A founding partner of Rhombus Media, Barbara Willis- Sweete has produced and directed more than 30 films with Rhombus since the company’s inception in 1979. In addition, she has directed no less than 25 films for producers outside of her own company.
Barbara's films have been screened at major film festivals around the world and have received top awards in Toronto, Montreal, Banff, New York, Chicago, Columbus, Houston, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Paris. Her films have earned dozens of Gemini Awards, three Genie nominations and one Genie win for PERFECT PIE, three International Emmys for CONCERTO!, PICTURES ON THE EDGE and YO-YO MA: INSPIRED BY BACH, as well as three Grammy nominations for DON GIOVANNI UNMASKED, PICTURES ON THE EDGE and THE PLANETS. THE YOUNG ROMANTIC: A PORTRAIT OF YUNDI LI, garnered four Geminis in 2009, including Best Director and Best Performing Arts Program. Barbara has adapted and directed a number of Canadian plays to film including ELIZABETH REX, which won 4 Gemini Awards, and BILLY BISHOP GOES TO WAR, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011 and was released in the cinemas in 2012.
Recently, Barbara has directed several short films for the National Film Board and for Bravo!fact, and has also been mentoring emerging filmmakers in both documentary and fiction.
Currently, she is in production on a feature-length documentary about the rebirth of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, which will be shot over the next year and released in the spring 2014.
Over the past five years, in addition to her film and television projects, Barbara has directed twenty-five live HD Transmissions for the Metropolitan Opera of New York, including Otello, Les Troyens, Parsifal, Lucia di Lammermoor, Hansel & Gretel, Tristan und Isolde, Salome, Orfeo ed Euridice, Der Rosenkavalier, Il Trovatore, Don Giovanni, Satyagraha, and Faust. These operas are broadcast live to 1900 cinemas in 60 countries around the world.
Born in British Columbia, Barbara has an ARCT (Piano Performance) from the Royal Conservatory of Music, a BA (Honours, Music) from the University of Western Ontario, and a Doctorate of Letters (honoris causa) from York University. She was honoured on the UWO Faculty of Music's inaugural "Wall of Fame." Recently, Barbara was presented with the Honorary Director Award at the Female Eye Film Festival in Toronto.