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Beaver documentary nominated for award

A beaver documentary that involved filming at the Ellis Bird Farm by two local videographers has been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award.

The Beaver Whisperers, which aired on CBC’s The Nature of Things last March, has been nominated for Best Nature/Science Documentary.

It was made by Toronto filmmaker Jari Osborne, who interviewed North American beaver experts, but also includes video footage shot by retired Red Deer Advocate editor and columnist Rick Zemanek, of the Blackfalds area, and Phil French of Lousana.

The two Central Albertans spent hundreds of hours in 2012 tenaciously overcoming technical challenges to capture footage of beavers named June and Ward from on top of their dam and beside their feeding site.

Osborne said this was “pivotal in taking us into a world that’s secret.”

French, a veteran videographer who produced previous documentaries on cavity nesting birds, appreciated the shy, nocturnal rodents more after following their daily habits. “They do a lot of good things, like preserving water supplies.”

Zemanek, who volunteers at the Ellis Bird Farm, found the animals’ shows of affection for each other moving, and was “awed” by their gradual acceptance of his presence. “June really bonded with me, I’d sit in full view. ... and she showed no apprehension at all.”

The award winners will be announced on March 9.

Martin Short will host a two-hour live Canadian Screen Awards broadcast that Sunday at 8 p.m. on CBC, from the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto.

 
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