Niobe Thompson wins The Edmonton Film Prize for The Great Human Odyssey

The Great Human OdysseyLeading up to the Canadian Screen Awards nominations on January 19, 2016, momentum is growing for last year’s epic human-origins documentary series, The Great Human Odyssey. Winning six Alberta Film Awards shortly after its world premiere last winter including “Best Documentary Series,” “Best Cinematography” and “Best Direction,” the series won twice as many AFAs as any other Alberta production in 2015.

After its world premiere broadcast on CBC TV’s The Nature of Things, the three-part series will premiere in the USA in 2016 on PBS NOVA, and is currently airing on major public broadcasters in: UK, France, Germany Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Italy, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Russia. “The Great Human Odyssey is also broadcasting on Discovery by satellite in Asia/Pacific (13 countries including China) and Africa.

And now, The Great Human Odyssey has won the Edmonton Film Prize, which comes with a cash prize of $8,000 for series Producer and Director Niobe Thompson of Clearwater Films. The prize was announced at a reception on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 at MacEwan University.

The Edmonton Film Prize is an annual cash prize to recognize Edmonton-based filmmakers who demonstrate artistic and technical excellence as a filmmaker. The award is sponsored by the City of Edmonton through the Edmonton Arts Council and is administered by the Alberta Media Production Industries Association. Entries are judged by an independent jury of filmmakers, presenters, broadcasters and members of the film community.

Launched in 2012 by the Edmonton Arts Council, the Edmonton Film Prize celebrates the best in Edmonton’s screen-based industries.

Produced for CBC’s The Nature of Things in Canada and PBS NOVA in the United States, The Great Human Odyssey explores the emergence of our ancestors in Africa and our journeys to settle the planet. Thompson led a Canadian film crew on an 18-month journey across five continents, filming with Bajdao free-diving nomads in the Philippines, San Bushmen in the Namibian Kalahari, Chukchi reindeer nomads in Arctic Russia, and Crocodile People in the most remote part of Papua New Guinea. The spectacular final sequence of the series, in which Russian Inuit nest-raiders travel by skin umiak across an ice-choked sea to gather the eggs of the thick-billed murre on 600-foot cliffs, took two summer seasons to complete.

The Great Human Odyssey was one of the first documentaries in Canada to be filmed in 4K resolution, using digital cinema cameras on aerial drones and underwater, and filming in extreme heat and cold on expeditions. Unusual for Canadian film, the series boasts a live-recorded symphonic score, composed and conducted by LA-based film composer Darren Fung and recorded with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and ProCoro Canada.

One year after its Canadian premiere, the series will now be reincarnated as a completely re-edited live orchestral performance. The Great Human Odyssey in Concert will debut as a feast of images and sound with an 80-minute choral and symphonic performance at Edmonton’s Winspear Centre on February 25th. A Canada-US tour will follow.

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