Christopher Bessette Top Stories



Christopher Bessette is a multi-award winning writer-director, member of the Director’s Guild of America and the Writer’s Guild of America.  Bessette has received numerous awards at various festivals worldwide, including two “Best Director” awards.  One was received at the 2008 Arpa International Film Festival in Hollywood, for his feature film “The Enemy God”  The other was received  at the 32nd Annual Festival of Film Breckenridge, for his feature film "Trade of Innocents"

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2018 CIFF Award Winner

Friday, 28 September 2018 01:12 Published in Top Stories


Niagara College prof, grad Christopher M. Bessette wins Best Director award

2012 film Trade of Innocents makes a comeback at 2018 CIFF


Niagara-based writer/director Christopher Bessette doesn’t only reach for the stars, he shines among them. The Niagara College Broadcasting graduate and current part-time faculty member was among the star-studded nominees and winners at the second annual Canadian International Faith and Family Film Festival (CIFF) held September 14-16 in Toronto – including Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, Dennis Quaid, and Mira Sorvino. Bessette attended CIFF with multiple award nominations for his 2012 film Trade of Innocents, and walked away with the Best Director award, while cast member Sorvino also won Best Lead Actress for her role in the film.


Trade of Innocents — which raises awareness of child exploitation through human trafficking – was selected one of the featured films at CIFF and Bessette was invited to participate in a film festival panel alongside Oscar winner Roger Christian (Star Wars) and other industry experts. CIFF festival co-founders and co-directors Jason Barbeck and Rafael Kalamat noted that Bessette was a great asset to CIFF 2018 and that Trade of Innocents was very well received and is creating a lot of awareness. The film’s presence at the festival, they noted, attracted the attention of two foundations dedicated to the cause – Ratanak and Mighty Oaks.


“Rafael Kalamat and myself felt very strongly that this film was important to our festival and needed to shed light on the subject matter,” said Barbeck.  “Christopher's insight and presence inspired filmmakers and gave his film a new life. As a result, he has made waves from Toronto all the way to Hollywood with social media.” In addition to Bessette’s and Sorvino’s nominations, Trade of Innocents was nominated for Best Picture (which was won by Lions Gate/Mission Pictures feature I Can Only Imagine), and cast member Trieu Tran was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role (that award was won by Liotta for The Identical). “This is remarkable and unprecedented,” said Bessette. “Our film had never really seen a release and when I was first contacted by the festival directors that it fit under their Revival qualifications and they suggested I should submit it – suddenly we are nominated, with some very recent big, high-grossing films.”


Bessette said he is grateful for the profile the recent awards have brought to Trade of Innocents, which he wrote and directed. “So many people put in such hard work into this film with passion because the topic deals with human trafficking and the child sex trade that it is too important to go unseen,” he said. In addition to raising awareness about human trafficking, the film itself became an instrument for saving lives. At one of its only public screenings in Canada, it raised $43,000 in one night to rescue girls from the human traffic trade.


Since he graduated from Niagara College in 1984, the long-time Thorold resident has built a career as a multiple-award-winning filmmaker, motion picture writer/director/producer. His international career in the television and film industry has led him across Canada, the U.S., and Europe, as well as to Central America, Russia, and Southeast Asia. In addition to Trade of Innocents (2012), his feature films include and The Enemy God (2008) which he directed, that spans 50 years of an Amazonian tribe. He wrote directed and produced the documentary Niagara: Thunder of the Waters (2016). His novel The Mythamohre was published in 2013. Bessette has won two previous Best Director awards and 10 Best Picture Awards and his work has been seen on screens around the world. In 2012, he was nominated by Niagara College for a Premier’s Award in Creative Arts and Design.


Since 2013, he has been passing on his valuable skills and experience to the next generation of film and television industry professionals at Niagara College as a part-time faculty member. He currently teaches two courses: Dramatic Scriptwriting, and Directing for the Screen. Bessette often tells his students, “Hey, I am just a local guy that went to film school at NC. I had no idea that I would travel in this career throughout Europe into Russia, the deep forbidden zones of the Amazon jungle and into South East Asia.”


