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CMNS 210 Chapter Notes -Social Hygiene Movement, Educational Film, Liberal Democracy

Course Code
CMNS 210
Stuart Poyntz

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The National Film Board and Government (Druick, 2007)
National Film Board of Canada: state-sponsored film making institution
specializing in short non-theatrical documentary films
Free trade in commercial cinema is main priority in today’s global film industry
NFB is anachronism, remnant of socialist alternative to capital-intensive
rationalized systems of global Hollywood, Bollywood & Nollywood
NFB has faced many crises since its inception
Role: opposing government (Conservative Party) & private sector
Biggest advocates: social reformers aiming to use the medium of film as a
communications technology for consolidating middle-ground opinion in & about
NFB emerged out of British documentary movement orgnanized to appropriate
realism’s more radical potential & apply form to liberal nation-building project
Documentary embodies same contradictions as welfare stat alongside which it
Elements developed as response to foundationally radical socialist challenge
posed by capitalist societies
Documentary film and welfare state administration relied on instrumentally
predictive mode of social control that ultimately undermined their seemingly
radical trappings
History of the National Film Board
Established by passage of National Film Act in 1939 (months before WWII):
described makeup of NFB and vague mandate: production of films that ‘help
Canadians in all parts of Canada to understand the ways of living and problems of
Canadians in other parts’
During WWII: NFB grew exponentially, took over government information &
propaganda filmmaking from Canadian Government Motion Picture Bureau
Travelling film circuits in rural Canada, factories, trade union halls to expand non-
theatrical audience
1945: film commissioner involved in first spy scandal of Cold War, private film
industry: NFB has unfair advantage in securing government contracts, business
press and Conservative party: NFB has politically dubious connections to
communism -> severe budget cuts
1940s/1950s: granted reprieve in form of Colwd War national cultural policy inn
Massey Commission
1950s: NFB remakes itself as educational film provider, technological and stylistic
1960s: new technologies (IMAX, portable video), community media process
1970s: Studio D (women’s studio)
1980s/1990s: focus on supporting emerging filmmakers from minority and First
Nations communities
today: massive website, funding documentary and educational films
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