A new documentary film about Buffy Sainte-Marie, the first and only Indigenous person to win an Academy Award, has begun production and will be helmed by director Madison Thomas.
Titled “Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On,” the feature will be an in-depth look at the life of the activist and musician, described as a “cinematic, poetic and musically-infused journey, blending an extraordinary collection of archival material, some never seen before, with present-day footage of Buffy performing and interviews with her bandmates, colleagues and Buffy herself.”
“To turn one’s life story over to a documentary production is a leap of faith, but with White Pine Pictures and Eagle Vision, the process is feeling natural to me,” Sainte-Marie says in an exclusive statement to Variety. “I look forward to experiencing the story of my life as told through their lens and sharing that story with the world.”
The now 80-year-old artist is best known for winning a BAFTA, Golden Globe and Oscar for the hit song “Up Where We Belong” from the 1982 film “An Officer and a Gentleman.” She shared her award with Will Jennings and Jack Nitzsche, with the movie also picking up a statue for Louis Gossett Jr. as supporting actor. Directed by Taylor Hackford, the film was nominated for a total of six Academy Awards.
In a recent Variety interview for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures opening, where Sainte-Marie’s statue is on loan in the Academy Awards history exhibition, she spoke about the personal struggle and abuse that occurred after winning the award. “You know the stories about Rihanna on her way to the Grammys? I was in a bad situation,” Sainte-Marie said. “I was beaten up and verbally abused in the car and pushed around that night. So I didn’t have a whole lot of fun, but I’m awfully glad that we won.”
The doc is an Ontario-Manitoba co-production between White Pine Pictures, Eagle Vision and Paquin Entertainment. It will be produced by Stephen Paniccia and written by Andrea Warner, author of “Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography.” Peter Raymont, Steve Ord, Andrew Munger, Lisa Meeches, Kyle Irvin, Rebecca Gibson and Sainte-Marie’s long-time manager Gilles Paquin serve as executive producers. Funding for the film was secured through The CMF’s POV Fund, Rogers’ Documentary Fund, Ontario Creates and the Telefilm Theatrical Documentary Fund.
“Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On” is expected to be released theatrically in fall 2022, followed by broadcasts via Bell Media and APTN in Canada and PBS/American Masters in the U.S.