Now streaming for free from the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is a documentary that every POV reader—and doc fans—should hold dear. The film is Wintopia, Mira Burt-Wintonick’s tribute to her late father, filmmaker, and former POV editor Peter Wintonick. The film salutes Canada’s “documentary ambassador” in the most appropriate way: through a non-fiction feature that sees his legacy endure in a young voice. Wintopia premiered at IDFA—a festival beloved by Wintonick—in 2019 before screening at festivals including Hot Docs, RIDM, and DOXA where it won the Colin Low Award for Canadian Documentary.
Wintopia sees Mira continues her father’s work as she embarks upon his lifelong search for utopia, which was the basis for his final and incomplete film. Mining archives from the family collection and drawing upon Peter’s passion for documentaries that continues through Mira, along with a generation of filmmakers he mentored and inspired, Wintopia finds that quest for idyllic perfection as a mindset, or philosophy that lives on through shared experiences.
“I think my mom and I kind of knew what he was doing in an abstract way but I didn’t quite grasp until after he died how much he was actually impacting people, and what his presence meant to the documentary community—how many films he helped get made, or helped to turn into better films,” Burt-Wintonick told Marc Glassman in our cover story for issue #112. “So, in the process of making the film, and coming to terms with the fact that he was often away and didn’t spend that much time at home, which I resented while growing up, my new understanding of how much impact he was having did make it feel worthwhile, or more understandable.”
Watch Wintopia below from the NFB.
Synopsis: A box of tapes uncovered. A lifelong Utopian obsession. A daughter’s attempt to complete her father’s final film. Wintopia traces the enigmatic footsteps of renowned documentary filmmaker Peter Wintonick through the lens of his daughter, Mira, as she tries to decipher the map he has left behind. Reverberating with emotion and whimsy, the film guides us on a journey through possible worlds in pursuit of reconciliation, both between artist and family and between dreams and reality. Even for audiences unfamiliar with Peter’s work, the film is a touching story of grief, love, and hope.