Film and TV
Selected film and television work including narration, musical scores, performance and interviews.
Where is the Quietest Place on Earth?
Film narration is a natural channel for Ann’s storytelling skills. Her warm voice, clear enunciation and impeccable timing breathe vibrancy and professionalism into each script. Ann’s world travels and global perspective add an extra note of authenticity to Tom Vendetti’s fascinating documentaries.
This documentary by Emmy-Award winning filmmaker Tom Vendetti, introduces Maui’s volcano, Haleakala, through the eyes of Hawaiian cultural practitioners, artists, scientists, authors, musicians, cowboys and spiritual leaders. Haleakala’s preeminent place in Hawaiian mythology is introduced, along with its role in the lives of Hawaiians right up to the present, where its silence offers an alternative to the frenzy of modern life.
The film shares Hawaiian mythology and alludes to Polynesians as master astronomers, navigators and environmentalists, more than a millennium before these understandings were embraced elsewhere on the planet. The film acknowledges universal threads running through all cultures, showing that the quietest place on earth actually exists inside each of us, if we can only find our way to it.
Ground-breaking musician Paul Horn and his wife, musician-author-actress Ann Mortifee, explore the place and power of silence in the creative process. The film features footage of Paul Horn playing his flute on a Maui beach, and marks the farewell screen appearance by this trailblazing artist who died soon after this film was completed.
When the Mountain Calls: Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan
When The Mountain Calls: Nepal, Tibet & Bhutan, directed by Emmy-Award winning Maui filmmaker Tom Vendetti, explores the director/producer’s personal experiences and reflections from over 30 years of traveling through the Himalayas – a journey discovering the meaning and sources of happiness in unexpected places, and the changes over the decades to the people, land, climate and culture.
Featured in the film are appearances by the Dalai Lama, Lama Tenzin, Paul Horn, Tenzing Norgay, Sir Edmund Hillary, the Prime Minister of Bhutan, and Greenpeace China. Kris Kristofferson provides the introduction.
Northern California Emmy Award nomination for Historic/Cultural-Program/Special
Bhutan: Taking the Middle Path to Happiness
In Bhutan peoples’ happiness is the guiding principle of government. The government’s goal is “Gross National Happiness,” – happiness that lies in taking the middle path – the path that provides the needs of mankind without sacrificing the life generating diversity of nature.
Throughout the documentary, Emmy-Award winning Maui filmmaker Tom Vendetti explores whether such an ideal can be realized. Can this small, geographically isolated country high in the Himalayans truly protect its environment and culture as it opens its doors to the West? Bhutan’s government is promoting four pillars – environmental preservation, cultural promotion, economic development and good governance. Each pillar, and how it relates to the middle path and the Bhutanese pursuit of Gross National Happiness is discussed.
Narrated by Ann Mortifee
Emmy Award – Historic/Cultural Program
Emmy Award – Musical Composition/Arrangement
Leaving Bountiful is the story of systemic sexual abuse tolerated in the name of religious freedom. It is the story of a woman, raised from a tiny child inside a perverted value system, who still somehow finds the courage – and the clarity – to break free. Leaving Bountiful follows Debbie Palmer’s life growing up in the polygamous colony of Bountiful, British Columbia, and her growing disenchantment with a life of blind obedience and endless breeding. In in a final act of desperation, Debbie sets her house on fire and flees with her seven children in tow. From the ashes, she must build a whole new world.
Leaving Bountiful was written and directed by Helen Slinger. It aired on Global TV.
Man Alive, CBC
Man Alive was one of the longest-running series on CBC-TV. It was a non-denominational religion/information show that tackled complex societal issues and interviewed or profiled both community leaders, and world leaders, including Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Aga Khan. In a well-written essay commemorating the show’s 30th season on air, Manon Lamontagne succinctly stated that, “In spite of the changing nature of television audiences and serious budgetary constraints, Man Alive continues the tradition of providing an informative and well-balanced examination of relevant social issues and contemporary ethical questions.
Ann was interviewed in one of the show’s final broadcasts. The 30-minute episode, entitled Soul Songs, explored what she gave up and what she gained from stepping away from the traditional model of performances, tours and recording to bring music to palliative care patients and to explore the healing power of song.