“I wrote and directed a movie working with an Academy-Award-winning actress and worked in Hollywood,” he said. “I had no idea any of that would happen when I look back at my 20-year-old self at film school. I was just following my passion.”


For info visit his website at For information about the Canadian International Faith and Family Film Festival (CIFF) visit  Niagara College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree, and advanced level programs as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, horticulture, and esthetics. For more information visit

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To rescue his family, a retired MotoGP champion must prepare his son to compete in the most dangerous motorcycle race in the world.



A pack of road racing motorcycles leans to the limit on a sharp corner. Their leather-clad rider’s knees scrape the ground at 200 miles per hour into the first turn of our story.


Former MotoGP champ Ricky McIvery finds himself alone; fame, fortune, and the pursuit of pleasure destroy his marriage, and relationship opportunity with his infant son. His wife escapes vowing to never be found again.


20 years later: barely scraping by in the motorcycle repair business, McIvery has a surprise customer roll into his shop. His son. Not disclosing his relationship to the young rider, McIvery befriends him finding out he is involved in a gang of illegal street-racing thrill seeking motorcyclists.


More turns unfold as McIvery uncovers his ex-wife trapped in an abusive marriage. His son at the edge of death every night because of racing escapades and his true love unable to exist outside of the clutches of her powerful husband's grasp. Salvaging his relationships and attaining freedom for the ones he loves means more than any championship ever did.


The illegal street-racing goes legitimate when completion moves to ManxGP. It’s a dream realized by McIvery's son and a rival gang member. Fate brought them together and McIvery won’t let fate tear them apart; he follows them to the ManxGP in Ireland on the Isle of Man.


It’s a “Top-Gun-on-Two-Wheels” man and machine, 200 mile-per-hour battle for the real prize: forgiveness and redemption. McIvery finds himself in the race of his life... pushing it beyond the edge of velocity into the Redline Burn zone.

PROPHETS & KINGS - 30 episode dramatic TV series

Wednesday, 08 August 2018 18:17 Published in Top Stories

A vision of the future compels one man to expose deceit,
sexual scandal, and murder among the ruling elite.

Prophets & Kings is an edgy internet streaming platform, one-hour drama. The setting is 877 B.C. where kingdoms rise and fall by epic battles with horses, chariots, swordsmen, and archers. Corrupt leaders rule the divided nation of Samaria (Israel) having forgotten their roots and pledge to the One True God who led them out of slavery to this promised land. It is here that Ahab the ruling puppet King, Jezebel his Queen a conniving, maniacal temptress and the prophet Elijah (one of the best known old testament prophets) take the stage in a time of betrayal, sexual deviance, and murder. Drawing inspiration from the biblical text of I and II Kings each episode climaxes with a major biblical event or by pointing to it in the following episode.

Like never before portrayed in the historic biblical narrative, the 30 episode character arc of Prophets & Kings is a dangerous, raw and real representation of those days that draws parallels between their world and ours, closing the gap between then and now and cementing the relevance of scripture to modern life. Inspiring audiences with the challenge God laid out before Isaiah (6:8), "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?

A Life of Muck - new screenplay by Bessette

Wednesday, 05 April 2017 21:05 Published in Blog

My wife and her sister’s invisible childhood friends, Muck and Keek, live in my new screenplay, “A Life of Muck.”
A bullied 16-year-old girl finds solace in the journal of a boy who went missing 30 years ago. When he appears to her and offers his help against her tormentors, his invisibility proves both beneficial and alluring to a girl who wishes she could just disappear too.

Movie Industry People can read my new screenplay "A Life of Muck" on The Blacklist for the next month #movie #comngofage #bullying #romance A Life of Muck #readit @theblcklst  #bullied 16-year-old girl finds solace in the journal of a boy who went #invisible 30 years ago.


Sunday, 30 August 2015 16:51 Published in Blog

A number of years ago in-between movie projects, I took a job in a Call Centre to make ends meet.  That’s the common vernacular for “survive.”

 The Call Centre Supervisor asked me, “What did you do before coming here?” I answered him truthfully but the demeaning mocking look of disbelief he gave me in his silent reply said it all. What followed were weeks of training on how to take a call, answer questions and resolve issues.

