All films available for free on the National Film Board website and CBC Gem
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The National Film Board (NFB) of Canada develops and shares creative productions through a diverse range of mediums. To date, the NFB continues to be a prolific avenue for Canadian multimedia which spans a myriad of subjects. Drawn from NFB’s very own subject tiers which concern advertising, media, along with means and modes of production: the films in this selection contend with inertia, consumerism, and labour relations.
In many cases, closed captioning is available for films hosted on the NFB and CBC Gem platforms. Simply click the CC symbol at the bottom of the video frame.
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(Cheldy Belkhodja, 2006)
This short documentary shows the struggle that young immigrants have in a small community unaccustomed to cultural diversity, and their frustration at not having their skills recognized by the job market and their peers. Hanging On is part of the Work For All project 2006, an NFB and HRSDC-Labour initiative to combat racism in the workplace.
Watch here: https://www.nfb.ca/film/hanging_on/
Rock The Box
(Katherine Monk, 2015)
Critic-turned-filmmaker Katherine Monk trains her lens on DJ Rhiannon Rozier in this short film about breaking the glass ceiling in a music industry dominated by men. The Vancouver-raised, university-educated Rozier was so intent on making a career in the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) scene that she did something she never thought she’d do: she posed for Playboy.
Watch here: https://www.nfb.ca/film/rock_the_box/
(Jean-Thomas Bédard, 1978)
This short animated film presents an allegorical portrait of a society where men have lost their autonomy in the struggle to be recognized by the very society that restricts their freedom. In the film, chairs are a symbol of success; without one, every man becomes a social outcast. Highly critical of power, privilege, and the weight of social norms, the film questions our present and our future. This technically and formally innovative film is accompanied by a sombre, hypnotic soundtrack and contains no dialogue.
Watch here: https://www.nfb.ca/film/chairmen/
The Structure of Unions
(Morten Parker, 1955)
This animated film examines the organization of labour unions today. While the narrator in all seriousness outlines the structure of a union and the larger bodies to which it is affiliated, the animator ad libs his own views with gay abandon. Examples are given to illustrate the functioning of a union at its various levels, from union local to national body to labour congress.
Watch here: https://www.nfb.ca/film/structure-of-unions/
This Is a Recorded Message
(Jean-Thomas Bédard, 1973)
This experimental animated short takes a critical look at consumerism in a material world. Thousands of cut-out ads are presented in increasingly fragmented, rapid succession. The film’s disorienting and hectic pace seeks to interrogate the extent to which seductive advertising is a shockingly strong force in shaping our desires, needs, and lives in contemporary capitalism.
Watch here: https://www.nfb.ca/film/this_is_a_recorded_message/
Want more films to watch? Here are Mayworks K’jipuktuk/Halifax’s recommendations:
We’re highlighting two episodes of the series Absolutely Canadian, available on CBC’s Gem Service. To access CBC’s Gem service, you need to sign up with an email address, but it’s free. Go here to set up an account: https://gem.cbc.ca/
Behind the Bhangra Boys
(Nance Akerman, 2019)
Behind the Bhangra Boys is an inspiring documentary about HRM’s own wildly popular Maritime Bhangra Group, which brings joy to many while raising funds for charity. If you want more, you can follow the Maritime Bhangra Group on FaceBook (https://www.facebook.com/maritimebhangra/) or Twitter (@maritimebhangra) or subscribe to their YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSgOJ7Wj6iTudU9PeqKURhQ).
Watch it at: https://gem.cbc.ca/media/absolutely-canadian/season-19/episode-26/38e815a-011a94dc9d5
The Beacon Project: Indigenous Knowledge & The Water Grandmother
(Ann Verrall and Dianne Whelan with Lindsay Dobbin, 2019)
The Beacon Project, a collaboration between filmmaker Dianne Whelan and Indigenous communities along the Great Trail, explores the question of what has been lost and forgotten, and what needs to be remembered. It is a companion piece to the documentary 500 Days in the Wild (Dianne Whelan, co-director Ann Verrall), which charts Whelan’s 24 000-kilometer trek.
Watch it at: https://gem.cbc.ca/media/absolutely-canadian/season-19/episode-33/38e815a-011b437e359