- BJ / 78
Giselle Portenier is an acclaimed journalist and documentary filmmaker who focuses on human rights issues around the world. Her groundbreaking films have received numerous international prizes, including two Peabody Awards (the television equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize).
After graduating from Carleton’s journalism program, Portenier started her career as a news reporter and anchor in Vancouver. In 1986, she joined the BBC in England, where she produced and directed dozens of documentaries during her 20 years there, including Murder in Purdah about honour killings in Pakistan, which resulted in the introduction of the first laws banning honour killings there. Her film The Baby Trade, about shady international adoption practices in Paraguay, shut down the adoption industry in this Central American country, and her film Let Her Die, documenting the systematic abortion of the female fetus in India, prompted the introduction of laws banning sex-determination. Among her other films are Condemned to Live, detailing the torture and sexual violence during Rwanda’s genocide; The Slave Children, revealing child slavery in West Africa; Israel Accused, an investigation into Israel’s human rights abuses in Khiam prison in Southern Lebanon; and The Disposables, exposing the practice of social cleansing in Colombia.
In 2001 Portenier was the first CanWest Global visiting professor at UBC’s school of journalism in Vancouver. Based in Toronto, she regularly lectures on journalism and human rights.