My closest friends in the Call Centre training class were all artists of some sort. One guy was a Comic Book Artist, another was an Animator, another a Tattoo Artist and another a Musician.  These guys were really talented artist all doing the same thing as me, whatever they could to survive.

While I was in the training sessions at the Call Centre, a movie I had been hired to write and direct was playing at the ARPA Film Festival in Hollywood.  Photographs of the producers at the festival were sent to me.  In those photographs was a picture of the producer receiving the “Best Director Award” on my behalf.

I took the photos to class to celebrate with my artist friends. The Comic Book Artist said, “What are you doing here?  Are you really here doing research for a movie?”  I had to confess that maybe one day this experience will serve me like that but I was here to survive and do what I needed to do.

One day, the class cleared out on break and our group of artist was left alone.  We started talking about our passions, our art. For some reason the comic book superheroes that I loved as a kid came to mind and I could see the “super” talent represented in my circle of friends.  I got everyone’s attention and said, “Peter Parker, Clark Kent did what they had to do by day but that was not who they really were, they were Spiderman and Superman. Let’s make an oath to each other, not to let this Call Centre job define who we are.  We are, Animator, Comic Book Artist, Tattoo Artist, Musician and Filmmaker… that’s who we really are. Let’s make a pact never to forget who we really are. It’ll be our Superhero Code of Honor.”  The guys agreed and for the first time since Call Centre training started we all had renewed hope.

On occasion we’d look at each other and whisper, “Superhero Code of Honor.” It got us through.

Years later, none of us are at the Call Centre. The Animator works at a prestigious animation company, the Tattoo Artist opened his own shop, the Comic Book Artist is constantly showing his work at comic book conventions and getting commissioned to do drawings, the Musician is releasing his second album and I made the feature film Trade of Innocents, starring Academy Award winning actress Mira Sorvino and Dermot Mulroney, fulfilling my passion to tell stories that make a difference. In expectation, I'm very much looking forward to making my next movie.

If you’re reading this and have a passion that burns deep within you… that passion is there for a reason.  The ultimate purpose is to serve the betterment of mankind, just ask Spiderman or Superman… that’s why they do what they do.  Art is much the same… it reaches in and touches the soul of a person.  That’s the most powerful superhero power of all.

Purposefully I have not shared my artist friends’ names in this article. However if you see me on social media wish a Happy Birthday with a 'SCOH' you might have an idea that this super talent once worked for the Daily Bugle or the Daily Planet alongside Peter Parker, Clark Kent and me.

Written by Jeff Blay, Thorold Niagara News Thursday, September 19, 2013

THOROLD - Christopher Bessette’s career in film has taken him to Hollywood and beyond, but when it comes to creating his work, there’s no place like home.

The multi-award winning writer, director and producer has worked on film locations in the Amazon and the jungles of Central America, Russia, South East Asia and throughout Europe, but most of his brainstorming is done in a small office at his humble Thorold home.

“It’s nothing super fancy,” Bessette said of his home office. “You think Hollywood director, but I’m just a regular guy from Thorold with a nine-dollar desk and that’s where I’ve been vying my craft.”

Bessette, a father of three, lives with his wife on a property near Allanburg that’s been in the family for many years. One of his ancestral grandfathers fought in the War of 1812 and lived on that very land.

“I’ve got deep, deep roots here,” he said.

That’s likely why he’s chosen to stay in Thorold despite his profession taking him to different parts of the world on a constant basis. And all the while, he’s managed to bring his work to new levels while remaining in the small town setting.

A graduate of Niagara College’s film program, Bessette has a vast film resume dating back to 1988, when he produced his first documentary series for the Alzheimer Society of Niagara.

Since then, his work has ranged from short films and independent films, to musical theatre and, most recently, feature films. But no matter the type of project or how big the budget is, he always begins his thought process at home.

Perhaps his most popular film, Trade of Innocents, which he wrote and directed, tells an inspiring story of a couple grieving the loss of their daughter who set out to rescue other young girls sold into the Cambodian sex slave trade. Filmed with a budget over $5 million and released in 2012, Trade of Innocents stars Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino and actor Dermot Mulroney.

