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Who we are ?

The Alter-Ciné Foundation was created in the memory of Canadian filmmaker, Yvan Patry, who passed away on October 14, 1999. Patry was a co-founder of the production company Alter Ciné and directed numerous documentaries and current affairs programs in Africa, Latin America and Asia: "… documentaries should go against the tide," he said, "they should bear witness and spur us to action."

His films have been screened around the world:
  • “Chronicle of A Genocide Foretold” (Rwanda) won the Canadian Chalmers Prize for Excellence and Creativity, and the Award for Best Feature Documentary at the HotDocs! Festival in Toronto.
  • “The Forbidden Land” (Eritrea) took the Prix du Jury at the Nyon Festival (Switzerland), and the Blue Ribbon Award at the American Film and Video Festival.
  • “Denial” (El Salvador) was awarded Quebec's Judith-Jasmin Award.
  • “Alonso's Dream” (Mexico) won the Dirk Van Der Sypen Award for the Best Documentary shot in Latin America.

Patry’s documentaries have contributed to tearing down walls of silence, denouncing injustice and barbarism, and giving voice to victims of horror.

The Alter-Ciné Foundation is inspired by this ethics. The Foundation offers a yearly grant to young film and video makers from Africa, Asia and Latin America to direct a documentary film on the theme of rights and freedoms, including social and economic rights, women’s rights, the right to culture and artistic creation.

The Foundation particularly supports documentary films that dare to go against the tide, that take the side of the defenceless and question common assumptions by giving a voice to the voiceless, enriching our understanding of the world and helping us reflect on the possibility of changing the world from a perspective of peace, justice, equality and respect for differences.

In the past 15 years, 1,320 film projects from 75 countries have been submitted to the Foundation. 52 filmmakers, including 26 women, have received grants to assist in the production of their vitally important documentaries. A jury of Quebec filmmakers, producers, human rights activists and international development experts convene each year to select the winners. There's a great diversity to the themes that have won the jury's confidence:

  • “My First Contact” (Brazil) tells the story of first encounter of indigenous people with Whites in Brazil, and the later consequences of the encounter (lost of identity and land).
  • “Keiskamma: A Story of Love” takes us into a South African village where women fight the encroaching Aids epidemic.
  • “Raymundo” takes us back to the military repression of filmmakers by the dictatorship in Argentina.
  • “Bajo todos los fuegos” takes place in a village in Colombia, where people caught between guerrillas and paramilitary death squads fight for peace.
  • “Oscar” is a portrait of the resistance of an artist against the invasion of street-level advertising in Argentina.

These emerging filmmakers are determined to express their realities. To do so, they often struggle against enormous odds, using the limited means at their disposal. They are motivated by a profound conviction that films can make a difference, increasing awareness, building bridges, stimulating and moving audiences to reflect and to take action. These filmmakers are convinced that documentary films constitute an "intelligent", non-violent weapon for change. And they sincerely believe that efforts to denounce injustice and defend individual and collective rights and freedoms can contribute to make the world a better place.

Many recipients of our foundation's grants have won at important festivals around the world:
  • “Raymundo” has won 16 international awards, including Best Documentary at the Malaga Festival, and the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Latin American Film Festival and at the Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal;
  • “My First Contact” took the First Prize at the Horizons Dokfest Festival in Munich; the Rigoberta Menchu Grand Prize at the Land-in-Sight indigenous Festival in Montreal; and an Award at the Brazilian Environmental Festival (FICA).
  • “Oscar” won Best Anthropological Documentary Award at the Argentina Human Rights Festival; the JVC Award at the Guadalajara Film Festival; and Special Mention at Cuba's “Festival del cine pobre.”
  • “Une affaire de nègres” captured the TV5 Award for Best Documentary at the Vues d'Afrique Festival in Montreal, as well as the Oxfam Image of Women Award, for its courage and lucidity, and for the exactitude and human vision.
  • “Garden” won many awards, including in Madrid, Turin, Yamagata, Seattle, and Seville, and was selected for Sundance Festival.
  • “Nos lieux interdits” captured the Best Documentary Award at FESPACO (Burkina Faso), and the Micheline Vaillancourt Prize awarded by France's International Radio and Television Council (CIRTEF).

The Alter-Ciné Foundation's Board members:
  • Jocelyne Clarke, filmmaker
  • Madeleine Desnoyers, consultant
  • Julien Élie, filmmaker
  • Daniel Ferguson, filmmaker
  • Étienne Gagnon, editor
  • Ole Gjerstad, filmmaker
  • Danièle Lacourse, filmmaker
  • Gilles Lacourse, architect
  • Claire Lapointe, producer, translator and development expert
  • Franck Le Coroller, filmmaker
  • Katia Paradis, filmmaker
  • Pierre Patry, engineer, former CEO Soprin
  • Erica Pomerance, filmmaker
  • Alexandre Trudeau, filmmaker

To apply, see the section Documentary Film Grants

Yvan Patry, Canadian filmmaker