We began a new series last week looking at online video platforms in Canada which feature projects developed through NSI and projects by NSI for your viewing pleasure. Some are free, and others require signup or are paid subscriptions which you probably have already.
In part two of the series, we’ve dug deep into the free content at CBC Gem. Pass the popcorn – there’s something for everyone!
Developed through NSI
Writer/director Danishka Esterhazy and producer Stephanie Chapelle
Trapped in a prison-like school, 16-year-old Vivien reunites with her former best friend Sophia to embark on a dangerous search to uncover the horrifying truth behind their imprisonment.
Developers/writers/executive producers Mark Montefiore and Andrew De Angelis
A modern-day parable of an entitled jackass who, for the first time in his life, is challenged to be a good person when he’s told that he’s the Second Coming of Christ.
‘da Kink in my Hair | 2007 | season 1 | 22:40 mins | NSI Totally Television
Co-creator/writer/executive producer Trey Anthony and executive producer Damion Nurse developed the series through NSI Totally Television; co-creator/writer/executive producer Ngozi Paul (NSI Global Marketing), writer/director Sudz Sutherland (NSI Totally Television), director E. Jane Thompson (NSI Features First)
‘da Kink in my Hair centres on Letty’s, a salon in Toronto’s Caribbean community. The kind of neighbourhood place where women go to let their hair down in more ways than one.
Directed by Jon Berg with Shauntelle George and Joe Courchene
Sheila Williams is doing laundry in her apartment complex. When she goes to switch her clothes to the dryer, she props open her front door with the deadbolt giving a stranger access to her apartment.
Nappy Hair & Eagle Feather | 2018 | 5:57 mins | CBC New Indigenous Voices
Directed by Adeline Bird with Diandre Thomas-Hart and Daniel Bear
Maleena is the only mixed-race student in her school and experiences racism from her school friends, but does not understand why. With the help of her loving and understanding mother, Maleena is able to reconcile her identity as a mixed-raced girl.
Forgotten | 2017 | 6:16 mins | CBC New Indigenous Voices
Directed by Jesse Spence with Alexis Leask and Andy Lown
Levi lives a simple life until escalating visions too strong to ignore lead him to reconnect to his Indigenous heritage.
Star Line | 2017 | 6:21 mins | CBC New Indigenous Voices
Directed by Nikita Day with Ryan Cooper and Chris Eastman
A scared Indigenous woman on the run encounters two young girls who offer her refuge in exchange for a story. But the demons of her past may threaten the safety of them all before she can finish.
Writer/director Christine Buijs, producer Shannon Fewster
Carla, a seasoned wedding photographer, has just been dumped – right before she needs to shoot a wedding. Unable to hold back her feelings any more, she loses it in front of a happy bride and groom. She turns to her best friend, Kayla, who is about to go through the proceedings of a painful divorce, and begs Kayla to let her shoot the impending un-coupling. Carla becomes obsessed with this new idea, and word of the divorce photographer spreads like wildfire. It’s all about honesty: as long as Carla doesn’t have to be honest with herself.
NSI alumni projects
Bachman | 2018 | 78 mins
Writer/director John Barnard, producer Kyle Bornais, executive producer Chris Charney (all NSI Features First)
A profile of one of the most prolific and legendary artists in the history of Canadian music, Randy Bachman.
Colonization Road | 2016 | 44:08 mins
Director/writer/producer Michelle St. John (NSI IndigiDocs), producer Shane Belcourt (NSI Totally Television)
Comedian Ryan McMahon travels Ontario’s colonization roads learning about their impact on First Nations and settlers.
Headdress | 2017 | 6 mins
Writer/director J.J. Neepin (NSI IndigiDocs)
Filmmaker J.J. Neepin recreates her great-grandfather’s portrait and explores the responsibility of wearing a headdress. “To me, the headdress is a symbol of leadership.”
Humboldt: The New Season | 2019 | 44:08 mins
Executive producer Chris McIvor (NSI Business for Producers)
A look at how families, survivors and a community are pulling together to heal after the devastating Humboldt Broncos bus crash.
Indictment: The Crimes of Shelly Chartier | 2017 | 44:08 mins
Writer/director/co-producer Lisa Jackson (Featuring Aboriginal Stories Program), Shane Belcourt (NSI Totally Television), executive producer/producer Chris McIvor (NSI Business for Producers), Orlando Braun (NSI Business for Producers)
A true crime cat-fishing story about a reclusive young woman from a small Manitoba First Nation that made international headlines.
nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up | 2019 | 98 mins
Director Tasha Hubbard (NSI IndigiDocs)
On August 9, 2016, a 22-year-old Cree man named Colten Boushie was killed by a gunshot to the back of his head after entering a rural farm property in Saskatchewan with his friends. When an all-white jury acquitted the white farmer of all charges, the case received international attention and sent Colten’s family and community on a quest to fix the Canadian justice system.
Run as One: The Journey of the Front Runners | 2018 | 19:07 mins
Director Erica Daniels (CBC New Indigenous Voices, NSI IndigiDocs)
In 1967, 10 Indigenous athletes ran the Pan Am Games torch from Minneapolis to Winnipeg. Just before they entered the opening ceremonies, the torch was handed to a white athlete.
