by Robin McKenna
Product Availability
Institutional, Home-Use, Community Screenings, Theatrical, Educational, Festivals, VOD
About the Film

GIFT is a tribute to something that can’t be measured or counted, bought or sold. Inspired by Lewis Hyde’s beloved book The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, Robin McKenna’s film is a richly cinematic experience, interweaving character-driven stories. Exploring the parallels between artists’ work and a gift economy, it’s a reflection on the creative process, the reasons we “labour in service of our gifts”, and a celebration of the imagination.

On North America’s Pacific Northwest Coast, a young Indigenous man undertakes the elaborate preparations for a potlatch—to establish himself in his community and take on the responsibilities of leadership by giving everything away. In Rome, an abandoned factory occupied by migrant families is transformed into a living museum, protected by a barricade of art: a model of resistance, and an invaluable gift both to the inhabitants and to the city beyond its walls. In the pirate utopia of Burning Man, a mutant bumblebee art-car distributes honey in a post-­apocalyptic desert landscape. Meanwhile, in Auckland, New Zealand, artist Mingwei Lee prepares to launch Sonic Blossom – a transformative gift of song.

Distribution Availability: Canada

2018  ·  1h29m  ·  Canada
English, French, Italian
English, French subs
Festivals and Awards
Full Bloom Film Festival, Best Documentary Feature
April 23, 2020
The Screening Room (Kingston, ON)
May 20, 2020
Hosted by Youth Council (London, ON)
March 22, 2020
The Screening Room (Kingston, ON)
March 6, 2020
Belleville Downtown DocFest, Belleville Public Library (Belleville, ON)
February 28, 2020
Regina Public Library (Regina, SK)
February 18 & 20, 2020
Hosted by Sunset Labs (Victoria, BC)
February 3, 2020
Hosted by Ciné-Verdun (Montreal, QC)
January 28, 2020
Hosted by Regina Public Library (Regina, SK)
January 25, 2020
Empire of Dirt Residency Association (Creston, BC)
December 1, 2019
Barb Danielewski, The Screening Room (Kingston, ON)
November 24, 2019
North Shore Unitarian Church (Vancouver, BC)
November 30, 2019
Presented by Council of Canadians, The Powell River Film Festival and First Credit Union. At the Patricia Theatre (Powell River, BC)
October 28, 2019
Monday Night Movies in Tofino, Clayoquot Sound Theatre (Tofino, BC)
September 23, 2019
Alternative Film Festival, (Toronto, ON)
September 4, 2019
Sunrise Film Festival (River John, NS)
August 18, 2019
Bad Buoy Film Society, AGB National Historic Site (Baddeck, NS)
August 17, 2019
The Barn Loft at Fieldwork (Maberly, ON)
July 23, 2019
Cinema Sous Les Etoiles (Montreal, QC)
May 30, 2019
Lethbridge Sustainable Living Association (Lethbridge, AB)
May 17, 2019
Carleton Cinema (Toronto, ON)
May 14, 2019
Rio Theatre (Vancouver, BC)
May 5 & 6, 2019
Cinecenta (Victoria, BC)
April 25, 2019
Salle Alec Gerard Pelletier (Sutton, QC)
April 22, 2019
Vancity Theatre (Vancouver, BC)
April 5, 2019
St. Francis Xavier University, Gerald Schwartz School of Business (Antigonish, NS)
February 22 - March 7, 2019
Globe Cinema (Calgary, AB)
Feb 16 & 17, 2019
First Ontario Performing Arts Centre Film House (St. Catharines, ON)
Feb 8 & 14, 2019
Cinéma du musée (Montreal, QC)
March 16, 2018
WORLD PREMIERE, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, in association with DHC/ART, MBAM (Montreal, QC)
Mahi Rahgozar
Mark O'Fearghail and Nicolas Canniccioni
Robin McKenna and Ina Fichman
Sound Editor
Sylvain Bellemarre
Soundtrack Composer
Serge Nakachi Pelletier
Robin McKenna

"You'll think the world is a better place after seeing Robin McKenna's documentary..."

"At a time when art is relentlessly commercialized and commodified, Robin McKenna’s “Gift” provides a gentle and welcome reminder of other values."

"Robin McKenna’s intelligent and life affirming documentary Gift will make viewers consider how they give, receive, and create art in a fresh, new light... A wonderful plea for people to step outside of themselves and let art into their hearts and minds at every opportunity."

“More than a worthy tribute to one of my favorite books, Robin McKenna’s GIFT translates Lewis Hyde’s remarkable notion into new terms. A beautiful, moving, and thought-provoking reflection on the creative process and the things that make us human.”

"A beautifully crafted film and such a thoughtful exploration of the idea of The Gift."

"GIFT is a poetic outlook on gift economies through art and cultural practices. It follows four storylines linked by creativity, generosity, resistance and defiance."

“Above all, GIFT honours the creative impulse, and asks us to reflect on what art has to offer humanity, regardless of its market value.”

“GIFT presents us with a rare opportunity to escape the relentless logic of the market and to reclaim a little bit of our human freedom.”

“GIFT is [a film] worth watching, and a must-see if you are an artist.”

About the Director

Robin McKenna

Robin McKenna is an award-winning director, producer and writer with over two decades of experience in documentary filmmaking.  Her feature documentary GIFT, a inspired by Lewis Hyde’s classic bestseller The Gift, opened in theatres across the US and Canada in 2019 (“Elliptical, poetic, and visually arresting.” –The Boston Globe). Her newest film Thanadoula, a short animated documentary co-produced with the NFB, will premiere in 2020.

Robin grew up in Montreal, and began making films with the celebrated Radio-Canada series La Course destination monde. Her film The Great War Experience won Yorkton Film Festival’s Founders’ Award in 2007. She has directed documentary series for networks in the US and Canada, and her cinematography credits include City of Borders (Berlinale, Hot Docs 2009) and The Take with Naomi Klein (AFI Best Documentary 2004). In 2018 she directed a short film on 16mm with legendary actress Geneviève Bujold, produced by the NFB for the Governor General’s Awards for the Performing Arts. She is currently finishing Medicine, a feature-length documentary about ayahuasca, medicine and healing, with Dr. Gabor Maté.

She is an alumnus of Hot Docs’ Doc Lab, and has been a filmmaker-mentor in indigenous communities with Wapikoni Mobile. She is fluent in French and Spanish, and has worked in Latin America, Russia, India, Kenya, Israel and Palestine. She loves creative collaboration, and welcomes new projects.