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James Cullingham

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Movies  In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey
Nominations  Canadian Screen Award for Best History Documentary Program or Series

Director james cullingham gives a q a at the saga of john fahey leeds film festival screening

James Cullingham (born March 5, 1954) is a Canadian filmmaker, writer and educator. He is a Journalism professor at Seneca College and president of Tamarack Productions in Toronto. Cullingham has directed and produced award winning documentary films based on Aboriginal rights, history and popular culture. Cullingham has a PhD in History from York University in Toronto. Cullingham is fluently bilingual in French and has a working knowledge of Spanish.


His is known for his documentary series As Long As The River Flows (1991), political films such as Lessons in Fear (2005) and We Have Such Things At Home (1997), and his most recent documentary, In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey (2012) which has been broadcast by BBC and screened theatrically in 20 countries on 5 continents.

Cullingham is also a freelance writer contributing currently for The Toronto Star, The Globe And Mail and The Journal for Wild Culture. He has also written for Aboriginal Voices, MOJO, Maclean’s and NOW! Toronto.

He is a national director on the board of The Canadian Association of Journalists.

Tamarack Productions

Tamarack Productions is a film company that Cullingham launched in 1989, releasing its first productions in 1991, As Long as the Rivers Flow, a 5-part documentary series on Aboriginal rights in Canada which has been broadcast and distributed globally in English and French (Tant que coulent les rivières.) Most recently, Tamarack Productions released In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey in 2012, a documentary that follows the life and legacy of American guitarist, composer, writer and iconoclast, John Fahey. The documentary was directed, produced and executive produced by Cullingham, and has been screened around the world with much praise.

Selected filmography

  • The Pass System (2015), executive producer
  • In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey
  • Released: Oct. 2012 Director, Producer, Executive producer

  • Dishonour Defied
  • Released: 2007 Directed by: Azara Rashid Executive Producer, Producer

  • Lessons In Fear
  • Released: 2005 Director, Producer

  • We Have Such Things At Home
  • Released: October 1997 Director, Producer

  • Duncan Campbell Scott: The Poet and The Indians
  • Released: 1994 Director, Producer

    Selected radio productions

    Education on the West Bank CBC Radio One June 2005

    Lessons in Loathing CBC Radio One April 2004

    Nisga'a and the BC Election CBC Radio National Network May 1996

    The Comeback of Howie Morenz CBC Radio/National Syndication/ Satire Series Written by: Roy McGregor Performed by: Booth Savage

    Confessions of a Dead Head Prime Time, CBC Radio June 1992

    A Forgotten Frontier, Aboriginal Rights in B.C. CBC Radio January 1986

    The Ghost of Busher Jackson CBC Radio March 1986

    Broadcast - journalism career

    Cullingham’s career in Journalism began in 1983 as a producer, documentarian and line-up editor for Sunday Morning at CBC Radio. He was promoted in 1985 to Desk Producer, and was moved to Producer of Morningside for CBC Radio in 1986. That same year, he became Senior Producer of As It Happens (CBC Radio). In 1987, Cullingham moved to Executive Producer of As It Happens until 1989, when he returned to Sunday Morning (CBC Radio), becoming an Executive Producer until 1990.

    In 1989, Cullingham created Tamarack Productions, producing its first project, As Long As The Rivers Flow, in 1991. The television series focuses on Aboriginal rights in Canada, in both modern and historical times, and was broken up into five one-hour episodes - Flooding in Job’s Garden, The Learning Path, Starting Fire with Gunpowder, Tikinagan and Time Immemorial. The series brought together notable directors in this subject area in Canada including Hugh Brody, Gil Cardinal, Boyce Richardson and Loretta Todd. Peter Raymont of White Pine Pictures was series Executive Producer.

    Cullingham returned to CBC in 1997 to work as a Producer for Canada: A People’s History. He stayed there until 2000, and moved to VisionTV Insight as a Supervising Producer and Story Editor.

    In 2002, Cullingham began his career as a Broadcast-Journalism professor at Seneca College, Seneca@York in Toronto. He was the Journalism program coordinator from 2004 to 2011. Cullingham currently teaches documentary courses in the Journalism program, along with History in English and Liberal Studies program.

    Cullingham has done guest lectures and screenings at a number of universities including Concordia University, Queen’s University, the University of Western Ontario, University of Toronto, York University, l’École normale supérieure and EFAP Images et médias in Paris. He conducts documentary master classes at EFAP annually.


    Cullingham contributes frequently to publications including the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and the Journal of Wildlife Culture. He began writing in 1984 for various publications such as Aboriginal Voices, Maclean’s, MOJO, NOW Magazine, Ontario Indian, Pollution Probe, Saturday Night and Bulletin of Latin American Studies.

    His publications include articles concerning Aboriginal rights in Canada, Canadian Politics, sports and a variety of others.


    Cullingham was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. As a youth he also resided in Florida and Switzerland where he completed his high school studies.

  • 2014 - received History PhD from York University with his dissertation: “Scars of Empire: A Juxtaposition of Duncan Campbell Scott and Jacques Soustelle.”
  • 2008 - doctoral research at the L'Université de Paris Sorbonne
  • 2005 - received Master of Arts degree in History at the University of Toronto, began PhD in History at York University
  • 1980 - graduated Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, with an Honours B.A. in Native Studies and French
  • Selected awards

  • Worldfest- Houston International Film Festival - Silver Remi Winner for In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey - Houston, Texas, 2013.
  • International Wildlife Film Festival - Top prize for Film Dealing with Aboriginal Peoples; Awards of Merit for Balanced Presentation of a Controversial Subject and Script - Missoula, Montana, 1995.
  • American Indian Film Festival - Producers Award, Tamarack Productions - San Francisco, 1991.
  • Nyon International Documentary Film Festival (Switzerland) - Director: Gill Cardinal - The People's Jury Award - Tikinagan, 1991.
  • Two Rivers Native Film and Video Festival - “New Visionary" Awards to directors Gil Cardinal, David Poisey and Loretta Todd for their films in As Long As The Rivers Flow - Minneapolis, 1991.
  • References

    James Cullingham Wikipedia

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