Walker also received a Gemini for best documentary director for The Hand of Stalin and a Genie for best feature documentary Strand – Under the Dark Cloth, a personal portrait of his mentor, the photographer and filmmaker Paul Strand. His film on the Cape Breton coal miners’ choir, Men of the Deeps, won three Gemini Awards, including best performing arts, best documentary photography and best sound, as well as a best director nomination. The film garnered three million viewers during its CTV broadcast.
Born in Montreal, Walker made several films for British television, including two films in the BBC October Films trilogy The Hand of Stalin, which addressed the extreme human suffering under Stalin’s regime. “Oral history at its most devastating,” London’s Daily Mail said at the time, while the Observer noted, “words fail the enormity of what these films reveal.”
Walker’s directorial credits on Great Britain’s Channel 4 include Hidden Children, a film about children who concealed their Jewish identity to survive the Holocaust; Orphans of Manchuria; and the ground-breaking Distress Signals, based on the communication theories of Canadian scholar Harold Innis.
With Utshimassits: Place of the Boss, he turned his attention to a tragedy on Canadian soil – juxtaposing the powerful testimony of the Mushuau Innu of Davis Inlet with the vast Labrador landscape. Walker’s feature-length films include The Fairy Faith, Tough Assignment, and the critically acclaimed feature drama A Winter Tan, starring Jackie Burroughs, who won a Genie award for best actress.
Walker also co-produced, wrote and directed the provocative feature film Passage, a fiction/documentary for BBC and History Television about the search for the fabled Northwest Passage. The Toronto Star called it “One of the great triumphs in Canadian documentary film history.”
His feature documentary A Drummer’s Dream was described by the Globe and Mail as “Beautifully shot and recorded with a lovely sound … (it) isn’t really about drumming, but about joy and self-expression.”
His feature, Arctic Defenders, tells the remarkable story of the creation of Nunavut, the largest land claim in western civilization orchestrated by young Inuit visionaries. It won the Best Feature Film Award from the Atlantic International Film Festival.
Walker took us on a personal journey charting the aftermath of Quebec’s Quiet Revolution in the 1960s in his most recent feature film Quebec My Country Mon Pays. It won the Writers Guild of Canada award for Best Documentary Script, and the Nova Scotia Screen Awards for Best Documentary. The Vancouver International Film Festival’s Jury Citation gave it an Honorable Mention for the Best Documentary of 2016 saying, “[it] should be mandatory viewing for all Canadians.” Hot Docs held its World Premiere and it screened at RIDM in Montreal and FIPA in France, among other festivals.
His passionate commitment to the documentary form led him to co-found DOC, Documentary Organization of Canada. Now based in Halifax, Walker conducts master classes across the country and mentors numerous emerging filmmakers. He served as guest programmer for Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and was a board member from 2011- 2017. In 2018, he was honoured with a Hot Docs Focus On Retrospective and a Canadian Society of Cinematographers Masters Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Art of Cinematography.