Featured guest, Soul Songs Episode – Ann Mortifee
XV Commonwealth Games
The XV Commonwealth Games were held in Victoria, BC. Queen Elizabeth II presided over the Opening Ceremony, and over a 10-day period, 2,557 athletes and 914 officials from 63 countries, along with 15,000 volunteers, participated in the event. The official mascot of the games was a killer whale named ‘Klee Wyck’ (a Coast Salish term meaning ‘the laughing one’).
The Closing Ceremonies were held at Victoria’s Centennial Stadium. As the featured soloist, Ann came onstage at the finale, just after the official closing of the Games, and just before the Farewell Ceremony and the departure of His Royal Highness The Prince Edward. The program notes stated:
Ann Mortifee, one of Canada’s most gifted performers, is featured in her composition celebrating strength, hope and healing.
The ceremony was broadcast by CBC-TV to a worldwide audience of one half a billion viewers.
Featured Soloist – Ann Mortifee
After the Commonwealth Games in 1958, South Africa was banned from participating due to its racist apartheid policy. Apartheid was abolished in 1994, and the XV Commonwealth Games marked South Africa’s return to the competition. South Africa’s return to the games was a source of great joy for Ann, who was born in South Africa. In 1957, her father, William ‘Bill’ Mortifee, a Member of Parliament for South Africa, moved his family to Canada in protest of the country’s racist regime.
Ann’s choice of song, Healing Journey, resonated deeply with her family, all attendees at the Closing Ceremony, and the world-wide audience.
Bach: The Magnificat
This CTV special documented the rehearsals and the performances of two musical groups preparing a performance of Bach’s Magnificat in D. One group gave a traditional, classical performance. The other group performed Magnificat in an improvisational jazz mode.
The spirit of Bach’s most joyous work is captured in an extraordinary contrast of styles. MAGNIFICAT features an outstanding traditional version of the Magnificat in D performed by Tafelmusik and the Tudor Singers, crosscut with an electrifying jazz version featuring Bobby McFerrin, Ann Mortifee, and the New Swingle Singers. The film follows the simultaneous rehearsals of these two groups, climaxing in a performance that celebrates the versatility and eternal splendor of Bach’s music.
The Swingle Singers with Moe Koffman, Ann Mortifee and Bobby McFerrin
Tafelmusik and the Tudor Singers
- Golden Sheaf Award: Best Fine Arts Production, Yorkton Film Festival
- Best Classical Music Telecast, Canadian Music Council Awards
- “An exuberant celebration of Bach’s genius.” Halifax Chronicle
- “By virtue of director Barbara Sweete’s elegant hand at montage, the forces are ultimately reconciled, the styles united, and the universal language of music joyously re-affirmed.” Toronto Globe and Mail
- “The strength of the production lies not only in its effective crosscutting between the two ensembles… but also in its adept consideration of the aesthetic issues implicit in an interpretive undertaking of this kind… Music lovers, whether their orientation is towards the classics or jazz, will find plenty here to admire and enjoy.” Video Rating Guide for Libraries
- “A remarkable tribute to the versatility of Bach’s music and the strength of the continued interest in performing it.” Landers Film and Video Reviews
- “Catchy, fun and approachable… a great show.” Calgary Herald
The first few minutes of the performance, featuring a heart-stopping saxophone solo and Ann preparing to sing and then performing, are breathtaking to listen to and to watch.
Sharon, Lois and Bram's Elephant Show, CTV
This 60-minute, award-winning documentary by Elvira Lount examines the dilemmas faced by women aged 18 to 40 who are facing the decision of whether or not to have children. It also delves into the problems which face women who want to become mothers after the age of thirty, when the risks of abnormal pregnancy and the risks to the child begin to increase.
Composer – Ann Mortifee
Silver, NY Film and TV Festival
The movie, Surfacing, is based on a challenging, suspenseful book by acclaimed Canadian poet and novelist, Margaret Atwood. The story centres on an artist who travels to her family’s remote northern Quebec cabin with her boyfriend and another couple, to search for her missing father. Claude Jutra, acclaimed for his film, Mon Oncle Antoine, directed. Unlike the novel, the movie did not generate good reviews. Criticism was leveled at the production for casting American actors in the lead roles and for putting the male lead’s name above that of the female lead (who had the larger role) in the credits. Reviews were lukewarm. However, Ann’s musical score, which captures attention from the moment the film begins, was well received.
