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CMNS 210 (3)

W9 Druick Reading Notes.docx

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Simon Fraser University
CMNS 210
Stuart Poyntz

The National Film Board and Government (Druick, 2007) 259  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 Canada  NFB emerged out of British documentary movement orgnanized to appropriate 260 realism’s more radical potential & apply form to liberal nation-building project  Documentary embodies same contradictions as welfare stat alongside which it developed  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 innovation  1960s: new technologies (IMAX, portable video), community media process videos  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 Approaching the National Film Board from a New Perspective  NFB as case study of use of visual media and documentary film for liberal government  Liberalism: politicial philosophy, support for minimizing government, emphasizing individual freedom and ability to act reasonably, dominant political philosophy of inter-war years  Foucault: freedom is precondition for operation of governmental reason (forms of discipline we impose on ourselves and that define proper behaviour in social institutions) 262  Documentary film reflected technologies of liberal democracy that it was developed to support  Bound up with projects of mass and adult education  Embodied social scientific techniques (e.g. interview, representative sample) -> development of new techniques of governance (e.g. opinion poll)  Government realism: this style of filmmaking and technology for knowing and regulating population  Foucault: modernity the process of increasing governmentalization of the state  Since 1940s federal state adopted more responsibility for social shifts and NFB found ways to represent them on film  Priority in NFB’s first 25 years: represent process of urbanization, industrialization, establishment of welfare state  Anthropological films were made to produce record of practices that would inevitably disappear in the wake of modern life  From mid-1960s: represent variety of resistance movements that questioned metanarratives of progress promised by modernization  NFB is site for reading narrative of ideal citizenship, strategies of government in Canadian welfare state: depict average typica
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