While the film is set in Cambodia and was produced by an American company, the script was developed in Thorold. “That’s where Trade of Innocents was written – on that desk in my home in Thorold,” said Bessette. “That’s where it all comes from.”

While he maintains most of his inspiration comes from within, much of Bessette’s work clearly reflects his small town upbringing and his personal journey through the film industry.

“If you look at my work, there’s an overall theme of encouragement and perseverance, or the hero being the underdog but rising to the occasion, and in some ways, that reflects my life,” he said. “How does a guy that lives just outside of Allanburg direct a movie with Hollywood stars?

“The entertainment industry is hard enough as it is and, because of life situations when I graduated college, I stayed in the area. But by the grace of God, I’ve been able to continue doing what I’m doing.

“That’s why I try to use my gift to bring to light important things or to encourage others.” On the heels of Trade of Innocents, Bessette is now working on a new film project with a production company in Los Angeles.

He's also recently published a novel, The Mythamohre. It's a fantasy story about a civilization that existed long before anyone thought possible. The story's hero is a sole survivor of a raid that sets out on an epic journey to free the captives from a Queen that has entrapped his world in a desire for more. It’s available in E-Book form on iTunes, Smashwords and through various sources in over 51 countries.

The Mythamöhre - epic fantasy novel by Bessette

Monday, 02 December 2013 15:49 Published in Blog


List Price: $14.99
6" x 9" (15.24 x 22.86 cm
Black & White on Cream paper
280 pages
Terrapin Point Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-0968115329
ISBN-10: 0968115322
BISAC: Fiction / Fantasy / Epic

The world-renowned underwater archaeologist, Dr. Philip Elderidge addressed the press conference in New York City concerning his findings at the Island of Mangaia in the South Pacific. His discovery revealed primeval man existed on our planet in a form more sophisticated than academic beliefs previously supported. Either anthropology’s dating methods were askew or his firmly held evolutionist theories were incorrect. Through the discovered writings; the quest set in motion during ancient times disclosed a powerful evil that threatens mankind's existence today.

In that ancient time: a village mystic sends the sole survivor; a boy who becomes a man, on a quest to find the warrior capable of defeating the supernatural forces holding his world captive. The journey becomes a trial of life and death as he faces giants, gargoyles, imps and demonic creatures attempting to stop him.

The fate of many rests in the journey of one.

Will the discovery be made in time to save mankind? As the ancient world and ours parallel in... The Mythamöhre.

 Buy it now in paperback on Amazon or as an ebook on Smashwords!


"The Mythamöhre is an great book from the mind of an exceptional man. Christopher's latest movie "Trade of Innocents" marked my life. His heart for justice coupled with creativity is sheer inspiration." - Ken S.

"The Mythamöhre is a book full of description even imagery and is so difficult to put down that I finished it in 2 days. I would call it historical fiction with a twist of fantasy and a thought provoking underlying theme. I considered this book time well invested." - Jeremy B.

"The Mythamöhre is not your typical young adult fantasy adventure story, it is filled with thought provoking imagery and symbolism that adds a real depth to the story making it hard to put down. The book is filled with lots of action, adventure, and romance that will appeal to a wide variety of readers, young and old alike. well worth buying." - Steve B.


The Art of Capturing An Image

Friday, 22 November 2013 19:28 Published in Blog

Filmmakers will immediately recognize his name, Vilmos Zsigmond ASC.  Cinemagoers might not recognize his name but they will know the movies he's shot: "Close Encounters,"  "Deliverance," "McCabe & Mrs. Miller," "The Long Goodbye" and many others.  I came across this article written by Vilmos and I shared it with my cameraman friends.  If you're interested in the art of capturing an image, it is worth the read.   What follows is Vilmos' article. He titled it, “Cinematography is Changing."



"We are all cinematographers now. Using any camera we can afford – Alexa, Red, Sony, Go Pro, iPhone - we are producing now myriads of images.

 But, is this a great time for cinematography?

