6 November 2001 --
Robert Lang is an internationally recognized and award-winning documentary
television producer/director, the president of Kensington Communications
Inc with more than 25 years of production experience. Taking on gripping
topics in science, the environment and social issues, providing performing
arts programs and musical specials, Lang's work is very impressive. Since
the 1980's Lang has worked with Bruce on projects ranging from public
service announcements for USC Canada to a documentary on his trip to Nepal.
He traveled to Mali to produce the innovative River of Sand project on
desertification and now is working on 'The Life and Times of Bruce Cockburn'
for CBC TV, which will be aired on 27 November 2001.
[see the article on this site for more information.]
When interviewed, 2 November 2001, Mr. Lang responded candidly and shared
his thoughts on working with Bruce over the years. "Bruce and I have
shared a long-standing interest in and support for the development work of
In the late 60s, as a teenager, I helped the Montreal
volunteers packing and hauling crates of clothing that were sent overseas
to people in need. In the early 80's (I cannot remember what year exactly),
being a filmmaker, I offered to do USC's TV Public Service announcements
for them. These involved Bruce as the spokesperson for USC. We continued
doing 4-5 of them every year since then right up until last year. In
addition, we worked together in 1987 (1988?) on a 20 minute video journal
of Bruce's trip to Nepal for USC, called Path to Nepal. Then as you know we
did the 1998 River of Sand film and website in Mali."
[editor's note: River of Sand, recently won the Best Canadian Film Award at the Vues d'Afrique Festival in Montreal.]
The River of Sand project provided a unique opportunity for visitors to the
website to ask questions of the team members and interact in a very
meaningful way. Lang was asked how that idea germinated and what special
technology did he put into place to make it happen? He responded, "I had
produced a one minute spot for USC on desertification with Bruce. It
received lots of attention.
When the opportunity arose to do something more
in depth about the problem of desertifiication in Africa, I developed the
TV project that became River of Sand, financed with broadcaster pre-sales
and the Canadian International Development Agency. The website became
integral to the project as an innovative way to spread the ideas to a
different audience than we would reach with the TV program. I like to
experiment with new approaches and I had been thinking for some time about
how to use the potential of interactive media in an engaging way. A very
creative friend, Al Booth, wanted to design the interactive website despite the fact we had
almost no money to do it. He was the driving force behind it. We took a
battery powered satellite phone with us and we called in each evening from
wherever we were in Mali to answer questions which had been emailed in by
the participants. We also sent daily journal entries so that people could
follow our journey overland from the capital city Bamako up to Timbuktu and
south into Dogon country."
[See The Cockburn Project's archived news story on this production.]
Turning attention back to the Life and Times project Lang was asked where the filming for this current project took place and why those places were chosen. Lang noted that they shot footage in Toronto, while Bruce was moving, recording and in concert; Ottawa, where his parents live and where his career started; Montreal, which is his new home and where his daughter lives; Vermont, where a good friend lives and in New York during a recording session with innovative jazz pianist Andy Milne.
For further reading about the life and times of Robert Lang
To contact Kensington Communications Inc
Suzanne DeMuth Myers