The Road Forward | 2017 | 101 mins
Writer/director Marie Clements (NSI Storytellers, Featuring Aboriginal Stories Program)
A musical documentary that connects a pivotal moment in Canada’s civil rights history – the beginnings of Indian Nationalism in the 1930s.
Fubar | 2002 | 76 mins
Writer/director/producer Michael Dowse (NSI Drama Prize)
Headbangers Terry and Dean explore the depths of friendship, and the art and science of drinking beer like a man.
Maudie | 2016 | 115 mins
Producer Mary Sexton (NSI Features First)
Based on the true story of Nova Scotia painter Maud Lewis, who overcame the physical challenge of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis to become one of Canada’s best known and most loved folk artists.
The Breadwinner | 2017 | 93 mins
Producer Anthony Leo (NSI Totally Television, NSI Global Marketing)
An animated film about a headstrong young girl in Afghanistan who disguises herself as a boy in order to provide for her family.
Werewolf | 2016 | 80 mins
Writer/director/producer Ashley McKenzie, producer Nelson MacDonald (both NSI Drama Prize)
The difficult existence of a pair of homeless drug addicts is shown with harsh honesty and surprising sensitivity in McKenzie’s highly acclaimed debut feature.
Note: earlier seasons of some shows require signup to watch.
Baroness Von Sketch Show | 2016- | Seasons 1-4 | 21:38 mins
Director Jordan Canning (NSI Drama Prize), director Jeremy LaLonde (NSI Totally Television), supervising producer Jeff Peeler (NSI Global Marketing)
A subversive all-female ensemble that features some of Canada’s best sketch comedians as they take aim right down the barrel of contemporary social trends and office politics.
Mr. D | 2012-18 | Seasons 1-8 | 21:35 mins
Writer Andrew De Angelis (NSI Totally Television), writer/supervising producer Sara Snow (NSI Drama Prize), writer Marvin Kaye (NSI Totally Television), line producer Shauna Hatt (NSI Drama Prize)
Based on Gerry Dee’s real-life experiences as a teacher before he moved to comedy full-time, Mr. D is the story of a charming, under-qualified teacher trying to fake his way through a teaching job.
Schitt’s Creek | 2015-20 | Seasons 1-6 | 21:53 mins
Director Jordan Canning (NSI Drama Prize)
When the filthy-rich Roses suddenly find themselves broke they’re forced to rebuild their empire within their only remaining asset – Schitt’s Creek, an arm pit of a town they once bought as a joke.
Burden of Truth | 2018- | Seasons 1-3 | 44:16 mins
Director Michelle Latimer (NSI Drama Prize), Jordan Canning (NSI Drama Prize), writer Mary Galloway (TELUS STORYHIVE), producer/executive producer Kyle Irving (NSI Global Marketing), co-executive producer Lisa Meeches (NSI Storytellers)
A big city lawyer returns to her small town to win a legal case only to discover a mysterious illness affecting local teenage girls.
Diggstown | 2019- | Seasons 1-2 | 43:45 mins
Writer/executive producer/series producer Floyd Kane (NSI Totally Television)
Diggstown follows Marcie Diggs, a star corporate lawyer who reconsiders her priorities after her beloved aunt commits suicide following a malicious prosecution. The team of lawyers that Marcie works with are a curious band of do-gooders, cynics and scrappers – messy souls struggling to keep personal disappointment and demons out of their practice.
Fortunate Son | 2020- | Season 1 | 43:45 mins
Executive producer Erin Haskett (NSI Drama Prize)
A one-hour drama about changing the world: draft dodgers, civil rights, rock and roll, free love and the other impossible dreams of 1968. It’s about war, spies, cops, abusive power and the dark side of unchecked idealism.
Heartland | 2007- | Seasons 1-13 | 44:10 mins
Interactive producer/associate producer Scott Lepp (NSI Features First)
A sprawling multi-generational saga about a family getting through the highs and lows of life on a horse ranch, set against the stunning vistas of the foothills of Alberta.
The Detectives | 2018- | Seasons 1-3 | 43 mins
Writer Sean K. Robb (NSI Totally Television)
The award-winning, critically-acclaimed The Detectives returns for a third season of compelling true-crime drama. This season explores some of Canada’s landmark homicide cases, all told through the eyes of the dedicated detectives who worked to solve them.
Detention Adventure | 2019- | Season 1 | 11 mins
Co-creator/writer/director/executive producer Joe Kicak (NSI Drama Prize), director Lisa Rose Snow (NSI Drama Prize), executive producer Lauren Corber (NSI Totally Television), executive producer Ryan West (NSI Features First)
Three nerdy friends and the school bully must get themselves thrown into detention to find the entrance to a labyrinth of trap-laden tunnels protecting the fabled hidden lab of Alexander Graham Bell.
Endlings | 2020- | Season 1 | 21:45 mins
Director Melanie Orr (NSI Diverse TV Director), writer/co-executive producer Mark De Angelis (NSI Totally Television)
Set 20 years in the future, Endlings is the empowering story of four kids in foster care who discover they’re not alone in the universe, even though sometimes it can feel like they are.
Alumni: if you have other films on CBC Gem that are free to watch, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Keep the story going and donate today
At NSI, we’re passionate about nurturing storytellers because stories connect us all.
Please consider a donation to support our talented students as part of your charitable giving. Big or small, your gift will provide value-added essentials that enhance their training experience.
Tax receipts are issued for all gifts. Thank you for considering a donation.