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Join Tasha Simms and Marc Caron as they speak with award – winning film and television director Michael McNamara about the upcoming episode of Nature of Things – “Pass the Salt” airing January 17 and CBC Gem streaming.
Our apologies, due to technical difficulties we were not able to get Michael on the program. Listen in as Tasha and I still discussed the program. A great perspective on what we have been led to believe about salt.
For decades, salt has been labelled “bad” for us but this has recently been complicated by findings on the importance, nay the necessity, of salt in our diets. Weaving these two opposing sides together, Pass the Salt shows the complexity not of only salt but of our own bodies.
Pass the Salt
a film by Michael McNamara
World Broadcast Premiere
CBC The Nature of Things
January 17, 2020
9pm (9:30 NT)
In the past few years, many assumptions about salt have been challenged and even overturned. Salt is an electrolyte, essential to our heart, nerve and muscle functions. It is our oldest food preservative, and the most important ingredient in food flavouring and preparation. But it continues to confound expectations in the role it plays in our biology. There’s no downside to lowering tobacco and alcohol consumption to zero. But zero salt could be even deadlier than too much. Pass the Salt, a documentary by Michael McNamara (ADHD: Not Just For Kids, The Cholesterol Question), premieres on The Nature of Things, Friday January 17, on CBC and the free CBC Gem streaming service.
Pass the Salt introduces us to experts like cardiologist Dr. Clyde Yancy, the former president of the American Heart Association, who has reviewed scores of studies and concluded, “there is no evidence of sodium restriction health benefits, whatsoever.” We meet nutritionist Chelsea Cross, who specializes in the danger zone of athletes whose sodium intake is insufficient for the amount they lose in physical exercise (a deficiency that has resulted in death among some marathon runners, when combined with excess water intake).
“There is definitely a war on salt,” says director McNamara. “The medical community has held onto its guidelines unquestioningly for almost a half-century. But it’s a mistake to consider salt a vice – like fat, chocolate or tobacco. We cannot simply go cold-turkey. It is part of our nature – we evolved from sea creatures who now walk on land, carrying an ocean deep inside of us.”
“In the course of making the film we learned that there are many shades of grey in our relationship with salt, and there are still amazing things yet to discover,” continues McNamara. “Dangers and benefits will continue to be discovered. But mostly what we discover about salt will be discoveries about ourselves.”
The film reveals startling results of the Russian Mars 500 Project, which monitored the physiology of volunteers in an experiment meant to replicate conditions of a lengthy stay in space. Counter-intuitive findings, that “missing” sodium in the body, unaccounted for by excretion, were followed by MRI tests in Singapore that showed salt was incorporated into the body and increased with age. But as always with “the white wonder,” the jury was out whether that was a symptom of age, or an attempt by the body to resist it.
Finally, the viewer is treated to a chef’s- eye view of a high-end meal prepared at the Stratford Chefs School, to see how much salt really gets used behind the scenes. The results are surprising, considering all the shaking going on!
About Markham Street Films
Award winning Markham Street Films Inc., based in Stratford, Ontario, specializes in documentary one-offs, features and series as well as dramatic feature films & series. Partners Judy Holm and Michael McNamara and VP Aaron Hancox, produce provocative documentaries about social issues, the body, and culture & entertainment. McNamara is a Gemini Award winning director, writer and editor while partner Judy Holm is a Gemini Award winning producer. In addition to documentaries, McNamara has written and directed award-winning comedy and music specials, London and Broadway theatre film adaptations, live action and animation for children. He’s now writing a film adaption of the novel Heaven is Small. (No awards yet for scratchy record-collecting.) Holm has produced documentary and drama with Markham Street after working in feature film distribution for over a decade and, prior to that, the fashion industry. She has written two feature comedy scripts, one about an intercultural marriage and one about aging fashion models. It is not called Catwalk. That film was created by VP Aaron Hancox, a furry felines fan.
About Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara has directed more than 60 hours of award – winning film and television. Born in Chicago and raised in the US, England and Windsor, Canada, Michael McNamara presently lives in Stratford, ON, where he works as a filmmaker, screenwriter and director. His first feature drama, The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati won critical acclaim at many international film festivals in Canada, the US and the UK and earne d a Best Actor Genie nomination for its star, Alan Williams. In February 2002, he launched Markham Street Films with his partner Judy Holm, specializing in documentary and narrative projects that are edgy, smart, provocative and funny. McNamara has directe d and produced a number of award – winning films including Radio Revolution: The Rise and Fall of the Big 8 (2004, SXSW, Best History Program Gemini winner), 100 Films & A Funeral (2007), Acquainted With the Night (2011), Fight For Justice: David & Me (2014) , The Trick With the Gun (2015), and Celtic Soul (2016), a feature soccer road trip documentary starring Jay Baruchel and Eoin O’Callaghan, while also producing narrative features like Big News From Grand Rock (2014) and Level 16 (2018). He has directed an d produced a number of projects for the CBC including Lights Out! (2012), Ice, Sweat & Tears (2013), The Cholesterol Question (2014), Once An Immigrant (2017), ADHD: Not Just For Kids (2017) for CBC’s The Nature of Things, and co – directed and produced Catw alk: Tales From the Cat Show Circuit (2018) and Pugly: A Pug’s Life (2019) for CBC Docs POV . C urrently i n development are Cat Man Confidential and Catwalk : The Series , both for CBC , and c urrently in production are Year of the Goat , for CBC Docs POV , and Free Roaming: The Secret World of Outdoor Cats for TVO
BIOGRAPHIES OF CREATIVE PERSONNEL
Judy Holm – Producer / Executive Producer
With her award-winning company Markham Street Films, producer/writer Judy Holm has
produced feature docs David & Me, Acquainted With the Night, 100 Films & A Funeral, The Trick With the Gun, and Celtic Soul starring Jay Baruchel, as well as over fifty hours of documentaries for major broadcasters, including most recently ADHD: Not Just For Kids (2017), Catwalk: Tales From the Cat Show Circuit (2018), and Pugly: A Pug’s Life (2019), all for CBC. Currently Markham Street Films is producing Year of the Goat for CBC Docs POV, Free Roaming: The Secret World of Outdoor Cats for TVO, and Pass the Salt for CBC’s The Nature of Things. Holm also produces narrative features. Markham Street Films produced the feature film Victoria Day (2009, Sundance Film Festival), co-produced Hold Fast (2013) and produced and distributed Big News From Grand Rock (2015). The feature YA thriller Level 16, written & directed by Danishka Esterhazy was released in 2018, and became a festival hit, selling internationally. Holm is currently financing Jagged Winter, Esterhazy’s next feature, and developing the thriller Your Life is Mine from the novel by Nathan Ripley, as well as comedies The Return of The Fabulous 7 and Heaven is Small. Ms. Holm produced the short film Bird (with writer/director Molly Parker), which premiered at TIFF 2017. She started her film career in distribution, becoming VP Distribution, Canada for PolyGram Filmed Entertainment before turning to production with Markham Street Films and had previously worked in fashion and communications.
