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Freelancer on the Front Lines

Santiago Bertolino
2016 | 98 min 13 s

Festivals and Awards


  • Official SelectionDOXA Documentary Film Festival 2017

  • Official SelectionGuangzhou, International Documentary Film Festival (GZDOC) 2017


Short Synopsis

Long Synopsis

Interview with Santiago Bertolino

Interview with Jesse Rosenfeld

Jesse Rosenfeld’s Biography



NFB Podcast


Santiago Bertolino

Santiago Bertolino

Santiago Bertolino is an independent director-screenwriter and web video journalist whose latest work is Freelancer on the Front Lines, an NFB-produced feature documentary. This film diary captures the daily life of a freelance journalist over the course of a year, following him across the Middle East, from Iraqi Kurdistan to Israel and Palestine, from Egypt to Turkey. The film gave Bertolino the opportunity to act as an independent observer of thorny geopolitical realities shaped by momentous historical events.

After graduating from Brébeuf College in 1998 with a diploma in creative arts, literature and languages, and a focus on cinema, Santiago Bertolino learned the craft of filmmaking mostly on the job while taking technical courses over several years. A strong believer in documentaries that question the mass media and the images they produce, he soon began to take on political projects in which he could share his vision of the state of the world. His first films—Les illusions du libre-échange, co-directed with Sylvain Bédard (2001), and La crise du café (2002) and Nuevo Horizonte (2005), two shorts about Guatemala and co-ops—are good examples.

Although Bertolino is a global citizen, he has a keen interest in how Quebec society is evolving, as seen in several of his web projects: Actualité citoyenne (2006–2009) and Trucs et astuces de la vidéo citoyenne (2008), available on the NFB site under the Parole citoyenne program, or the De prison en prison vlog (2010) co-directed with Steve Patry, a series of shorts about ex-convicts re-entering society. In 2013, Bertolino teamed up with Hugo Samson to direct  Red Square on a Blackboard, a vibrant documentary on the “maple spring,” the student demos of 2012 supporting free tuition in Quebec. The film won two Gémeaux awards in 2014 (best social documentary and best documentary script).

His interest in the conflicts in the Middle East, and especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, led him to make several shorts in the region: La marche pour la libération de Gaza ou le tourbillon égyptien and Seules, les pierres n’arrêteront pas l’occupation, co-directed with Steve Patry. In 2013–2014, he co-wrote the documentary feature Pipelines, Power and Democracy with the film’s director, Olivier D. Asselin. The film looks at political and citizen engagement on environmental issues related to the development and exports of oil from the Alberta oil sands.

A committed filmmaker inspired by the direct cinema of Pierre Perrault, Gilles Groulx and Michel Brault, Bertolino habitually trains his keen eye on social and political struggles that underline the major issues in today’s world. By focusing on the important role of freelance journalists in the media landscape, Freelancer on the Front Lines, his most recent work, is no exception.

Producer (NFB)
Photo : Sophie Quevillon


Nathalie Cloutier studied Arts and Letters and collaborated on a number of theatre projects early in her career. But after participating in the 1998‒1999 edition of the TV show La Course destination monde, she made a turn towards filmmaking.

In 2003, Nathalie came to the NFB as a production coordinator and worked with teams in Studio A, the International Co-Production Unit and French Program’s Quebec Studio. She later went back to school, studying to be a producer in the documentary program at the Institut national de l’image et du son. After completing the program, she returned to the Film Board, where she has been a producer since 2010.

Nathalie has been involved in producing a number of interactive experiences, including the website The Hole Story Interactive, which accompanied the film The Hole Story, by Richard Desjardins and Robert Monderie; Here at Home, a multi-award-winning website about homelessness; and You, Me, and the Charter, an interactive project directed by Jérémie Battaglia and Vali Fugulin, in collaboration with Urbania magazine.

In addition to her work in interactive productions, Nathalie has also produced and co-produced a number of feature documentaries, including Ariel, by Laura Bari, The Wind at My Door, by Pierre Goupil and Rénald Bellemare, and Little Big Girls, by Hélène Choquette. In 2015, she launched three documentaries that distinguished themselves on the national and international scenes: Ève Lamont’s The Sex Trade; Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan’s The Wanted 18, which premiered at TIFF; and Sophie Deraspe’s The Amina Profile, whose world premiere was at the Sundance Film Festival.

Producer (NFB)
Photo : NFB


Denis McCready has been working in the Quebec film and television industry since 1996. He started off directing commercials for music channel MusiquePlus before becoming head of advertising for MusiquePlus, MusiMax, Super Écran and Canal Indigo. The early 2000s saw McCready working with independent production companies, where he gained experience as a production director, line producer, and producer of documentaries, documentary series, and dramas.