 This is a good question. The recent demise of Kodak is not only an economic or technical issue; it is also a cultural life “drama." The ease with which digital pictures can be produced leads to the mistaken conclusion that an image is no more than just the registration of reality. In fact, the cultural richness and experience of the previous generations of cinematographers, photographers, graphic artists and painters should be understood as part of any visual representation.

 Cinematographers are hired for their taste, and taste is cultivated through their experiences in life and knowledge and understanding of film, music, art, literature, photography -- everything that helps to define and create a unique point of view.

 When we go into pre-production on a project, we draw on all these experiences to shape a look for the film. I feel this is often neglected in pre-production, leaving the look to be achieved and refined in post. There’s nothing wrong with post manipulation, especially as it can often be more precise to adjust an image in a colorist’s suite than on set. But these powerful tools do not mean we can curb our vision until the post-production phase of a film. So much of the look is created by the close collaboration between the director, production designer and director of photography. For example, if the sets are painted the wrong color with too much saturation to begin with, you’re already fighting a losing battle when you get to color correction.

 With digital capture and even digital intermediates, it becomes very easy to think of the image in the simplest of terms: contrast, saturation and color bias. But I think too often we forget about texture and sharpness. Film has organic grain texture that simply doesn’t exist in digital cinematography. I’m not a film "purist" but I think it’s safe to say that with the advent of radical advances in digital cinema technology there has been a certain homogenization of the cinematographic image in regard to look and texture. It is common to shoot for an evenly distributed rich digital negative (protect the highlights, see into the shadows) with plenty of sharpness to endure the color correction suite and create the look in post. Everybody shoots the sensor the same way.

 Painting is a great influence on me. Whenever I can I go to museums and look at the classics, the Dutch masters, Rembrandt and Georges de la Tour. Looking at these old paintings can be inspiring. These are the basics for cameramen because we can learn lighting from them. We can study the classic paintings and try to use that technique of lighting in our photography. I have lots of picture books at home – photography books and art books. When we did McCabe and Mrs. Miller, I showed a book of Andrew Wyeth's paintings to Bob Altman and said, “What do you think of these faded, soft, pastel images?” And he liked it. Then I took the same book to the lab and explained to them that this was what we were aiming for. They understood right away why we were flashing the film. So it helps; a picture is worth ten thousand words. A picture can immediately tell you your feelings about something.

 “Kickstart Theft” is a 7-minute movie-trailer/narrative short commissioned by Band Pro Film & Digital. Frederic Goodich, ASC directed and I was cinematographer. “Kickstart Theft” was premiered at IBC and Cinec. The story is inspired by Vittorio de Sica’s neo-realist film Bicycle Thieves (1948), shot in black-and-white on an Arriflex 2C by Carlo Montuori. For “Kickstart Theft”, I used a Sony F65 for the first time, with Leica Summilux-C primes and a Canon 30-300 zoom.

 We wanted to work in available light as much as possible, and thanks to digital technology we could use exposures even at low light levels of less than a foot-candle. There were times when my lightmeter didn’t even register, and we rated the camera at 800 ISO. But the quality of camera, quality of lenses, that’s almost secondary for me. The lighting and composition are the most important things, as most cinematographers know. 

Camera technology is just a medium, and media was, is and will be changing, but an ability to create images that possess artistic and symbolic qualities continues to be the major task of the cinematographer.

 We are faced with many changes in the complex world of technology but the art of lighting, the art of camera movement, the art of color, tone and composition are the basic tools of our profession.

 How to deal with the demands of the rapidly evolving new technology and yet further the aesthetics of our filmic art?  I suggest we must re-educate and retrain ourselves creatively, to learn how to evaluate what we are doing from the technical point of view while at the same time constantly working to raise the standards of visual storytelling to ever-higher levels." 


Entertainment Tonight

Wednesday, 14 November 2012 15:27 Published in Quotes

"Powerful and important new film."

re: Trade of Innocents

Trade of Innocents on Dr. Phil

Saturday, 10 November 2012 20:16 Published in Media Collection

Excerpt: Dr. Phil interviews Mira Sorvino on "Trade of Innocents."
"Thanks Dr. Phil McGraw for your support."
Christopher Bessette

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