Aaron Hancox – Producer
Aaron Hancox is a producer and director with Markham Street Films, originally from Montreal, whose work has been broadcast and distributed internationally. His first film, Cinema L’Amour, won the Best Student Documentary at the 2007 Montreal World Film Festival. In 2011, he directed and co-wrote Unheralded for TVO. Since that time, Hancox has produced numerous titles with MSF, which have been nominated for multiple Canadian Screen Awards, including Ice, Sweat & Tears (2013), an inside look at the world of competitive figure skating for CBC; and David & Me (2014) for TVO, a wrongful conviction documentary that sold to Netflix and premiered at the Hot Docs Film Festival. In 2016, Hancox produced Celtic Soul (Super Channel), a feature doc following actor Jay Baruchel on an epic soccer fan’s road trip. Once An Immigrant for CBC’s Firsthand, and ADHD: Not Just For Kids for CBC’s The Nature of Things both premiered in 2017. Aaron co-directed and produced Catwalk: Tales From the Cat Show Circuit (2018) for CBC Docs POV, which became a smash hit on Netflix worldwide, as well as Pugly: A Pug’s Life (2019), also for CBC Docs POV. Currently in development are Cat Man Confidential for CBC, as well as Catwalk: The Series for CBC. Currently in production are Year of the Goat for CBC and Free Roaming: The Secret World of Outdoor Cats for TVO.
Kaz (Kazuyoshi) Ehara – Director of Photography
Kaz Ehara is a Toronto-based cinematographer, and Director of Photography at Verity Creative. He studied Journalism at Kansai University in Osaka, Japan, and graduated from the Photojournalism program at Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario. Kaz is a past recipient of a National Magazine Award for his print photography, and his work in documentary photography led to a love of storytelling and film. Past clients include the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, for whom he created nine short documentaries that aired during the 2015 games, NHK World, and many commercial clients in Canada and Japan. His first feature film, Sweet Dreams for Chiyo, was commissioned by CBC, and aired on Docs POV in 2018. Kaz was director of photography for Markham Street Films’ Pugly: A Pug’s Life (2019), also produced for CBC Docs POV.
Kyle Gregory Sanderson – Editor
Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Kyle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies from the University of Manitoba and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production from Ryerson University. Working in narrative and documentary editing he has edited music videos for Drake, The New Pornographers, and Jazz Cartier. Sanderson has screened internationally at festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival, the Fantasia International Film Festival, and CPH:DOX among others. Kyle edited the Markham Street Films documentaries Catwalk: Tales From the Cat Show Circuit (2018) and Pugly: A Pug’s Life (2019), both for CBC Docs POV.
Kenny Neal Jr. – Composer
Kenny Neal Jr. is a Canadian film score composer and musician. Kenny began scoring music for film in 2002, working on music for the Dreamworks feature Biker Boyz and composing the original score for Love, Sex and Eating The Bones, which premiered at TIFF and won the award for Best Canadian First Feature Film. Kenny has gone on to compose original music for films and TV shows such as Doomstown (Gemini award for Best TV Movie 2007), Guns (Gemini nomination for Best Original Score 2010), and Dan For Mayor (Canadian Screen Awards nomination for Best Comedy Series 2010) and Home Again (Audience Award for best feature film at the Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival 2013). Kenny has also toured and recorded as the drummer for the legendary James Cotton Blues band, playing many notable venues such as the Hollywood Bowl and Jazz at Lincoln Center. In 2010, he recorded the album Giant with Cotton, for which he received a Grammy nomination in the ‘Best Traditional Blues Album’ category. Kenny has served as musical director and bassist for numerous other artists including Kardinal Offishall and Zaki Ibrahim. Kenny has appeared on many nationally televised performances, as well as four We Day stadium tours for WE Charity. Kenny composed music for the Markham Street Films documentaries Catwalk: Tales From the Cat Show Circuit (2018) and Pugly: A Pug’s Life (2019), both for CBC Docs POV.