FE attended the Canadian launch event for Sundance Now streaming channel. Sundance Now (previously known as Doc Club) is an offshoot of the famed Sundance Film Festival (started by actor/director Robert Redford). For the first time, Canadians can enjoy Sundance Now‘s innovative programming in documentaries, films, and tv series, which are available on its app, through Apple TV, and on the web.

The evening started off with the VIP Media cocktail reception at Frank Restaurant. Guests dined on gourmet hot dogs and poutine and got to chat with special guests
George Schmalz (Sundance Now curator) and Jan Diedrichsen ( Sundance Now general manager) and CBC Arts’ reporter Peter Knegt.

After the reception, guests headed to Jackman Theatre for a screening of short clips from some of Sundance Now’s programs. There was an interesting mix of documentary and foreign programs.

Take 5: A More Perfect Patriot is a short film series where a variety of filmmakers explore ideas about patriotism. In the clip that was shown, Kiran Deol profiled her family and their feelings and experiences as being newer US citizens.

The Bureau is an award-winning French political thriller series that focuses on a French intelligence officer who returns to Paris after six years as an undercover agent in Syria. He has the hard challenge of going back to his old life and detaching from his undercover identity.

Gaza Surf Club is a German documentary about teenage surfers in Gaza who seek release from tensions through the sport.

Travel Man is a British travel documentary series where host Richard Ayoade and a celebrity guest (Chris O’Dowd in the clip shown) spend 48 hours in a popular city checking out the must-see tourist attractions.

After the screening, CBC‘s Peter Knegt conducted a Q & A with George Schmalz. Schmalz said that Sundance Now pays special attention to independent cinema, arthouse, and foreign films. It features programs with new perspectives not shown elsewhere and is a forum to introduce new voices and stories to the world. For the Canadian launch,
writer/director Bruce MacDonald guest curated and picked his favourites. Previous curators include actors Susan Sarandon and Danny Glover. Sundance Now plans to have a more Canadian focus in its programming, and this will expose Canadian films and series to US subscribers. It is also open to programming web series and projects from emerging filmmakers in both narrative and documentaries Schmalz added that some programs come from Sundance Film Festival and others from festivals like Hot Docs.

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