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Howard BarishBy MYRON LOVE

Winnipeg-born filmmaker Howard Barish has joined the big leagues.

Over the past couple of years, the LA-based nephew of Earl Barish has transformed his Kandoo Films from a company specializing in doing commercials and promos for new TV shows for the major networks to a production company producing award-winning documentaries and – now – full-length movies.
 In April, Kandoo Films, Inc. announced their upcoming film slate with their first two films, Little Star and Skin in the Game. Both films, according to a press release, are currently in post-production, with a third film going into production starting in June.
The film slate (of six to eight films) is intended to provide opportunities for emerging artists in-front-of and behind the cameras.
 “Little Star”, which stars Analeigh Tipton, is directed by first- time feature length director, Dave Schwep. The movie focuses on starlet Markey Marlowe, abandoned by her friends and family and,  with her career in jeopardy, she is sequestered in a duplex with a reclusive landlord who just may be more damaged than she is.
 “Skin in the Game”, which was directed by an award-winning director/producer who goes by the name Adisa - also making his feature length directorial debut, and starring Erica Ash, is about the horrific underground world of human trafficking.
 “This is an opportunity to give back to the industry, and work with first-time filmmakers looking to tell their story,” stated Barish, the CEO and President of Kandoo Films, in the press release. “This really provides the filmmakers the opportunity to show their craft and get the experience of directing their own project.”
 Kandoo Films is fully financing the entire slate of films, which will be completed over the next two years.
 Howard Barish was born in Winnipeg but left here for Toronto in 1969 - when he was nine - after his father, Sid, moved east to take charge of the Dickie Dee Ice Cream operations for eastern Canada.
 “I originally wanted to be a lawyer,” says Howard Barish, “but my marks weren’t good enough. As I had always liked playing around with cameras, I enrolled in York University’s film and television studies program. I developed a real passion for filmmaking.”
 After graduation from York, Barish went to work for CBC as an assistant director, filming such 1980s TV series  as “Night Heat”, “Chasing Rainbows”, “The Edison Twins” and “E.N.G.”
 He made the move to Hollywood in January 1991. “It was always my dream to go to Hollywood,” he says. “I applied for a green card in the lottery and won.”
 When he arrived in Hollywood, he knew only two producers. He found some work shooting segments for a series called “Women of the World” which led him to Japan and Thailand.
 He began working with a small company directing promos for network shows such as “The Bill Cosby Show” and “Moonlighting”. “When the company went bankrupt,” he says, “I picked up the pieces and built the largest company in Hollywood specializing in producing commercials, movie trailers and promotions for the major networks.”
Barish and Kandoo Films were propelled in a new direction nine years ago when Ava DuVernay came into his life. “This was after the economic crash (2008-2009),” he recounts. “As a result of the crash, business was slow and I had some time on my hands. One day, this woman came into my office. She was a publicist who was looking for some space to rent. A few days after she moved in, she approached me with a script that she wanted to direct. She asked if I would produce it. I had never lost my goal of making movies. So we formed a partnership.”
 Their first project together was the documentary, “This is the Life”,  in 2008, which was a history of LA’s Good Life Cafe arts movement. The documentary won several awards.
 In 2011, they released their first narrative feature film, “I Will Follow”, a story about an artist who puts her career on hold to care for an ailing aunt.
 That same year, they also released “Middle of Nowhere”, about a nurse dealing with her husband’s imprisonment. The film won several film festival awards.
 Their most recent collaboration is 2016’s “13th”, a documentary examining race within the American judicial system. The title refers to the American 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery. The production argues that slavery is being effectively perpetuated through mass incarceration. The film was nominated for eight Emmys and an Academy Award and was also selected to be the opening feature film for this past year’s New York Film Festival.
As well, DuVerney has become ta highly sought-after director in Hollywood. She directed the feature film “Selma”, and currently is directing a Disney movie called ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ which stars Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon, amongst others. The budget for that movie is $100 million US  and is scheduled to be released on March 9, 2018. She is also one of the figures behind the current TV series “Queen Sugar”.
 “What came out of my collaboration with Ava,” Barish says, “was the realization that we (Kandoo) can make good quality movies cost effectively. “We have our own lot and the equipment you need to make movies. We can help emerging artists and story-tellers make their films. We hope that our initial film in our new series (“Little Star”) will be another award winner.

As a post script to this article, which appeared in our Sept. 13 print issue, we received an email from Earl Barish informing us that "13th" had just won four Emmy Awards. Following is an excerpt from an article which appeared online on Sept. 9 on the "Variety" website: ' ”“13th” won for documentary special as well as writing, motion design and original music and lyrics for “The Letter to the Free” by Common, Robert Glasper and Karriem Riggins. The Netflix documentary, which also collected a Peabody Award and an Oscar nomination this year, led the winners field with four trophies.'

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