Main image for Waiting for Martin
Main image for Waiting for Martin

Waiting for Martin

by Magnus Isacsson & Sophia Southam
The dramatic and entertaining story of a student activist who attempts to meet Canadian Finance Minister Paul Martin and won't take no for an answer.
2004  ·  53m  ·  Canada
English, French
English, French subs
About the Film

An innovative collaboration between a veteran documentarian and a young animator/editor, Waiting for Martin updates the proud tradition established by Mike Rubbo’s Waiting for Fidel and Michael Moore’s Roger and Me. The film tells the dramatic and entertaining story of an activist who won’t take no for an answer.

David Bernans has been trying to meet and debate Paul Martin for three years, running against him as an NDP candidate in his Montreal riding, attempting to pin him down on occasions ranging from private meetings to political rallies. In the process he encounters many obstacles, including security guards, police on horseback, and Paul Martin’s campaign manager Lucy Castelli. He finds that Paul Martin is everywhere – on posters, billboards, TV screens and newspaper headlines – but never in flesh and blood. Which doesn’t prevent David from asking a lot of questions and debating whoever is standing in for Martin, be it a giant Martin puppet made by student protesters or other ministers sent to represent the future prime minister.

Waiting for Martin combines documentary material shot over a period of three years with animated sequences inspired by dada collage art of the 1920s. Raising many questions about Paul Martin’s record and policies, it is a timely film about democracy and the politics of protest in Canada.

Upcoming Screenings

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Magnus Isacsson, Sophia Southam
Magnus Isacsson, Sophia Southam
Magnus Isacsson, Sophia Southam
Documentary Subject
David Bernans
Creative Consultant
Terre Nash
Director of Photography
Martin Duckworth
Main Cinematograpy
Martin Duckworth, Mishuk Munier
Additional Photography
Eve Lamont, Ali Kazimi, Andrei Khabad, Magnus Isacsson
Sound Editing
Olivier Culvert
Yves St-Jean, Magnus Isacsson, Ali Kazimi, Alain Tremblay
Animation Concept and Design
Sophia Southam
Luigi Allemano, Sophia Southam
Original Songs Written and Performed by
David Bernans
Additional Vocals
Linda Morrison, Peter Feldman
About the Director

Magnus Isacsson

Telling dramatic stories which bring crucial social and political issues to the attention of the public – that was Magnus Isacsson’s objective as a documentary filmmaker. In the last fifteen years, he specialized in feature length “process films”, following conflictual situations over long periods of time. Power (Cineflix 1996), told the five-year story of how the Cree Indians defeated Hydro-Québec’s Great Whale megaproject. The film received the award for best documentary at the Paris International Environmental Film Festival in 1997 and the Grand Prize of the Lausanne festival in 1999.  The Choir Boys (Érézi 1999) about Montreal’s choir of homeless men, was nominated for several major Canadian awards and received the Golden Conch at the Mumbai International festival in 2000. The feature length View from the Summit,  (Érézi 2002) is a multi-faceted view of the politics of protest, which the Globe and Mail called “remarkable…riveting”.  Isacsson also co-directed Pressure Point (Multi-Monde 1999), a film on the same theme that received the Quebec Film Critics award for Best Documentary in 2000. Maxime, McDuff and McDo  (Virage), his second film on attempts to unionize McDonald’s restaurants, was nominated for three Gémeaux awards.  Isacsson’s most recent films are ‘The Battle of Rabaska’ ( with Martin Duckworth, ONF 2008) and Art in Action (Amazone Films 2009) which received the Prix Gémeaux for best portrait or biography in 2011. Isacsson received the 2004 Prix Lumières from the Quebec directors’ association. ( ARRQ.)

Magnus Isacsson was born in Sweden in 1948. He immigrated to Canada in 1970 and became a Canadian citizen in 1978. He is fluent in Swedish, English and French and understands Spanish. After studying political science at the Universities of Stockholm and Montreal, Isacsson started his career as a radio producer for Swedish Broadcasting and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation from 1972 to 1980. From 1980 to 1986 he directed numerous current affairs reports and investigative stories for the English and French television networks of the CBC, for programs such as Le Point, Contrechamp and The Fifth Estate.

Isacsson taught audiovisual production at l’INIS, the Quebec film school, and at several universities, including Whitman College in Washington State, the University of Montreal and Concordia U. In the mid-eighties he taught video production in Zimbabwe and South Africa for Montreal-based Vidéo Tiers Monde (Third World Video). He directed an instructional tape on video production, which received the award for best audiovisual production from the Association for Audiovisual Teaching Techniques in 1991. He was a member and former co-chair of the Documentary Association of Canada (DOC), a member of the Association des Réalisateurs et Réalisatrices du Québec (ARRQ), and of SARTEC. He was also vice-president of the Observatoire du documentaire.

Isacsson passed away in 2012.

Other films by Magnus Isacsson

Sophia Southam