TVO’s annual Doc Studio Contest is about to wrap up for its third year. With five finalists left, it’s up to the public’s vote to determine the winner by April 17, 2014. The theme of this year’s contest was “Docs that Matter,” with the finalists exploring topics including discrimination, loss, and religion.
The contest challenged Ontario filmmakers to create a short documentary about a topic that mattered to them in five minutes or less. Jim Bachalo, director of Ontario Bread Company, documented the oldest Polish bakery in Canada before it closed down business after 80 years. Here’s a short Q&A with Bachalo about his film and his excitement about being a finalist.
Why did you enter the TVO DOC Studio contest?
It’s not my first time to apply to a TVO shorts contest. A few years back submitted a short which didn’t win anything. But the judge, Alan Zweig, was kind enough to email me with words of support and encouragement. A long time urban dweller, I’m sensitive to the rapid pace of development in the downtown core and felt it important to tell this simple story about a business and its workers with strong European roots, whose closing would otherwise go unnoticed.
How did you feel when you found out you were a finalist?
Extremely excited and humbled. Any positive feedback is extremely encouraging after all the hard work and effort it takes to complete even a five minute short.
What were some of the challenges you faced making your documentary?
I would have to say there were actually three primary challenges. The first was the language barrier since virtually none of the workers spoke English and I cannot speak Polish. The second were the actual shooting conditions, steam and dust from the baking flour, virtually no natural light, and the at times almost deafening sound from the ovens, equipment and shouting. And finally finding time to both shoot and edit, since at the moment filmmaking is strictly something I pursue in my spare time. Hoping that might change though!
Why does this story matter?
Knowing the bakery was soon to go out of business, I felt it was important to document in some small way, these very ordinary workers as well as the bakery before it was gone. A simple story hinting at what is lost in the name of progress and efficiency as the city in general, and the bakery neighbourhood in particular, are undergoing such quick and massive changes.
Any upcoming films we can expect from you in the future? If so, what?
In the very early stages of collaborating with the owners of Musideum, a very unique music store in the 401 Richmond space. In addition to the incredible visual and aural possibilities, I think there might be an interesting story to tell.
What are your plans for Hot Docs 2014?
At the moment extremely busy with planning, pre-production for my next short but will try and make time to catch a few screenings.
In your opinion, do you think people should care more about how their food is made? Why or why not?
Of course! Especially in this era of seed patents and genetically modified crops. Anyone in doubt I’d recommend watching Food Inc., which I’ve seen a few times!