Laura Sky, Executive Director / Producer / Director of the Sky Works Charitable Foundation
Why are 20,000 Canadian Children Homeless?
November 20, 2008
For the past three decades, Laura Sky has worked as a documentary filmmaker exploring social issues such as the changing role of women, the needs of children and families, the politics and economics of the workplace, human rights and the reorganization of health care policy and practices. Sky Works Charitable Foundation, a non-profit documentary organization established by Laura in 1983, produces films and uses them as community development tools. The foundation’s work has been used to create peer support networks for women, children, psychiatric survivors, people struggling with addictions and other constituencies working for social change. Laura has further explored some of these issues in published research, national and international speaking engagements and in documentary courses she has taught in Canada and Europe.
Laura Sky’s body of work includes more than 30 documentaries. Her most recent works are: Extra Ordinary People, Kids Care, Prescription for Addiction, Crisis Call, How Can We Love You? Working Like Crazy and My Son the Tattoo Artist. These and other documentaries have been broadcast on TVOntario, Newsworld, BRAVO! Vision TV, CFCF12, Saskatchewan Communications Network, and Knowledge Network in British Columbia. Her documentaries have also been shown extensively in urban and rural settings across Canada to encourage diverse communities to use documentary film for effective strategic change.
Laura established Sky Works Charitable Foundation, an independent non-profit documentary organization, in 1983. Sky Works, unique in Canada and innovative in its approach, makes documentaries that deal with contemporary social issues and then uses those documentaries as community development tools to help concerned communities create strategies for change. Many Sky Works films have won international and community service awards.
Laura began her filmmaking career as a Program Coordinator at the National Film Board’s Challenge for Change program, where she integrated film and video production with community organizing and development programs.
The strength and vitality of her current work with Sky Works is rooted in strong working relationships with the communities with whom, and for whom, we make our films. These communities are involved in every aspect of our work from research to post-production. We travel our completed documentaries to communities across Canada, however small or remote, where we work with local organizations to encourage citizens to take part in dialogue, advocacy and support for issues that matter to them.
Teaching and Lecturing
Laura has lectured extensively and taught documentary production throughout Canada, Sweden and Germany. She has been an Associate Professor of Film Studies at Queen's University and at Ryerson Polytechnic University. She has also taught undergraduate courses at York University. For ten years, she was a guest lecturer at the Swedish Film Institute and travelled throughout that country and Germany on speaking tours.
In April 2007, the Council on Foundations’ 40th Annual Film and Video Festival in Seattle, Washington honored Kids Care with a Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Film & Digital Media. On June 5, 2004, Laura received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Laurentian University for her achievements as "one of Canada's most distinguished documentary filmmakers". In 2004 and 2005, she received the Media Award for "outstanding contribution to the coverage of mental health issues" from the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Ontario Achievement Awards Program. In 1986, Laura was honoured with the Woman of Distinction Award from the YWCA of Metro Toronto for her contribution to arts and letters. Retrospectives of her documentary work have been screened in Canada and in Sweden.