(b. January 1, 1939 Winnipeg, Manitoba)
The precocious product of a creative, working-class family, Cynthia Scott studied English literature and philosophy at the University of Manitoba and graduated with her B.A. when she was nineteen. She worked at the Manitoba Theatre Centre as a second assistant director before embarking on a ten-year career with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a script assistant in Winnipeg. She eventually moved to London, England, where she worked as a researcher for Patrick Watson and Douglas Leiterman on This Hour Has Seven Days. In 1965, she returned to Canada and began working as a public affairs producer for the CBC television programme Take 30.
Scott was hired as a staff director by the National Film Board in 1972 and began producing and directing a number of solid, social-purpose, slice-of-life documentaries. One of these, The Ungrateful Land: Roch Carrier Remembers Ste-Justine (1972), earned her a Canadian Film Award for Best TV Information Programme. In the early eighties, Scott directed three films that reflected her interest in dance, including Flamenco at 5:15 (1983), which won an Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short Subject. She also researched and co-wrote First Winter (1982), directed by John N. Smith (to whom she is married), which received an Academy Award nomination for Best Short Drama.
Scott gained international attention with her endearing, character-driven docudrama, The Company of Strangers (1990), about seven elderly women stranded at a deserted farmhouse. The film, which features non-professional actors (whose average age was seventy-six) and improvised dialogue, is both heartwarming and radical. A box-office hit in Canada and the United States, it received more than a dozen major international awards and grossed more than four million dollars outside Canada.
Scott is currently recovering from cancer. She had been developing an adaptation of Carol Shields’ novel The Stone Diaries, and plans to resume work on it when her health returns to normal.
Film and video work includes
Take 30 series, 1965-72 (co-producer; producer; TV, 71 episodes)
The Clarksons, Telescope series, 1970 (director; TV)
Jack Chambers, Man Alive series, 1971 (producer; TV)
The Ungrateful Land: Roch Carrier Remembers Ste-Justine, Adieu Alouette series, 1972 (director)
Ruth and Harriet: Two Women of the Peace, West series, 1973 (producer)
Some Natives of Churchill, West series, 1973 (director; producer)
Listen Listen Listen, 1976 (producer)
Scoggie, Atlanticanada series, 1975 (director)
Road Test Clip, 1976 (producer)
Canada Vignettes: Holidays, 1978 (co-producer with Edward Le Lorrain)
Canada Vignettes: The Thirties, 1978 (co-producer with Edward Le Lorrain)
Arioli: Running, You've Got the Power series, 1979 (producer)
Teenagers, You've Got the Power series, 1979 (producer)
My Sisters, Man of Might series, 1979 (producer)
Fit In, Man of Might series, 1979 (producer)
For the Love of Dance, 1981 (co-director, co-producer and co-editor with John N. Smith, Michael McKennirey, David
Gala, 1982 (backstage director)
Discussions in Bioethics: A Chronic Problem, 1985 (director)
Jack of Hearts, 1986 (director)
The Bus, 1988 (director)