After 16 years of directing and producing documentaries, Viveka Melki launched her own film, television and visual arts company to create space for diverse voices.
Melki (pictured) is founder and president of Montreal-based Melki Films Inc., which has several projects in production and is dedicated to developing high-quality documentary and drama programming for Canadian and global audiences, as well as a curatorial work for world art. galleries and museums.
“I think the last few years have shown us how resilient we are, both as an industry and as artists,” Melki said. Daily reading. “I believe that all of our projects relate in one way or another to human nature in a world without borders. I consciously seek out the cultural solitudes of this country and, now more than ever, it is time to give voice to these solitudes under a common shingle.
Born in Gambia, West Africa, Melki co-founded Quebec production Tortuga Films in 2006 with the late Adam Pajot Gendron. She produced Campesinos (2006) and Hippocrates (2011) and directed the two-part series war correspondence (2014) for Radio-Canada and RDI under the banner. The multilingual artist, who identifies as a racialized settler on Turtle Island, sold her interest in 2014 but continued making films for Tortuga until 2020 as an independent filmmaker.
For Tortuga, Melki’s films, some of which were made in the original version in English and some in French, include the feature documentary After Circus; and the 2017 film for Radio-Canada, Carricks: In the Wake of the Irish (Carricks, In the wake of the Irish).
Bringing her experience of having lived and worked in repressive regimes to her storytelling, Melki says her new venture’s projects “will focus on the powerful human and emotional stories that emerge from social, economic, political and dramatic histories”.
Melki Films production slate includes documentary Brand (working title) for CBC The passionate eye, both for TV and festival/theatre versions. The documentary about domestic sex trafficking across Canada is currently in production and slated for release in 2023.
Other productions on the program include TV and festival/theater versions of the doc butterfly hunters (working title), for Telus in British Columbia and Alberta. The project, about sex trafficking in Western Canada, is in production and is expected to be released in 2023.
the Eric Brunt Collection (working title), currently in production in partnership with the Canadian War Museum (CWM), features filmmaker Eric Brunt in conversation with some of Canada’s few surviving World War II veterans. The project will be a culmination of the CWM’s upcoming “In Their Voices” database, which is scheduled to launch in 2024.
The docu-animation Larkcurrently in production and scheduled for completion in 2024, is an 11-minute film funded by the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapters program, starring Douglas Rees, veteran of the Hong Kong POW camp of the Second World War.
Melki Films also has several projects in development, including the feature documentary road hero of Melki and Brunt, director and editor of the new company. The two will co-direct the look at an LGBTQ+ filmmaker criss-crossing Canada, recording the untold stories of marginalized WWII veterans who are Black, Indigenous and of color.
The French original is also in development. Hope Gene (gene of hope), based on the life of Audrey-Ann Bélanger, who traveled to China for a controversial stem cell treatment.
The Melki Films production team also includes Debra Kouri as producer (Brand and butterfly hunters).
“Ideally, racialized people and women should have been incorporated as storytellers a long time ago,” says Melki. “The societal issues that we address in our projects are permanent and, even if it may have felt that the world has stopped because of the pandemic, the urgency of our subjects remains constant. The films we make often deal with the shadow of a story, and the silence of COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to listen more carefully.
By Victoria Ahearn, Playback Daily