Ric Esther Bienstock


Selected Awards

  • Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism, 2007
  • Edward R. Murrow Award, 2007
  • British Broadcast Award, Best Documentary Programme, 2006
  • The Royal Television Society Award, U.K., 2006
  • Nominated for a BAFTA, U.K., 2006
  • Overseas Press Club of America Award, 2004
  • The Dupont-Columbia Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism
  • 2 Gemini Awards
  • Genie Award for Best Documentary
  • 2 Gold Hugos from the Chicago Film Festival
  • Distinguished Documentary Achievement Award from the IDA. Los Angeles
  • 2 HOT DOCS Awards
  • Grand Prix, Nyon International Film Festival, Switzerland

With an unparalleled career exploring controversial issues, producer/director Ric Esther Bienstock is one of Canada’s finest documentary filmmakers. Bienstock has garnered numerous awards since beginning her career in 1986. She most recently won the U.S. Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for her film Sex Slaves. Sex Slaves (also released as The Real Sex Traffic) investigates the trafficking of women from the former Soviet bloc into the global sex slave trade.   Written, directed and produced by Bienstock, this is the first film to take viewers inside the world of trafficking to meet victims, their families and traffickers, who talk candidly about their experiences of how the sex slave trade operates.  The film aired on PBS to record ratings and screened at the U.N. Documentary Film Festival in New York where it won Best of the Festival. It has screened at over 20 international film festivals including the IDFA in Amsterdam. The U.S. Department of State has acquired rights to Sex Slaves to screen at U.S. Embassies worldwide as an educational tool and Bienstock has been invited to speak at many anti-trafficking conferences and Universities internationally including Columbia University in New York.

No stranger to infiltrating secretive or dangerous communities, Bienstock’s last production was Impact of Terror(CBC, CNN), an award winning documentary about the ripple effects of a suicide bombing in Israel. Bienstock also produced the Genie Award winning documentary, Deadly Currents, which explored all sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Deadly Currents premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was released theatrically across North America. 

Ebola: Inside an Outbreak (released internationally as Plague Fighters) for PBS’ NOVA, Channel 4 and the CBC took Bienstock and her crew behind the quarantine lines of the 1995 Ebola outbreak in Zaire. The only film team granted full access to the restricted areas, she remained at the epicenter of the outbreak throughout its lifecycle in order to capture the inside story of the epidemic as it unfolded. Directed and produced by Bienstock, Ebola: Inside an Outbreakhas received numerous international awards including a Gemini Award and the Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia University Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. Bienstock also served as location director for the widely acclaimed Plague Monkeys, which won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism.

The depth of Bienstock’s experience and interest in a wide variety of topics is expressed through the range of documentary subjects she has chosen. Her credits include series producer, director and writer of a three part documentary special on the roots of magic with Las Vegas magicians Penn & Teller.  Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour (CBC, Channel 4, The Learning Channel) takes maverick masters of illusion Penn & Teller on the road to the back streets of China, Egypt and India on a wild, funny and unpredictable odyssey in search of extraordinary practitioners of magic. 

Bienstock produced and directed a feature-length prime-time television special on the business of boxing entitled Boxing: In and Out of the Ring (A&E, SKY-TV (U.K.), TV Ontario).  She wrote and directed The Money Shot, one hour of a six part documentary series called The Sexual Century (History Television, CBC, ITV).   The Money Shot is a revealing behind-the-scenes look at the hard-core pornography industry and how that industry is penetrating mainstream culture. She also served as supervising producer on the feature length documentary The Struma (History Television, HBO, Channel 4) as well as A Child’s Choice/A Time to Live(Live, Channel 4 and Discovery U.S.).

In 1995, Bienstock produced and directed Ms. Conceptions, a documentary about single mothers by choice. It aired on CBC's Witness series to record ratings, screened at New York's Museum of Modern Art as part of its film series and has been invited to film festivals around the world. Ms. Conceptions was honored with the 1996 Gemini Award for Best Documentary and a Distinguished Documentary Achievement Award from the IDA in Los Angeles.

She has always had an interest in Africa, which resulted in Meeting the Challenge for CBC’s Man Alive program, AIDS in Africa(WNET/PBS), which investigate the AIDS crisis and Burden on the Land (Global TV, The Discovery Channel) which focused on the international development efforts in nine African countries.

Bienstock’s topics always explore the human spirit through first hand accounts. An uncompromising dedication to showing the true face of human drama will continue to take her around the world and into the inner heart of the human condition.