Jennifer Baichwal was born in Montréal and grew up in Victoria, British Columbia. She studied philosophy and theology at McGill University and received an M.A. in 1994, supported by a McGill Major Fellowship and a 2 year FCAR Master’s Scholarship.
Jennifer Baichwal has been directing and producing documentaries for 25 years. Among other films, installations and lens-based projects, she has made nine features which have played all over the world and won multiple awards nationally and internationally. Let It Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles won an International Emmy in 1999. The Holier It Gets, a documentary filmed in Canada and India, won Best Cultural and Best Independent Canadian Documentary at Hot Docs, 2000, and won Geminis for best writing, directing, and editing in a documentary series. The True Meaning of Pictures, a meditation on the work of Shelby Lee Adams, won a Gemini for Best Arts Documentary in 2003, and continues to be used widely as a pedagogical tool in photography and film studies throughout North America. Manufactured Landscapes won, among others, TIFF’s Best Canadian Film and Al Gore’s Reel Current Award. It played theatrically in over 15 territories worldwide, after a prolonged and successful run in Canada, and was named as one of 150 Essential Works In Canadian Cinema History by TIFF in 2016. Act of God, about the metaphysical effects of being struck by lightning, opened the Hot Docs Film Festival in May 2009. Payback, an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s Massey Lectures produced by Ravida Din and the National Film Board, premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2012 and was released in Canada and the U.S. that spring. The feature documentary Watermark, made with Edward Burtynsky and Nicholas de Pencier, premiered at TIFF 2013, was released in Canada by Mongrel Media and won the Toronto Film Critics Association prize for Best Canadian Film in January 2014. It has since been released in eleven countries. Baichwal and de Pencier co-directed Long Time Running, a feature documentary on the Tragically Hip’s 2016 summer tour. The documentary, produced by Banger Films, premiered as a gala at TIFF 2017, was subsequently released by Elevation Pictures, and was broadcast by Bell and Netflix. The Anthropocene Project, Baichwal’s most recent collaboration with de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky, includes a major touring exhibition which debuted simultaneously at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada; an art book published by Steidl; an educational program in partnership with the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and a feature documentary film, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, that premiered at TIFF 2018, played Sundance and Berlin, then won the Toronto Film Critics Association Prize for Best Canadian Film and a Canadian Screen Award in 2019. Baichwal sits on the board of Swim Drink Fish Canada, and is a member of the Ryerson University School of Image Arts Advisory Council. She has been a Director of the Board of the Toronto International Film Festival since 2016. Into the Weeds is Baichwal’s tenth feature documentary.