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January 8, 1965 |
Jennifer Abbott (born 8 January 1965) is a Canadian director, cinematographer and editor, best known as a documentary filmmaker. Her first feature documentary, A Cow at My Table (1998), explores contemporary Western attitudes to livestock and meat production. More recently, she served as co-director and editor of the widely acclaimed documentary, The Corporation (2003), which critically examines large corporations in the modern world. That film won numerous international film awards, including a Genie for best documentary, an audience award from the Sundance Film Festival, and a Top Ten Films of the Year designation from the Toronto International Film Festival. Her previous work includes the experimental short Skinned, and as editor for Two Brides and a Scalpel: Diary of a Lesbian Marriage (1999). She is also the editor of the book Making Video 'In': The Contested Ground of Alternative Video on the West Coast. She has taught at the Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design in Vancouver.
Abbott’s first film was A Cow at My Table (1998). The film addresses the ongoing battle between animal advocates and the meat industry in hopes to educate the Western consumer. Five years in production took Abbott across Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand to meet with leading activists for the animal rights movement, as well as spokesmen from livestock industries.
In 2000, Abbott collaborated with director Mark Achbar to create Two Brides and a Scalpel: Diary of a Lesbian Marriage (2000). The documentary is a low-budget video diary of the first legally married lesbian couple in Canada. The film received multiple festival invitations, and was later broadcast on Canadian television networks.
Abbott continued her collaboration with Mark Achbar in 2003 when they co-directed the critically acclaimed documentary film, The Corporation (2003), written by Joel Bakan. The project began when Achbar and Bakan met at a funeral and realized they were both interested in globalization and its impact on society. The fact that no one had yet made a documentary on this issue shocked them both, so they decided to create one themselves. The film critically explores modern day corporations and the rise of dominant upper class institutions through the evaluation of corporate behavior towards society and the world at large. Through incorporating interviews with 40 corporate insiders and real-life case studies, Abbott hopes that the film will ultimately inspire strategies for change. During the editing process, Abbott went through over 800 pages of interview transcripts. These transcripts were digitized and narrowed down until she felt the material had narrative flow and would resonate emotionally with the audience. It was important to her that the documentary did not force ideas onto the audience, but rather to ask more questions and keep it open to interpretation. During the filming of the documentary, Bakan wrote the book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power.
Abbott became involved with the documentary I Am (2011) after director Tom Shadyac saw The Corporation (2003) and invited Abbott to work as the editor on the film. The documentary explores Shadyac’s personal journey after a 2007 bicycle accident caused him to suffer from post-concussion syndrome. Abbott had an immediate connection with the film’s subject matter, beliefs, and core philosophy. Abbott worked remotely on the film from her home in Canada for two years.
Awards and nominations
A Cow at My Table
- Gold Special Jury Award, WorldFest Houston 99, A Cow at My Table
- Best Documentary, New Jersey International Film Festival 99, A Cow at My Table
- Best Documentary, Narrowsburg International Film Festival, NY 99, A Cow at My Table
- 1st PRIZE, Video Awards Promoting Respect for All Life, Latham Foundation, CA 00
- Media Commendation Award, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, 99, A Cow at My Table
- Silver Certificate, Prix Leonardo International Festival of Film & TV, Italy 99, A Cow at My Table
The Corporation (2003)
- Audience Award, World Cinema, Documentary, Sundance Film Festival
- Insight Award for Excellence, National Association of Film and Digital Media Artists, USA
- Best Documentary, The Genie Awards, 2005
- Genesis Award for Outstanding Documentary Film, United States Humane Society
- Audience Award for Best Feature Length Film, Ecocinema International Film Festival, Rhodes
- Best Feature Documentary, Environmental Media Association Awards
- Reel Room Audience Award for Best Documentary, Sydney Film Festival
- Joris Ivens Special Jury Award, International Documentary Festival, Amsterdam
- NFB Best Documentary Award, Calgary International Film Festival
- Best Feature Length Documentary, Ecocinema International Film Festival, Rhodes
- Top Ten Films of the Year, Toronto International Film Festival Group
- Best Documentary Program or Series - History/Biography/Social/Political, Leo Award
- Best Direction in a Documentary Program or Series, Leo Award
- Best Picture Editing in a Documentary Program or Series, Leo Award
- Best Documentary (1st runner-up), Seattle International Film Festival
- Special Jury Mention, Montreal New Film And Video Festival
- Audience Award, Philadelphia International Film Festival
- Audience Award, Vancouver International Film Festival
- Audience Award, Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival
- Audience Award, FIC Brasilia International Film Festival
- Audience Award (1st runner-up), Calgary International Film Festival
- Audience Award (1st runner-up), Toronto International Film Festival
I Am (2011)
- Documentary Award - Catholics in Media Associates (CIMA) - 2012
- A Cow at My Table (1998)
- I Am (2011)
- Let It Ride (2006)
- The Corporation (2003)
- Two Brides and a Scalpel: Diary of a Lesbian Marriage (2000)
- I Am (2011)
- West, Dennis (2004). "The Life and Times of the Corporation: An Interview with Jennifer Abbott". Cineaste. Winter: 1–33.
- Libcom. Retrieved 2012-05-04.
- "I Am" Official Site. Retrieved 2012-05-04.
- "The Corporation Film: Awards". Thecorporation.com. 2007-04-05. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
- Documentary Award: CIMA. Retrieved 2012-05-04.