Northwest B.C. based filmmaker Michael Bourquin has been nominated for the Canadian Screen Awards for his work on the four-part documentary, British Columbia: An Untold History.
Bourquin shares the nomination with his colleague Alfonso Chin in the category of Best Photography (documentary or factual) announced last week by The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.
British Columbia: An Untold History has also been nominated for Best History Documentary Program or Series, Best Direction, Best Documentary Series, Best Editorial Research.
Released in October last year, the documentary is an immersive series that retells the history of B.C. from a diverse and inclusive perspective and includes stories from Indigenous, Chinese, Japanese, Punjabi, Black, and European communities.
Bourquin, an award winning Indigenous filmmaker of Tahltan-Gitxsan descent who resides in New Hazelton, said he woke up to a text from the director of the series, Kevin Eastwood, informing him about the nomination.
“It was a big surprise for me, I had no idea that we were even in the running,” he said.
Although pleasantly shocked, Bourquin has high praise for the documentary, the team behind it, his producers and his colleague Chin.
“When you do look at the series, you can see the photography and it’s quite incredible. There’s a lot of interviews where we took our time to make it look as good as possible just finessing the light. And part of that too is because of having a great team of incredibly talented people.”
Apart from soulful interviews and beautiful locations, the documentary is also special to Bourquin because he had the pleasure of working with his younger brother, Ramsay Bourquin, who is a locations sound mixer.
Another aspect Bourquin liked about the show was that it had an incredibly diverse team of people involved in production, making the project even more special for him.
“It’s a really important series that people should be watching,” he said, while advocating that it be played in schools to give students a deeper insight into the historical racism and displacement that several communities faced in B.C.
Bourquin has an impressive portfolio of projects dealing with social issues, and telling these stories is an important part of his art and career.
“Because no one can tell our stories better.”
He recently worked on the film Adaawk, produced by Lorna Brown and Wanda Brown, which saw families of Murdered and missing Indigenous women & girls telling their stories.
In 2013, Bourquin also made a show called Dah-Tsiye Kehke — Our Grandfather’s Footsteps which was the first Canadian broadcast of a Tahltan language film.
He won an award for his film Giving Back the Name With Respect in 2018, which documented the Haida returning the colonial name, Queen Charlotte Islands, back to the crown while B.C. recognized Haida Gwaii as the formal name in 2010.
While the Canadian Screen Awards is set to take place in April, Bourquin is balancing his excitement by working on his next projects, such as a documentary for the National Film Board with his brother, and down the pipeline there’s another short film for the American Museum of Natural History (New York). Bourquin is producing a 10 minute history of people on the West Coast for the museum’s recently renovated Northwest Coast Hall.