Industry

Quebec’s auteur documentary streaming platform Tënk goes bilingual

Following provincial success, Tënk is bringing a curated, rotating collection of films to Canadian screens from coast to coast.


Tënk, a documentary streaming platform that began in France, recently translated its success to Quebec. However, in order for the platform to grow beyond French-speaking Canada, some literal translation was needed. The streaming service announced on Wednesday, Feb. 17 that it will soon launch a new bilingual version on Friday, February 26. A program highlighting English language films will follow the bilingual launch.

“It was just a matter of being accessible, because that’s one of our core values,” said Florence Lamothe, Co-Director and Acquisitions Manager of Tënk. “We want the films to be seen by everyone because we believe that they have a social role in our society.”

The origins of the documentary streaming platform were actually the subject of a documentary itself. The Grocer’s Son, the Mayor, the Village and the World screened at RIDM 2020 in the fall, and tells the origin story of Tënk as it intersects with a story about work in rural France.

“It gave birth to this peculiar model where we’re two different societies, but we’re working in close collaboration,” said Lamothe of the platform’s expansion from France to Canada. “At the same time, each platform has to have its own gaze. It has to speak to the needs in each country.”

In the age of streaming giants like Netflix and Disney+, competition is fierce. Tënk differentiates itself by focusing solely on documentaries, presenting rotating collections that are curated by filmmakers, critics, academics, and film lovers. The streaming platform also makes substantial space for Quebec documentaries to be showcased. In fall 2020, Tënk hosted a selection of Peter Wintonick’s films curated by his daughter, Mira Burt-Wintonick. Upcoming highlights include a series on laughter by documentary filmmaker Christine Chevarie, a five-film program curated by philosopher Alain Deneault that considers the economy, and a retrospective of the films of late Italian director Cecilia Mangini.

The platform is focused on growing its subscriber base across Canada before branching out into new projects, explains Lamothe. If it is successful in doing so, Lamothe says Tënk would like to expand further as a tool in academic settings, specifically in the social sciences. Kanopy and NFB.ca are successful models for streaming platforms that integrate the educational and entertainment values of film for institutions. Lamothe could also see Tënk branching out into the production side of things in the future, being involved in creating and funding original content for the platform.

While Tënk has big dreams, it is keeping things simple for now – artful documentaries collected for you to stream in one place. Films currently on the site include Laura Bari’s Primas, Deborah Stratman’s In Order Not to Be Here, and a collection of films by Michel Brault.

The new edition will kick off with a free preview weekend that will run from 7 p.m. on February 26 until midnight on February 28. The preview period can be accessed here by entering the code DISCOVERTENK. After that, a subscription is required to access the platform.