This feature documentary is a biography of Dr. Norman Bethune, the Canadian doctor who served with the loyalists during the Spanish Civil War and with the North Chinese Army during the Sino-Japanese War. In Spain he pioneered the world's first mobile blood-transfusion service; in China his work behind battle lines to save the wounded has made him a legendary figure.
This was the first film where Donald started playing with recreations. He had no footage to work with, so he recreated a lot of scenes. In fact, one of the operations in the film was done on a dead pig – but it looks just like stock footage.
When the film was finished, the Americans were upset about it. Foreign Affairs picked up on their displeasure and proclaimed that the film couldn't leave Canada. So John Kemeny, the man who brought Bethune to Brittain in the first place, secretly shipped it out to Dok Leipzig, where it won first prize. The film could no longer be contained, so they had to release it.
When Trudeau decided to open the lines of communication with China, he had to figure out how. So 4 years after the government tried to block the film, they got the Canadian ambassador to Stockholm to invite the Chinese ambassador to watch it. In the end, the film they tried to bury became the pretext for getting Trudeau into China.Adam Symansky
From the playlist: Donald Brittain: Writer, filmmaker, storyteller.