Charles Konowal studied at the Minneapolis School of Art after graduating from high school in 1968 but the US draft system forced him to return to his homeland in Canada. He settled in Vancouver where he continued to pursue a career as an artist for a number of years. But a commission to paint a mural in a private home lead to an unexpected opportunity to explore the world of documentary filmmaking. That chance opportunity changed his career path and since the mid 70’s Charles has journeyed around the world exploring our planet through the art of documentary filmmaking.

Today he is best known as a cinematographer/filmmaker with years of experience in both fiction and non-fiction production. He has directed, photographed and performed duties as a creative producer on numerous documentary films over the years. His first professional film he directed was Grain Elevator for the NFB in 1980, an observational film on the iconic prairie sentinel which led to the award winning production The Defender. He directed Passing Shadows, a film exploring the world of the poet Andrew Suknaski between cinematography gigs. A few years later, he produced and photographed the NFB Prairie Studio’s first feature length documentary Fat Chance, which went on to win a Peabody Award. He has also worked with the IMAX Corporation producing the first IMAX Magic Carpet production, Flowers in the Sky for an international expo in Osaka, Japan and Mark Twain’s America a 3D IMAX production for Sony Classics produced by The Stephan Low Company.

Charles continues to explore the world of documentary production as a producer, director and cinematographer. He has completed six documentaries on the Winnipeg music scene, This is a Riot, a intimate portrait of a Rockabilly duo struggling to be true to their art and survive in the world of pop. Happily Dysfunctional tells the story of Transistor 66, an independent recording label making waves in the music scene.  Chasing a Song observes Scott Nolan in search of songwriting insight that leads him on a road trip to Folsom prison to settle some unfinished family business. In 2014 he produced and directed Visiting Day, a TV hour version of Chasing a Song for CBC broadcast and the intimate feature documentary portrait Ain’t About the Money about bluesman Big Dave McLean. His latest film Lightning in Bottle, features the legendary Mississippi bluesman Watermelon Slim who comes to Winnipeg, Canada to record his new album at Scott Nolan’s recording studio, the Song Shop. Slim was hoping to save some money coming to Canada to record but to his surprise, he discovers a extraordinarily talented and diverse musical community.

Awards & Mentions


Visiting Day - Yorkton Film Festival - Best Arts & Culture

Arctic Defenders - Atlantic International Film Festival - Best Feature Film

Ain’t About the Money - Award of Merit San Francisco Film Awards

Leo Mol: In Light and Shadow - Manitoba Blizzard Awards - Best Documentary

Fat Chance - Peabody Award, Blizzard Awards - Best documentary, Genie nomination for Best Documentary

The Defender - Yorkton Film Festival - Best Documentary, Gemini nomination - Best Documentary

Glimmer of Hope - Bronze Plaque at the 46th Columbus International Film Festival.


Professional Associations

Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television

Canadian Society of Cinematographers (full member)

On Screen Manitoba

Documentary Association of Canada (DOC)

International Documentary Association (IDA)

IA Local 669