at the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada, a public producer, and distributor. In an email interview, Baulu talked about her career and the call for proposals for short films on Reimagining My Quebec.

Reimagining My Quebec is a new initiative for anglophone, allophone, and Indigenous filmmakers from Quebec and Nunavik that will give emerging and established directors a chance to create artful short documentaries with the NFB.

When it comes to what Baulu enjoys most about her work, she said she enjoys those with a clear purpose to their work. “I admire people who lead their lives with mission and purpose. One person who inspires me is legendary Abenaki filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin,” she said. “With an astonishing career spanning over five decades at National Film Board of Canada, she’s made over 50 films that focus on issues facing Indigenous people in Canada. Alanis embodies what it means to make art for social impact. It’s humbling to witness one person who truly makes a difference every day.”

Baulu’s work as a producer raises social impact, even from her previous documentary work on Gun Runners. Baulu’s role is responsible for supporting creators to tell relevant and meaningful stories about Canada to Canadians and people around the world.

“The best part of my job is accompanying filmmakers in their creative process: from idea to finished film through to impact with audiences,” she said. “I love creating conditions for filmmakers to thrive artistically and express their point of view. I root for their success.”

“Collaborating with artists in the public space is such a privilege. At the NFB, our values are driven by relevance. Every day we ask ourselves, are we raising under-represented voices? Is what we are creating valuable and meaningful?” she added. “I am thrilled to work with filmmakers on their creative interpretation of reimagining their Quebec because I believe we have a chance to surface issues of identity, class, and status for further discussion and raise consciousness about the positive change we dream about for our society, and our world.”

Baulu is excited about the current project – Reimagining My Quebec, which is an opportunity to make a short English documentary in Quebec with the NFB.

“Reimagining My Quebec is the brainchild of my executive producer Annette Clarke. She is a true champion for filmmakers and storytellers of all stripes. She is a Newfoundlander and believes that great stories often emanate from a deep sense of place,” Baulu said. “We hope this call will draw out unique and intimate stories from across Quebec, which surprise and transform us.”

The type of story she’s looking for revolves around something Scottish documentary filmmaker Scott Grierson calls, “creative interpretations of actuality,” which focusses on the human condition through point-of-view documentary storytelling. “If you have a story that you are uniquely positioned to tell, that you have a personal connection with, that you have unique access, this call for proposals is for you. We are excited about powerful, emotional and important social issue-driven stories,” Baulu said. “For us, the process is as important as the outcome. What is your relationship to your participants? How will you treat them at the beginning and the end of the process of making your film? We are enthusiastic when filmmakers are considering their ethics as well as the art and impact.”

The deadline for submissions is August 8.

Woman of the week: Julia Barnes

When I ask Julia Barnes to tell me who she is, she says, “I am an animal on this planet that’s hoping to survive this century.”

Half expecting to hear a standard, “I’m a filmmaker,” or, “I’m an environmental activist,” her raw response instantly hooked my interest.

Julia’s journey as an eco-warrior began when she was just 16 years old while attending high school in Burlington, Ontario. With her post-secondary years looming, she was, at the time, weighing her options of pursuing a career in either biology or fine arts. Then, she watched Revolution, a documentary made by the late filmmaker and conservationist, Rob Stewart, about the dire state of the natural world. Always harvesting a deep connection to nature, the movie spun Julia off her feet with striking statistics and images that revealed the rapid deterioration of planet earth.

Within a week, she ditched the fork in her career path altogether, and instead, jumped head first into documentary filmmaking. She bought a camera, signed up for a scuba diving course and delved into research that would eventually become the backbone of her first feature film: Sea of Life.

With no prior experience in filmmaking, Julia set out to probe the greatest threats facing the world’s oceans today, including warming temperatures and overfishing. Although the learning curve was steep, she felt a duty to spread awareness and pay forward the same inspiration that initially sparked her own will to change the world.

“The ocean is so often out of sight, out of mind, especially for people living in Canada and landlocked places,” she says. “What I found was that all of the people around me in my everyday life really had no idea what was happening. I wanted to educate people about what was going on so that hopefully, if they knew what was happening, they would want to fight for the ocean too.”

Growing up in Southern Ontario, Julia herself had never visited the ocean prior to filming. Her first time setting foot on the sandy saltwater shores of the Atlantic was during one of her first dives for Sea of Life in the Florida Keys. “It was amazing. On that first trip, I had my first introduction the beauty of the ocean,” she says. “But I also had the realization that the ocean is in massive trouble and that things are changing incredibly quickly. If you even go back 50 years, you realize that the underwater world looked radically different.”

From Florida, Julia continued to capture these changes and their repercussions around the world, exploring marine ecosystems in the Galapagos, attending the COP21 Summit in Paris, and participating in the largest climate march in recorded history in New York City.

Swimming in a sea of discouraging information was perhaps the most challenging element, she tells me. But, with support from many leaders on the front lines of the fight against climate change, such as Sylvia EarleEmily Hunter and Rob Stewart himself, Julia’s message in Sea of Life, although urgent, is a hopeful one. Now, at the age of 22, she is content to say that she’s met all of her greatest heroes.

When I ask Julia if she’s currently enrolled in school, she flatly replies, “Nope. I’m full on changing the world,” ‒ an answer that’s unapologetically noble. Attending school would place her on a four to five-year plan, a timeline, she says, is much too long for the well-being of the planet. Her second feature film, which tackles potential solutions to the environmental crisis, is scheduled to be released by the end of this year.

Although she’s encountered plenty of trial and error on her journey, she says that her instantaneous plunge into the ocean, the world of documentary filmmaking, and the issues that plague the natural world was perhaps the best way to learn.

“Don’t wait. Go for it and know that you have so much more power than what you’re told or what you’re taught to believe,” she says as a word of advice to other young climate crusaders. “Let your passion guide you towards doing whatever you think will have the biggest impact, because no matter what we love, it’s in jeopardy right now.