“A story about the grieving process, a daughter’s attempt to understand the father she lost too soon, and a tribute to a restless and original spirit.”
Canadian filmmaker Peter Wintonick was a hard worker, often living life far from home and family — directing, producing, mentoring, attending festivals around the world.
In 2013, aged 60, he died after a short illness, leaving daughter Mira with a whole lot of questions, and a box full of videotapes shot for his Utopia project. Mira resolved to investigate what sort of film he’d envisaged, and to complete it for him.
A devoted documentary advocate, Wintonick was a regular contributor to and, for some time, the editor of Canada’s documentary magazine, POV. His connections and energy were seemingly without end, according to those who knew and worked with him.
Peter produced the Doc Edge 2012 film, China Heavyweight, by fellow Canadian Yung Chang — whose This is not a Movie appears in this year’s Doc Edge Festival.
In POV’s commemorative issue, published shortly after Peter’s death, Yung called him “My Don Juan/Don King: a hopeless romantic, a fighter for documentary, for human rights”.
“He was such a wise guy
and such a generous guy
because he shared everything he knew.”
— Ally Derks, former director IDFA, Doc Edge Superhero 2014
That sharing, generous Peter was not the Peter Wintonick director Mira knew. The time and energy, the love and nurturing her father put into his work and the documentary community was, often, time he took from her.
A daughter’s love for her father is apparent throughout Wintopia, but it’s hard not to feel that Mira’s quest to assemble the footage her father left behind will ultimately be futile. Her efforts to find her own utopia through her father’s attempts to find his become less Don Juan or Don King than Don Quixote.
Despite that, Wintopia offers up a fascinating collage of footage from Peter’s shoots, home movies from the family archive, scenes from earlier films, and telephone conversations with colleagues and family members.
Reverberating with emotion and whimsy, the film guides us through possible worlds in pursuit of reconciliation, both between artist and family and between dreams and reality, and reminds us that some windmills are worth tilting at.
Previous festival selections include:
Tempo Documentary Film Festival
Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival