“Scream” star Neve Campbell has boarded the Toronto Film Festival-bound documentary “Swan Song,” about the National Ballet of Canada, as an executive producer.
Campbell, who is Canadian, is expected to attend Toronto in support of the film, which follows the ballet company as it mounts a new production of “Swan Lake” directed by ballet icon Karen Kain on the eve of her retirement.
The documentary will screen as part of the festival’s Special Presentations program. TIFF announced its official lineup on Monday, promising an array of world premiere titles despite the SAG-AFTRA actors strike, which will likely impede its red carpets.
“Swan Song” is directed by Chelsea McMullan (“Ever Deadly,” “My Prairie Home”), who wrote the film with producer Sean O’Neill. Distributed in Canada by Blue Ice Docs, with international sales handled by Dogwoof, the documentary will be released theatrically in Canada on Sept. 22. The project was developed with CBC and will air as a four-part limited series on CBC Gem and CBC TV, premiering Nov. 22.
“This project is deeply personal to me given my longtime admiration for Karen Kain and the National Ballet of Canada, starting with my time as a student at Canada’s National Ballet School,” said Campbell, who joined the project as it entered production.
Campbell also conceived of, produced and starred in the Robert Altman-directed ballet film “The Company,” which marks its 20th anniversary this year.
“Ballet was my first love, and ‘Swan Song’ beautifully captures the incredible devotion, artistry and sacrifices that dancers make in their pursuit of creating something beautiful and meaningful,” added Campbell. “I’m so proud of our team and I can’t wait to celebrate the film.”
With full access granted to the filmmakers, the verité-driven “Swan Song” closely follows Kain and a group of young dancers drawn from across the National Ballet of Canada’s ranks, weaving “Swan Lake’s” dramatic creation process with intimate scenes from the subjects’ personal lives as they push toward one of the most significant nights in their company’s history.
“I’m so pleased that ‘Swan Song’ will premiere at TIFF, and that the wonderful Neve Campbell is a part of the film’s team. Agreeing to open up the creative process of a brand new production of ‘Swan Lake’ to a crew of filmmakers was a vulnerable act, to say the least,” said Kain, who stepped into the role of director for the first time in her nearly 50-year career as a dancer and artistic director.
“However, the film’s extraordinary crew made the process far more intuitive than I expected and by the end, it felt as if we were all in it together,” Kain continued. “I look forward to celebrating the film and everyone involved this fall, most especially the extraordinary artists and staff at the National Ballet of Canada who brought ‘Swan Lake’ to life.”
McMullan added: “Making ‘Swan Song’ has been an epic, three-year journey and I’m thrilled to finally be sharing the film with audiences, at TIFF and beyond. Collaborating with such a talented, dedicated team to realize a project so ambitious has changed me as a filmmaker, and Neve’s sensitivity and deep understanding of the life of a ballet dancer has enriched our process immeasurably. I want to thank our subjects and the National Ballet of Canada for trusting us with their awe-inspiring work and moving stories.”
“Swan Song” is a Visitor Media production in association with Mercury Films Inc. and Quiet Ghost. It is presented by Blue Ice Docs and Dogwoof. O’Neill produces along with Christina Carvalho. McMullan, O’Neill, Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, Anna Godas and Oli Harbottle are executive producers alongside Campbell.
“Swan Song” was produced in association with CBC, Telefilm Canada, the Canada Media Fund, Ontario Creates, and the Rogers Cable Network Fund.