Edmonton-based Gemini Award winning producer, director and writer Rosvita Dransfeld produces character-driven, cinema vérité feature documentaries. In a body of work that includes more than 300 short films and documentaries, the German-born filmmaker searches for ‘the truth behind the curtain’. She is dedicated to using cinema as a catalyst for social and political change and to writing, producing and directing powerful pieces of poetry on the human condition.
The Ward chronicles the many challenges in the lives of the renal patients, capturing their daily trials and triumphs in their battle for survival. The hour-long documentary, produced in association with the CBC, profiles the day-to-day experiences of several patients at the Renal Institute in Edmonton’s university hospital. Despite its status as one of the world’s most renowned centers for organ transplantation, the hospital has had to extend its kidney units to other wards to meet the upsurge in demand for life-extending dialysis.
Rosie and her team at ID Productions are now working with anthropologist and filmmaker Niobe Thompson on two new transplant film projects together with members of the Alberta Transplant Institute and the CNTRP. The first is a point of view (POV)-style film on donation for theatrical release, co-produced with the National Film Board of Canada, and the second will be a science-documentary on transplantation for CBC’s The Nature of Things.
Anti-Social Unlimited (2014) centres on Ojibway Chris Hoard, a streetwise ex-convict who wants to escape the abuse, the crime, the addictions, the racism, and the lies. He never asked for the life he got, but he works with what he has. Abandoned and abused by those who were supposed to love him most, Chris spent most of his adult life behind bars. Now he’s leaving that all behind, he’s doing his best to transfer his business acumen as a former drug dealer to get his Native construction company up and running. Winner of the 2014 Edmonton Film Prize.
Who Cares? (2012) follows the cyclical addictions, violence and emotional turmoil of the highly vulnerable girls and women who are Sex Trade workers in Edmonton. It presents a heart-wrenching story that is incredibly important to watch. “Who Cares”, made its World Premiere at Hot Docs 2012.
Broke (2009) is set in an Edmonton pawnshop. Its owner, David Woolfson, a bone-hard Jewish merchant from South Africa, is a banker of last resort for the down-and-out residents of Edmonton’s grim and unforgiving inner city. Dransfeld’s style draws us deep into a world of bargaining, insults, poverty and desperation. Winner of the Donald Brittain Gemini Award for best social-political documentary.
Some of Rosie’s other films include:
- Call of the Yukon (2014), a three-part diverse languages series portrays German-speaking Yukoners and their interesting live styles in the North-West of Canada.
- Dogwalker (2009) focuses on Michael Borowski. Misunderstood and abused over a period of thirty years, he decides to turn away from people and be with the dogs. They taught him to love and respect himself. Now he is ready to face the world surrounding him.
- Bosses (2006) explores the reasons why bullies, control freaks, micromanagers, or bumbling fools can be found in all organizations. What turns them into brutes and ignoramus who love making their underlings squirm, whose moods radiate through the office, sending workers scurrying for cover, and whose very voices cause stomach muscles to clench and pulses to quicken? These are the questions the film seeks to answer.
- Mothers of Courage (2003) captures an intimate glimpse into the struggles and joys of a family with a special-needs child and how a person with disabilities can thrive if given adequate support.
- Crash Course Alberta (2002) is a made-for-television documentary that sets out to explore the persistent undercurrent of sentiment that calls for Alberta to separate from the rest of Canada. It is a minority view but the voices are loud and prominent. They have a way of being heard. The opposition to the Kyoto Accord by many influential Albertans recalls the protest against the National Energy Program of the mid-80s. Crash Course Alberta is a chronicle of her encounters throughout Alberta with a university political science professor, a cattle auctioneer, a rancher, a farmer, an Alberta-based national newsmagazine publisher, an evangelical minister, a writer, an oil rig worker and the like.When asked about her motivation to undertake such a quest Ms. Dransfeld responds,
I endured the long-winded Canadian immigration procedures to become part of the best country in the world. But when I landed in Alberta, I found people speaking quite disparagingly about my newly adopted country. While it was confusing, it also inspired me to investigate and air the issues.
Cinema Politica Artist Talk with director Rosie Dransfeld: