Film, Video & New Media

I am a documentary filmmaker who has learned that real life doesn't need a script, but it does need a keen eye and a good editor. I have an extensive background in film and video production, working as a producer, director and sound recordist. Several of the films I have worked on have won awards. I have also produced or participated in the production of a variety of online materials, and my work occasionally ends up being discussed in the media. Below is list of some of the film and media projects I have been associated with over the past several years. Follow the links to more detailed descriptions of the items I have listed below. Look for full length versions of some of the items below on Vimeo or find them elsewhere on the web.

A Question of Development (2012)

This is a channel I created on Vimeo as a tool for teaching about international development. On this channel you will find a series of 52 short videos produced with outtakes from "Citoyens du Monde/Citizens of the World, a film series in French and English about research for development. A Question of Development provides a framework for introducing concepts in international development. Each video has a question attached to it and the videos are answers to the question by development researchers, practitioners and partners. Each video is less than 3 minutes in length because they are meant to serve as introductions to specific development challenges. They are intended mobilize knowledge about development issues and to engage students. I use them in my classes to stimulate discussion around specific topics. These videos have been used in a wide range of courses in the Social Sciences because the themes are relevant to many subject areas. Although the focus is primarily on the Global South, the issues concern us all. Click here to see what A Question of Development is all about. 

Under the Red Star (2011) 

Under the Red Star, a.k.a.Big Finn Hall,  is a feature length docu-drama, in Finnish and English, about the vibrant culture and politics at the heart of Canada’s largest labour hall. This film  was shot on 16mm, it integrates archival footage, photos and fictionalized scenes to bring to life the Hall’s lively and dramatic past. Under the Red Star is produced by Ron Harpelle and directed by Kelly Saxberg. It stars Elena Leeve, and Jussi Nikkilä and 50 other local actors had speaking parts in the film. They were supported by a cast of 220 extras. The film project is supported by funding from the Ontario Arts Council, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, the Institute of Migration in Turku, Finland.

Northern Grown  (2011)

In the Thunder Bay region, where agricultural land is framed by the jutting fingers of the rocky Canadian Shield and where farms were carved out of the Boreal Forest by turn-of-the-20th-Century pioneers, farming is not an obvious career choice for young people to make.  Unlike the established patterns of the Canadian Prairies or the Niagara region, producing food in Northwestern Ontario requires a special kind of farmer.  As part of our research The Food Security Research Network interviewed five local producers of basic foods in an effort to better understand the challenges they face. 

In Security   (2010)

2010 People's Choice Award, Bay Street Film Festival

In Security is a documentary film about how barbed wire, a simple 19th century invention used to claim land for agricultural purposes, has evolved into a silent sentinel that acts as a means of control over people and spaces around the world. Since its inception, barbed wire has become a ubiquitous feature of our daily lives, yet we never give it a second thought. It surrounds pastures in the countryside, parking lots, homes and other buildings. While its general purpose is to establish a boundary, barbed wire is also used as a frontline obstacle by the military forces of the world, as a boundary marker between countries, and as an impenetrable wall around prisons and other institutions where absolute control over the movement of human beings is required. Used everywhere for security purposes, it also speaks loudly about the insecurity of our times.

 “A compelling and fascinating film!  Using "barbed wire" as a theme that cuts across a variety of different global injustices, In Security reminds us of the barriers and inequalities yet to be overcome in the struggle for a better world” Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada


Life is But a Dream... (2010)


“Life Is But A Dream…” is a collaborative effort by a group of filmmakers belonging to Flash Frame, Thunder Bay's Film and Video Network. The film was made in five days as part of a contest and it is about author Charlie Wilkins who is getting ready to row across the Atlantic Ocean with a group of rowers who will attempt to set a new record of getting From Morocco to Barbados in 30 days. Selected as one of the 12 finalists for International Documentary Challenge at Hot Docs 2010,  receiving an Honourable Mention for the top prize and was named Best of Genre for Sport.


Citoyens du Monde

Documentary series   (2010)


Citoyens du Monde is a six-part documentary film series that follows Ronald Harpelle and Bruce Muirhead in their quest to understand Canadian contributions to research for development. Filmed in 15 countries, the series is broken down into six themes. The six themes are;

- Water and Development,

- Women and Development

- Politics and Development

- Health and Development

- ICTs and Development

- Emerging Economies and Development

La Presse (2009)

This is a series of articles about the subject of a documentary film I currently have in post-production. The film is entitled “What I Learned in Prison” and it is about the life of Robert Hillary King, the only free member of the Angola 3. The articles in La Presse explain the background to the film and introduce Robert King. The short videos that appeared on Cyberpresse were compiled using footage from the film.

For more information about this project, visit


The Hoito Project (2007)

The Hoito Project is a community fundraising effort involving a number of musicians from Thunder Bay. The musicians were backed up by Finnish guitar legend Jukka Tolonen and his band, Cool Train. The proceeds from this DVD are used to support renovations to the Finnish Labour Temple at 314 Bay Street in Thunder Bay.

For more information about this project click here.


Canadá en las Américas-
Radio Canada International



Canadá en las Américas (Radio Canada International)

Reporter: Ginette Law

Médium / Médium: Radio

An Interview with Ron Harpelle on IDRC's role in Chile's transition to democracy; featuring sound bites from the IDRC Speaker Series with H. E. Ricardo Lagos.

Entrevue de Ron Harpelle sur le rôle que le CRDI a joué au Chili pendant la transition du pays à la démocratie; comprend des extraits de la Conférence du CRDI qu'a prononcée Son Excellence Ricardo Lagos.

Escuche / Click to listen

Embalam Knowledge Centre, India (2006)

This video is a cut of a meeting we had in 2006 with community members of Embalam, India where Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) has helped to fund a computer based knowledge centre. Myself  and Bruce Muirhead (University of Waterloo) are writing a history of the IDRC and were able to meet with scientists and researchers in Delhi and Tamil Nadu to learn about the IDRC in India. This clip is a series of three we put together as part of our early research into our documentary series, Citoyens du Monde.

For more information about the IDRC and this project, visit or 


Turning Points for Teens (2006)

This is a 14 part series on eating disorders among young women. The series was co-produced with Dr. Ron Davis of Lakehead University’s Department of Psychology.

For more information about this project click here.


Dorothea Mitchell: A Reel Pioneer (2006)

Dorothea Mitchell was born in Britain, raised in India and immigrated to Canada in 1904. After settling in Northwestern Ontario she became the first single woman to be granted a homestead in Ontario, and became the first woman in Canada to make independent films. Along the way, she became known as the Lady Lumberjack and later distinguished herself as an author. A Reel Pioneer is a film about Dorothea Mitchell and the Port Arthur Amateur Cinema Society. Together, they made the first feature-length amateur film in Canada and their story, told through the eyes of Dorothea Mitchell, is brought back in the form of a historical documentary. Dorothea Mitchell's story is an inspiration to women everywhere. A Reel Pioneer is currently being broadcast in Canada on the BRAVO! channel.For more information about this film, click anywhere on this sentence.


The Fatal Flower (2004)

The Fatal Flower Project is a broad-spectrum effort to preserve and enhance Canada's film history. The project is a co-operative effort by a group of cinema enthusiasts to finish a silent film, produce a video package of the most significant collection of amateur films made in Canada before the advent of sound, republish a book written by the first female independent filmmaker in Canada, and create an interactive educational package that ties everything together. The Fatal Flower Project is both historical and pedagogical.


Banana Split (2002)

This is an except from my award winning documentary about Bananas. The banana is the cheapest fruit you can buy in Canada at any time of the year and Canadians eat approximately 3 billion bananas a year. In Canadian supermarkets bananas account for over 10% of total sales in the produce section and 1% of total sales. All this despite the fact that the nearest plantation is 5000 kilometres away and the banana is the most perishable fruit on our store shelves. Banana Split takes the viewer on a journey that begins with the hustle and bustle of a fruit market in Thunder Bay, Ontario and ends up with an examination of the daily challenges of life in Honduras. In addition to being a popular fruit in Canada, bananas are used as a staple food in more than 100 tropical and sub-tropical countries.


Electronic Guide to the West Indian Diaspora in Middle America (2001)


This was my first New Media project. In an effort to give something back to the people whose history I began building my career around, I have put together a chronological list of the documents I’ve found over the years. With this website, researchers can find out about obtain copies of documents without having to travel the world. In countries like Costa Rica, students do not even have to venture to San Jose to see out materials for projects on the history of the Atlantic coast region.

For more information about this project, visit