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World premiere of Borealis December 15, 2020, on TVO, TVO.org and NFB.ca. By acclaimed Primitive Entertainment in a special co-presentation by the NFB and TVO.


December 8, 2020 – Toronto – National Film Board of Canada

On Tuesday, December 15, at 9 p.m. ET, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and TVO present the world premiere of Kevin McMahon’s Borealis—an immersive journey into the heart of Canada’s iconic boreal forest. The film exposes the chorus of life in the forest, offering a portrait of its lifecycles from the perspective of the plants and animals that live there. It will be broadcast on TVO and stream free on NFB.ca and TVO.org.

Channeling an artful balance of science and spirit, Borealis shares the voices of scientists, Indigenous people, harvesters and herbalists who explore the iconic snow forest from the point of view of its trees, delving deeply into the many mysteries of a biome that refreshes itself by burning itself down.

How do trees move, communicate, and survive the destructive forces of fire, insects, and human encroachment? Humans are only beginning to understand the complex networks that nurture and sustain this unique ecosystem, as well as the things that destroy it.

Borealis was filmed in Ontario on the territories of the Fort Albany First Nation and Weenusk First Nation, and in the Algonquin, Quetico, Wabakimi and Woodland Caribou provincial parks, as well as in the Banff and Jasper national parks in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains and the Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

A co-production of Primitive Entertainment and the NFB in partnership with TVO, and in association with ZDF/ARTE, NHK and Knowledge Network, Borealis is produced by Kristina McLaughlin, Kevin McMahon and Michael McMahon for Primitive Entertainment and Justine Pimlott for the NFB’s Ontario Studio. The executive producers are Michael McMahon (Primitive Entertainment), Anita Lee (NFB) and Jane Jankovic (TVO). The film was produced with the participation of the Canada Media Fund and the Rogers Documentary Fund, and with the assistance of the Ontario Creates Film Fund and the Ontario Creates Film and Tax Credit.

About TVO

Since 1970, TVO has existed to ignite the potential in everyone through the power of learning. Through impactful digital education products, in-depth current affairs, thought-provoking TVO Original documentaries, and award-winning TVOkids content, we prepare Ontarians for success in school and life. As we mark our 50th year, TVO’s ongoing evolution as a modern digital learning and media organization prepares us to serve Ontarians for generations to come. TVO is funded primarily by the Province of Ontario, and is a registered charity supported by thousands of sponsors and donors. For more information, visit tvo.org and tvokids.com.

Where to find TVO

On air:

Cable Ch. 2 (may vary in some areas)

Rogers channel 2

Bell Fibe TV HD 1209

Bell Fibe TV SD 209

Bell TV 265

Shaw Direct HD 39

Shaw Direct SD 353






Google Play

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About the NFB

The NFB is Canada’s public producer of award-winning creative documentaries, auteur animation, interactive stories and participatory experiences. NFB producers are embedded in communities across the country, from St. John’s to Vancouver, working with talented creators on innovative and socially relevant projects. The NFB is a leader in gender equity in film and digital media production, and is working to strengthen Indigenous-led production, guided by the recommendations of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. NFB productions have won over 7,000 awards, including 27 Canadian Screen Awards, 21 Webbys, 12 Oscars and more than 100 Genies. To access this award-winning content and discover the work of NFB creators, visit NFB.ca, download its apps for mobile devices or visit NFB Pause.

About Kevin McMahon

Kevin has directed more than 20 films and produced dozens of hours of non-fiction television. His work is focused on environmental themes, both explicitly and more obliquely, in such acclaimed titles as the series Equator: A New World View, for which he was a 2020 Canadian Screen Award nominee; the mini-series The Polar Sea (2014); the multi-award-winning series The National Parks Project (2011); his Webby-winning Waterlife (2009); as well as Stolen Spirits of Haida Gwaii (2004), for which he received the Gemini Award for Best History Documentary Program and Best Direction in a Documentary Program. His work has also garnered a top prize from the Canadian Centre for Investigative Journalism, a nomination for the Governor General’s Award in public-service journalism and honours from film festivals around the world. Kevin is a frequent mentor to younger filmmakers and was named Canadian Eco Hero in 2011 by the Planet in Focus film festival.

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Related Products

Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopses: Borealis

Associated Links

Primitive Entertainment
Knowledge Network
Canada Media Fund
Rogers Documentary Fund
Ontario Creates Film Fund
Ontario Creates Film and Tax Credit

Media Relations

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

Claire Ferris
Audience Development Specialist, TVO

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

French version here | Version française ici.