Neve Campbell is boarding the documentary Swan Song as executive producer. The film, which was announced yesterday to make its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, follows legendary ballerina Karen Kain as her nearly-50-year career in dance culminates with her first venture as a director by guiding a production of Swan Lake featuring the next generation of dancers. The film is directed by Chelsea McMullan (Ever Deadly) and co-written and produced by Sean O’Neill (LIDO TV). Swan Song offers a vérité-driven perspective of Kain’s final days with the National Ballet of Canada.
“This project is deeply personal to me given my longtime admiration for Karen Kain and The National Ballet of Canada, starting with my time as a student at Canada’s National Ballet School,” said Campbell in a release. “Ballet was my first love, and Swan Song beautifully captures the incredible devotion, artistry and sacrifices that dancers make in their pursuit of creating something beautiful and meaningful. I’m so proud of our team and I can’t wait to celebrate the film.”
Campbell, who is expected to attend TIFF in support of the film, studied dance at Canada’s National Ballet School and flexed her muscles playing a ballerina in Robert Altman’s backstage drama The Company, which she also produced. Campbell’s star status, in addition to Kain’s legacy, demonstrates how docs could gain a greater spotlight at this year’s festival if the Hollywood strikes continue.
“Agreeing to open up the creative process of a brand new production of Swan Lake to a crew of filmmakers was a vulnerable act, to say the least,” added Kain in a statement. “However, the film’s extraordinary crew made the process far more intuitive than I expected and by the end, it felt as if we were all in it together. I look forward to celebrating the film and everyone involved this fall, most especially the extraordinary artists and staff at The National Ballet of Canada who brought Swan Lake to life.”
Swan Song will screen theatrically as a feature this fall from Blue Ice Docs before debuting in an expanded four-part version on CBC and CBC Gem. Joining Campbell as executive producers are McMullan, O’Neill, Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, Anna Godas and Oli Harbottle, while Christina Carvalho joins O’Neill as producer.
“Making Swan Song has been an epic, three-year journey and I’m thrilled to finally be sharing the film with audiences, at TIFF and beyond,” added McMullan. “Collaborating with such a talented, dedicated team to realize a project so ambitious has changed me as a filmmaker, and Neve’s sensitivity and deep understanding of the life of a ballet dancer has enriched our process immeasurably. I want to thank our subjects and The National Ballet of Canada for trusting us with their awe-inspiring work and moving stories.”
Additional TIFF docs are expected to be announced shortly.