(Photo provided by Louis Piché)
January 10, 2019 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
The National Film Board of Canada deeply mourns the loss of documentary filmmaker, producer and author Pepita Ferrari, who died on December 30 at her home in Lac Brome, at the age of 66.
A past Executive Director and board member with the Documentary Organization of Canada, Pepita combined a lifelong passion for documentary storytelling and a deep interest in exploring the performing arts on film.
Working with long-time partner Louis Piché, Pepita co-founded Films Piché Ferrari in 1989—a vital source of independent storytelling in Montreal.
Pepita and Louis met at Ciné-Groupe when she worked with its animation department in 1987. By 1994, she would direct and co-produce her first documentary at the NFB, By Woman’s Hand, exploring the Beaver Hall Group of Canadian women painters.
Three years later, she would direct another NFB documentary on women trailblazers: her film on 19th-century women travellers, The Petticoat Expeditions. Her final directorial project with the NFB was a 2011 short portrait of Margie Gillis, produced in honour of Gillis’s Governor General’s Performing Arts Award.
Her most ambitious work with the NFB began in 2007, when she was asked to direct the landmark web and film project Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary, exploring the creative process of over 30 leading documentary filmmakers, which had its world premiere at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, and was nominated for Best Arts Documentary Program or Series at the Gemini Awards.
In addition to her leadership role at DOC, Pepita served as a board member at Cinema Politica, a programming jury member at RIDM, and was one of the founders of the Eastern Townships Film Festival, which had a special focus on bringing docs to Eastern Townships audiences.
“Documentary filmmaking and the Quebec film community have lost a dear friend. As a writer, producer and filmmaker—and a generous mentor to emerging filmmakers—Pepita was a true champion of documentary cinema. Many of her works focused on the achievements of strong, pioneering women artists—and that is how we will remember Pepita Ferrari,” said NFB Commissioner Claude Joli-Coeur.
The NFB is paying tribute to Pepita’s legacy with a playlist of her work at NFB.ca. The interactive companion to her landmark doc Capturing Reality is also being relaunched online, January 15.