Tuesday, March 22, 2011: White Pine Pictures is proud to announce its new feature documentary The Team will be having its Canadian premiere at the 2011 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.

Part of the World Showcase programme—the Festival’s immensely popular survey of the year’s finest non-fiction films from around the world—the Canadian premiere is scheduled for 6:30pm, May 1st, at the Royal Cinema, Toronto, and will be attended by director Patrick Reed, and producers Peter Raymont and Kelly Jenkins.

The Canadian premiere follows its international debut at the prestigious 2010 International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)—one of only fifteen films in competition—and subsequently at other notable festivals (Full Frame; London International Documentary Festival; Human Rights Watch Film Festival, London).

The Team was launched in 2009, when it won the coveted Canwest HotDocs Pitch Prize. It subsequently received significant funding from the highly competitive ITVS International Open Call, and the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program—the only Canadian project that year to receive these honours. Such support, allowed the filmmakers the rare opportunity to film multiple times in Kenya over the course of a year, following the making of a provocative TV soap opera that hoped to save the nation.

Kenya has long been considered Africa’s success story—relatively stable and ethnically harmonious.

But following their December 2007 Presidential election, everything changed. Voting controversy split the country along ethnic lines, pushing Kenya to civil war.

The international community intervened, a fragile peace was brokered, and a Truth and Reconciliation framework put in place. But as ethnic suspicion and violence continue to paralyze the country, many dismiss these actions as hollow political theatre.

An alternative local response is the creation of a taboo-breaking TV soap opera, “The Team,” following the struggles of a co-ed multi-ethnic soccer squad to overcome their differences, both on and off the pitch.

There’s inherent drama behind any TV production: will deadlines be met; will it be good? But here the stakes are exponentially higher: if you don’t captivate an audience, you risk further losing your country.

The Team is an intense, character-driven documentary offering a unique look at youth culture and popular media, following characters on and off the set, exploring how lives are reflected in the soap, and vice-versa. What can a soap opera achieve in a place desperate for change but teetering on the brink? Watch and see.

Director Patrick Reed describes the experience of making the film: “I’ve had the pleasure and challenge of making a number of films in various parts of Africa. These films—including “Shake Hands with the Devil,” and “Triage,” both with Peter Raymont of White Pine Pictures—were neither easy to make, nor easy to watch. I was hardly suffering from “Africa fatigue,” but wanted to explore a different side of so-called African story: one that wasn’t about a Western outsider on a pilgrimage back to the past, or on a crusade into the future. Rather, a present story where Africans played the starring role, and possibly one that was more heart-warming than heartbreaking. Without giving too much away, that was a bit of wishful thinking on my part. When the story took an unexpected turn at the end, I remember asking one of the young actors: ‘What happened? What about the whole ‘A Star is Born’ kind of storyline?’ He said: ‘Unfortunately, life is not a fairy-tale.’ A reminder that there’s no script for life, or documentary, and what happens, happens.”

The Team is a White Pine Pictures production. Produced in association with ITVS International, and Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program / Stories of Change
supported by the Skoll Foundation. Distributed by Films Transit International.

White Pine Pictures is an independent Canadian film, television, and new media production company based in Toronto, Canada. Headed by award-winning filmmaker, Peter Raymont, the company is recognized internationally as a high quality production house with a reputation for compelling visual styles and depth of content. White Pine Pictures prides itself on its longtime relationships with Canadian talent and key industry players worldwide. White Pine has produced over 100 films, including the Emmy award-winning feature documentary Shake Hands With The Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire, two Oscar-shortlisted features; A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman, and Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould, and the award-winning documentary Triage: Dr. James Orbinski’s Humanitarian Dilemma. White Pine Pictures is also producer of the hit TV drama series The Border.

For further information:
Davida Gragor
416-703-5580 ext 245