On May 2, 1939, the National Film Act came into force, creating the National Film Commission, whose name soon changed to the National Film Board of Canada. The new agency had a mandate "to make and distribute films across the country that were designed to help Canadians everywhere in Canada understand the problems and way of life of Canadians in other parts of the country."
Today, 12 Academy Awards and over 13,000 productions later, the National Film Board turns 75. To celebrate, the NFB released this extraordinary reel, with highlights from seven-and-a-half decades of telling Canadian stories, with each clip cutting seamlessly into the next. It's definitely worth your 63 seconds:
If that whet your appetite for more great work from the NFB, here are five reasons to love the institution, on its 75th birthday.
Unikkausivut — Sharing our Stories
For seven decades, the NFB has been documenting life in the Arctic, producing films by and about the Inuit people. There are over 100 films about the Inuit in the NFB archives, ranging from animated legends to documentaries about artists. This classic short, How to Build an Igloo, features two Inuit men constructing an igloo using only a knife and snow.
Since 1977, about 80 filmmakers have produced over 120 Canada Vignettes which aired on CBC and in movie theatres before the feature presentation. For its 75th anniversary, the board asked viewers to name their favourite NFB moment. No surprise: it was the Canada Vignette The Log Driver's Waltz, featuring that unforgettable song by the McGarrigle sisters.
The NFB has won a slew of awards for its ongoing project Highrise: The Towers in the World • The World in the Towers, which explores vertical living in suburbs around the world. The project kicked off in 2009, and includes interactive websites, documentaries, live productions and more. This video, A Short History of the Highrise, was co-produced with the New York Times:
The pioneering filmmaker Norman McLaren produced over 60 films for the NFB, which together won more than 200 awards — including an Oscar in 1952 for Neighbours, a movie that used stop-motion techniques normally associated with animation, but with live actors. Some of his most innovative films involved drawing and painting directly onto film to produce animation, as in 1949's Begone Dull Care, feauting a lively jazz score from Oscar Peterson:
The Cat Came Back
Yes, we mentioned this film earlier this week, but Cordell Barker’s classic NFB short The Cat Came Back is just too fun not to include. It was nominated for an Oscar in 1988, and tells the story of Old Mr. Johnson, who just can't seem to get rid of a little yellow cat.
Roch Carrier's classic children's book The Hockey Sweater tells the story of a young Montreal Canadiens fan who was — horror of horrors — mistakenly sent a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey jersey from Eaton's. The 1980 NFB adaptation, by Sheldon Carter, is also a classic, and features narration from Carrier.
For more on the NFB, check out this NFB blog post about celebrities who've appeared in the agency's films over the years, and this Toronto Star article about producer Gerry Flahive, who's leaving the NFB on Friday after a 33-year career.