For Immediate Release (TORONTO) — Merit Jensen Carr, whose Winnipeg-based production company, Merit Motion Pictures, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, received an anniversary surprise of her own today — the announcement that she had won documentary’s Don Haig Award, to be presented by the Hot Docs Board of Directors on May 3.The Don Haig Award is presented to an outstanding Canadian independent producer with a feature-length film in competition at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, running April 25-May 5.The Haig Award recognizes Jensen Carr’s creative vision and entrepreneurial spirit as embodied not only by her Hot Docs Festival film entry, Special Ed, but also by a substantial body of work spanning her entire career to date.Special Ed, a 100-minute feature documentary produced by Merit Motion Pictures and directed by John Paskievich, an award-winner in his own right, has its world premiere tonight at the TIFF Bell Lightbox 3 at 6:00 p.m. ET. The film has already made several of the best-of-festival’s top titles to see this year.Founded by Jensen Carr in 1988, Merit Motion Pictures has been in the vanguard of Canadian production companies for the past two decades. As well as highlighting her creative leadership as executive producer of all the company’s films and shows, the Haig Award also acknowledges the mentoring of new Canadian filmmakers, something that comes naturally to the veteran producer. Merit’s great strength has always been her knack for finding great stories, and for assembling teams to turn those stories into great films. Her steady drive and eye for excellence in both projects and people have pushed the company into the forefront of Canadian independents specializing in dramatic and documentary films.“This is an amazing honour,” Jensen Carr said of the Haig Award announcement. “My thanks go to the board of directors of Hot Docs and to the late Don Haig, one of the true heroes of this industry, and another Winnipegger.“I love what I do and the people I work with, it’s that simple. We work together on wonderful projects, full of beauty, insight and hope. There’s nothing more I could want.”Recent work includes TutuMuch, an international festival favourite that was exhibited nationally in Cineplex Odeon theatres and is slated for release in New York this year; the long-running Gemini Award-winning documentary series Recreating Eden; the international co-production transmedia series One Ocean and One Ocean Interactive (winner of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival Award); and Smarty Plants: Uncovering the Secret World of Plant Behaviour, a Canadian Screen Awards winner this year.Merit also sits on the board of On Screen Manitoba, and is chair of DOC Winnipeg, and co-chaired the federal task force on the non-theatrical film industry.Special Ed screenings at Hot Docs:Mon. April 29, 6 p.m., TIFF Bell Lightbox 3Tues. April 30, 10.30 a.m., ROM TheatreSat. May 4, 9.15 p.m., Innis Town HallScreening with Citizens Against Basswood

April 30, 2013