UPDATE: Canadians search for hometown friends, heroes and healing in new TVO Original YEARBOOK

The six-part documentary series premieres across Canada on January 16, 2024

Toronto, Ontario, Jan. 10, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Follow six Canadians on their meaningful and nostalgic journeys to reconnect with people from their school days, as they seek to resolve, relive, and better understand the critical events that shaped their lives in the new TVO Original series YEARBOOK. Narrated by Paula Brancati (Degrassi: The Next Generation), the six-part documentary series premieres Tuesday, January 16 at 9:00 p.m. ET on TVO’s broadcast channel in Ontario and nationally on TVO.org and YouTube

“Yearbook opens a window into powerful and relatable stories that will resonate with many in Ontario and beyond,” says John Ferri, VP of Programming and Content at TVO.  "Nostalgia meets reality in some surprising ways, taking us far beyond the idea of friendship as defined by the likes of Facebook." 

Executive produced by Mark Johnston (who also directs and writes) and Amanda Handy (who co-writes and produces) of Nomad Films and Tom Powers of Open Door Co., each episode follows a main subject who is motivated to reconnect with someone from their youth — whether it’s to rekindle a friendship or seek resolution to an emotional scar — and examines the poignant moments and complicated emotions that resurface when revisiting school years from decades past. YEARBOOK also includes interviews with social workers, counsellors, therapists, and other experts who provide analysis of the circumstances experienced by each subject as they navigate their journey.  

“Everyone has a story from their school years that they never resolved,” said Johnston. “This is a show about all of us, and the events that shaped our lives. What if we could find the person who we always wanted to see again, the person who may have wronged us, or inspired us? The person, though, that we could never find.”   

“This series was born out of our nostalgia for our past,” Handy adds. “There’s value in looking back, not just at the relationships during those years, but with the era that shaped us: the music, the fashion, the politics. Hearing from people and then finding and persuading the person they wanted to reconnect with was a lengthy process, but worth it. Viewers will love these stories and identify with them strongly.”  

 “We knew that we couldn’t tell these stories without context,” said Powers. “Whether we were following Joanne’s journey as a trans woman looking to reconnect with her childhood best friend, or Karen’s desire to explore the racism she experienced in elementary school, it was important to us to also have experts study the journey of each subject and add their valuable observations along the way.”  

The series episodes include: 

  • Ep. 1 “Reunion” | Retired geologist Joanne is searching for her closest childhood friend from Toronto. Joanne has recently transitioned from her previous life as Jeff Whitstock, and as she looks to rekindle this friendship, she hopes she will be accepted.  
  • Ep. 2 “Teacher” | Gary is trying to find the teacher he had in Milton, Ont. who helped him overcome his learning disabilities. This teacher remained an influential figure in his life for years, and Gary hopes he can let him know how deeply his life has changed for the better as a result. 
  • Ep. 3 “Girlfriends” | Melisa is an Indigenous healer seeking an old friend from high school. As a teenager growing up in Maple Grove, B.C., Melisa was abused by her stepfather and her friend helped her get through this traumatic time. Melisa wants to offer a healing ceremony to mark their reunion. 
  • Ep. 4 “Apology” | Victoria is a musician with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). She’s trying to reconnect with someone from high school in Orillia, Ont. who could have been a better friend to her. He stood by while others bullied her about her disability. Victoria hopes they can address the past and heal together. 
  • Ep. 5 “Outsiders” | Catherine wants to reconnect with a friend from her hometown of Milton, Ont. who helped her survive the high school bullying that nearly caused her to end her life. This friend took her to prom when no one else would. Over 20 years later, Catherine hopes they can rebuild the friendship that helped them get through such a tough time.  
  • Ep. 6 “Besties” | Karen wants to reconnect with her old best friend in Westminster, B.C. In school, Karen was the only Black student in her class and the racism she experienced impacted her life. She wants to address the issue with her friend, but she doesn’t know how it will go.  

Stream all six episodes of TVO Original Yearbook on TVO.org, YouTube and your preferred smart TV service. Watch it on Tuesdays on TVO’s broadcast channel in Ontario. A series trailer is available ​​here

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TVO Media Education Group inspires learning that changes lives and enriches communities. Founded in 1970, we are a globally recognized digital learning organization that engages Ontarians of all ages with inclusive experiences and diverse perspectives. Through video, audio, games, courses, newsletters and articles, we’re investing in the transformative potential of education for everyone. Funded primarily by the Province of Ontario, TVO is a registered charity supported by thousands of sponsors and donors. Visit TVO.me for more information. Stream TVO on your favourite device

Nomad Films develops and produces documentary programming for film and television that focuses on a wide range of compelling stories about social and political change, science, the environment, and the arts. We are passionate about social-political films. Known for its international treaty co-production work, Nomad has successfully produced films such as the award-winning In the Shadow of a Saint (CBC, BBC, IKON, and SBS Australia). Director/Writer/Executive Producer Mark Johnston is the Founder of Nomad Films which is run by his partner Amanda Handy. Thirty years in the documentary business, Mark and Amanda have worked in a producer or director capacity on over ninety films. Visit NomadFilms.ca

Open Door Co. is in the business of producing, distributing and acquiring “Content That Matters” for broadcasters that include HBO, A+E, Sundance, CBC/Doc, TVO, Bell Media, Corus/Shaw, SVT, SBS, NHK and Discovery, among others. Credits include TVO Originals Political Blind Date and Margin of Error, feature documentary Cracked Not Broken for HBO, Black Nation for SVT, Pure Intentions for CBC documentary and docuseries Intervention Canada (77x1) for A&E and Blue Ant Media, among others. Visit: OpenDoorCo.com

Media contacts: 
Genevieve Grant, TVO 

Steph Perron, BAE Communications 

@TVODocs on social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube  
YEARBOOK on social media: Instagram @yearbook_series, TikTok @yearbookseries


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