1. Media Space

  2. Press Releases

Premieres in Calgary, Toronto and on TVO. Toronto journalist and filmmaker Michelle Shephard questions what stories get told and why, in her riveting new feature documentary The Perfect Story.


September 23, 2022 – Toronto – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

Michelle Shephard’s heart-wrenching and provocative look at journalism, TVO Original The Perfect Story, is launching this fall with screenings in Calgary (September 24) and Toronto (October 5) ahead of a world broadcast premiere on TVO, TVO.org, YouTube and smart TV services on October 18. nfb.ca is also streaming the film for free starting November 1.

Co-produced by Frequent Flyer Films and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), this feature documentary offers a gripping and intimate look at the ethical and moral challenges sparked by the friendship between foreign correspondent Shephard and a young Somali refugee. By revealing the boundaries of journalism and filmmaking, the documentary questions what stories are told, why, and who gets to tell them.

Michelle Shephard is the recipient of three National Newspaper Awards, earned over two decades of foreign reporting at the Toronto Star, as well as the Michener Award, one of the highest honours in Canadian journalism. Her filmmaking credits include the Emmy-nominated feature Guantanamo’s Child and The Way Out. She was also the creative content producer on the award-winning NFB co-production Uyghurs: Prisoners of the Absurd.

World premiere in Calgary

The Perfect Story will have its world premiere on Saturday, September 24, at 4:45 p.m. at the Calgary International Film Festival, with director Michelle Shephard in attendance for a live Q&A.

Toronto premiere—in person and online

The film will open Hot Docs’ Doc Soup series, with an in-person screening on Wednesday, October 5, at 6:30 p.m. at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, followed by a special curated panel led by guest host Adrienne Arsenault, CBC News’ chief correspondent and host of The National, and featuring Michelle Shephard, film subject and associate producer Sahal Abdulle, and Toronto immigration lawyer Hadayt Nazami. A second screening and Q&A with Michelle Shephard and Sahal Abdulle will take place on Thursday, October 6, at 9:15 p.m. Tickets are now available to Doc Soup subscribers as well as the general public.

Doc Soup subscribers will also be able to view The Perfect Story online from Thursday, October 6, to Sunday, October 9, on the watch.hotdocs.ca portal.

World broadcast premiere and streaming

TVO Original The Perfect Story will premiere on TVO on Tuesday, October 18, at 9 p.m. ET and stream for free on TVO.org, the TVO Docs YouTube channel, TVO’s OTT apps and the TVO Today mobile app. The Perfect Story will also stream free to all Canadians on nfb.ca starting November 1.

More about The Perfect Story 

The Perfect Story by Michelle Shephard (74 min.)
Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/the-perfect-story

  • The Perfect Story follows the decade-long relationship between Canadian journalist Michelle Shephard and Ismael Abdulle, a young Somali refugee who had his hand and foot cut off by the terrorist group Al Shabab.
  • Their story begins in 2010, when they met during one of Michelle’s reporting trips to Mogadishu for the Toronto Star. Her articles about Ismael sparked a movement within the Somali diaspora that helped him escape Mogadishu and find refuge in Harstad, Norway, 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. For nearly a decade, Ismael embraced his new home, learning to speak Norwegian fluently and attempting to adapt to his new country. When Ismael goes back to Mogadishu, an unexpected turn of events forces Michelle to defy one of journalism’s golden rules—“report the story, don’t become part of it”—and makes her question her role as a storyteller.
  • The film was produced by Bryn Hughes (Frequent Flyer Films), Lea Marin (NFB) and Michelle Shephard.

About Frequent Flyer Films

Frequent Flyer Films is a Toronto-based production company dedicated to challenging character-driven films that tackle some of the most pressing issues of our time. Founders Bryn Hughes, an award-winning producer and veteran journalist and filmmaker Michelle Shephard, came together in 2018 to create Frequent Flyer Films, bringing with them two decades of experience working in some of the most difficult terrains in the world, with a keen eye to powerful and thought-provoking storytelling. www.frequentflyerfilms.ca

About TVO

TVO inspires learning that changes lives and enriches communities. Founded in 1970, we are a globally recognized digital learning organization that engages Ontarians of all ages with inclusive experiences and diverse perspectives. Through video, audio, games, courses, newsletters and articles, we’re investing in the transformative potential of education for everyone. Funded primarily by the Province of Ontario, TVO is a registered charity supported by thousands of sponsors and donors. For more information, visit TVO.me, TVO.org and TVOkids.com.

Smart TV streaming services: LG, Samsung, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Android

About the NFB

The NFB is Canada’s public producer and distributor of award-winning documentaries, auteur animation, interactive stories and participatory experiences, working with talented creators across the country. The NFB is taking action to combat systemic racism and become a more open and diverse organization, while working to strengthen Indigenous-led production and gender equity in film and digital media. NFB productions have won more than 7,000 awards, including 12 Oscars. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.

– 30 –

Media Relations

For the NFB
Jennifer Mair
NFB Publicist
C.: 416-436-0105
j.mair@nfb.ca | @NFB_Jennifer

Paulo Senra
Director of Corporate Communications, TVO

Lily Robert
Director, Communications and Public Affairs, NFB
C.: 514-296-8261

French version here | Version française ici.