Musical Score by Ann Mortifee
Genie Award nomination for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture (for Ann’s song, Gypsy Born). NOTE: Genies, now called Canadian Screen Awards, are the Canadian version of the ‘Oscars’.
Journey to Kairos - TVOntario
Ann’s second one-woman show, Journey to Kairos, reflected her world travels over a three year period, including the year she spent in war-torn Beirut. Journey to Kairos was released as an album, and Ann went on tour with the show. In Toronto it played at the Toronto Workshop Productions Theatre and was taped by TVOntario. The resulting one hour special won a prestigious award at the Worldfest International Film and Video Festival.
Link to album
The Journey to Kairos TV Special won the Grand Remi Award, from a field of over 1000 entries, for Best TV Production of the Year at the Worldfest International Film and Video Festival in Houston, Texas.
Past recipients of the top Worldfest honour – The Grand Remi – in their respective categories include Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Ang Lee, the Coen Brothers, Oliver Stone, Ridley Scott, Robert Rodriguez, David Lynch, John Sayles, Jonathan Demme and Deepa Mehta.
Great Grand Mother
National Film Board of Canada
This documentary, by Lorna Rasmussen and Anne Wheeler, is about the struggles, aspirations, sacrifices and rewards of the pioneer women who settled in the Prairies.
Musical Composer – Ann Mortifee
Musical Arrangement – Ann Mortifee and Doug Edwards
Musical Performance – Ann Mortifee
- Alberta Film Festival: Best Documentary, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Editing Awards. Ann Mortifee received Honorable Mention for best original music.
- Blue Ribbon Award – Category: Anthropology and Ethnography – American Film and Video Festival, New York
The Camera and the Song, BBC-TV
The Camera and the Song was a BBC2 series produced in the UK. Each episode featured the song of a musician and the images of a photographer. The music and the visuals were integrated to create a specific mood that became the theme of the episode. Ann appeared in an episode shot in Vancouver entitled ‘Nature’s Way’, which took its name from one of Ann’s songs. Doug Edwards was the Musical Arranger.
The ‘Nature’s Way’ episode was produced by a renowned British team. Director John Bird, directed numerous series and documentaries. The cinematographer, John Hooper, also very experienced, worked on two series, Kavanagh QC and Monarch of the Glen, that were hits in North America as well as the UK.
Featured Artist – Ann Mortifee
These lyrics from Ann’s song, Nature’s Way, which was featured on the BBC2 special, proved to be prophetic. Years after the song was written, Ann’s deep love of nature and drew her to co-create a foundation called The Trust for Sustainable Forestry.
Sometimes I wonder
Where my life will go
Sometimes I wonder
If I’ll ever really know
‘Cause I’ve been searching
For such a long time
The music and the pictures peer and search
Through nature from flesh to earth
To tree to sky to sea and back to flesh.
The Paul Horn Show, CTV
The musical variety series that jazz flutist Paul Horn hosted for the CTV network was shot at the CHAN-TV studio in Vancouver. Guest musicians, one of whom was Ann Mortifee, were featured on each of the 12 episodes. Paul and Ann had met in a recording studio two years earlier. At that time Ann was composing the score for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s dance version of The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, and Paul gave her helpful advice on improvising. A joint love of music drew them together, and despite the graininess of the photos, their musical chemistry is palatable in the shots of her appearance on his show. Many years later, their respect and love for each other would draw the two of them into a blissful marriage.
Guest performer – Ann Mortifee
Paul Horn’s son, Marlen, recalls his father’s relationship with Ann Mortifee being a source of great joy. “His marriage to and relationship with Ann was the best part of his life. Those last 10 years, I’ve never seen a deeper, more dedicated relationship between two people.”
Both Sides Now, CTV
This music variety show was produced at CJOH, CTV’s flagship station in Ottawa. The music director at CJOH, renowned jazz arranger, composer, bassist, organist pianist and teacher, Champ Champagne, was instrumental in launching Both Sides Now to reach the youth market.
One episode that Ann and David hosted is notable in rock and roll history. Although no one knew it at the time, it would be the final performance that Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention gave together. Several days after the show, Zappa disbanded the group.
Hosts – Ann Mortifee and David Wiffen
By coincidence, the Bunkhouse Coffeehouse in Vancouver played a role in launching the careers of both of the hosts. Ann gave her first ever professional performance there, and David recorded his pivotal folk album, Live at the Bunkhouse, there.