No stranger to technical and creative challenges, McCready has produced low-budget auteur documentaries on subjects as diverse as dance, music, the environment and child trafficking, as well as big-budget documentary series dealing with science, exploration, and war. He has overseen shoots both in Canada and abroad, many in locations that are hard to access (the Arctic, NASA, the Russian space program) or dangerous (the Atacama and Mojave deserts, the giant Cave of Crystals in Naica, Mexico). He oversaw the production of hundreds of special-effects sequences for the series Mars Rising and produced and wrote the serious game L’or du golfe for the ICI Radio-Canada website. McCready has delivered HD programs for major broadcasters, including National Geographic (US and international), Discovery (Canada, US, Latin America), History (Canada), ARTE (France/Germany), NHK (Japan), CBC, Radio-Canada, Canal D, and Télé-Québec. In addition, he’s worked on a number of official international co-productions (Canada-France, Canada-Mexico).

McCready won several awards as the producer of Chercher le courant (including the RIDM Audience Choice Award and Gémeaux Award for Best Documentary: Society) and Bas! Au-delà du Redlight (NFB Colin Low Award at DOXA). The films he’s produced have screened at many international festivals, including Hot Docs, Visions du réel, the International Festival of Films on Art, NXNE, DOXA, the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM), and the Vancouver International Film Festival. He has also produced two documentaries directed by Ian Jaquier: L’or du golfe, with Kevin Parent, and Kanata: Aujourd’hui la colonisation, as well as the powerful documentary MTL Punk: La première vague, by Érik Cimon and Alain Cliche.

McCready is currently Executive Producer for the NFB’s Canadian Francophonie Studio. Previously, he worked on many NFB short and feature-length documentaries and interactive projects as a producer for the Documentary Studio and the Institutional Program.

Colette Loumède
Executive Producer
Photo : NFB

Colette Loumède

Colette Loumède oversees the French Program’s Documentary Studio at the National Film Board of Canada. She has produced or co-produced some 50 documentaries, most of which have won prestigious awards and screened at major festivals such as Hot Docs, IDFA, TIFF, Sundance, Visions du réel and Rotterdam. She has always sought out
emerging as well as established talents, resulting in a range of social-issue documentaries with different narrative approaches, from geopolitical investigations to explorations of complex personal experiences.

Colette constantly redefines the limits of possibility in filmmaking and in creative research through her deep commitment to sharing an artist’s vision and making  documentary a universal platform for visual storytelling.

For many years, Colette worked as a documentary project analyst for SODEC, Quebec’s public film funding agency.  She also founded and directed the Documentary Program at the Institut national de l’image et du son de Montréal, the first professional film school in Quebec. During her time with the institution, she drew on her extensive experience as a producer to share her passion and vision for auteur documentary with many aspiring filmmakers and producers.

Today, Colette is more involved than ever in new NFB productions, exploring fresh ideas alongside new talents and working with experienced creators, all in an effort to produce works for audiences around the world to discover.


Jesse Rosenfeld and a Syrian refugee.
Jesse Rosenfeld and Hugh Naylor.
Jesse Rosenfeld, peshmerga combatants, Santiago Bertolino, Ayar Mohammed Rasool.
Jesse Rosenfeld and Anis Attia.
News team in Israel at the nearest authorized point to the Gaza Strip.
Jesse Rosenfeld, Sardar Sharif, and a Peshmerga official.


With the participation of
Jesse Rosenfeld

Written and Directed by
Santiago Bertolino

Images and Sound Recording
Santiago Bertolino

Sound Design
Olivier Calvert

Additional Camera
Daniel Lanteigne
Ahmed Fadel Al Massary

Aube Foglia

Editing Assistants
Joëlle Arseneau
Marie-Eve Talbot

Technical Coordinator – Shooting Equipment
Steve Hallé

Technical Support – Editing
Pierre Dupont
Isabelle Painchaud
Patrick Trahan

Divvy Ahronheim
Kamel Bouzeboudjen
Cevat Sahin

Opening Credits and Title Design
Creative Direction and Direction
Christian Langlois

Design and Lead Motion Design
Mélanie Bouchard

Online Editing
Serge Verreault

Lise Wedlock

Foley Recording
Luc Léger

Shelley Craig

Bruce Cawdron
Rebecca Foon
Brian Sanderson
Jamie Thompson

Guest Musicians
Mishka Stein
Colin Stetson

Music Recording
James Stephens

Additionnal Music
Flying Street

Composed and Performed by
Stefan Christoff
Sam Shalabi

Abdulrahman Noori Abdulrahman
Anis Attia Anis
Allison Deger
Mohammad Husso
Nael Mosallam
Ayar Mohammed Rasool
Leora Rissin
Mark Rosenfeld
Sardar Sharif
Lia Tarachansky

Al Jazeera
Associated Press
House of commons
The Daily Beast Company
David Weiss/Shutterstock.com
France 24
ITN Source
NBCUniversal Archives
Pond 5

Rights Clearances for Archival Material
Jenny Cartwright

Marketing Managers
Karine Sévigny
Judith Lessard-Bérubé
Assisted by
Jolène Lessard

Sia Koukoulas

Production Coordinators
Chinda Phommarinh
Gabrielle Dupont
Isabelle Limoges
Hélène Regimbal

Administrative Assistants
Pascale Savoie-Brideau
Larissa Estevam Christoforo

Technical Coordinator
Mira Mailhot

Associate Producer
Mélanie Lasnier

Nathalie Cloutier
Denis McCready

Executive Producer
Colette Loumède



Press Relations

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    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.