In Margaret Atwood: Once in August, filmmaker Michael Rubbo attempts to discover what shapes the celebrated writer's fiction and what motivates her characters. As one of Canada's most distinguished poets and novelists, Atwood is also one of this country's most elusive literary figures.
This informal black-and-white portrait of Leonard Cohen shows him at age 30 on a visit to his hometown of Montreal, where the poet, novelist and songwriter comes "to renew his neurotic affiliations." He reads his poetry to an enthusiastic crowd, strolls the streets of the city, relaxes in this three-dollar-a-night hotel room and even takes a bath.
Farley Mowat has sold more books than any other Canadian writer – 10 million copies in 22 languages in 50 countries. In this short film, Mowat recalls some of his experiences that have found their way into his work.
This feature documentary is a portrait of the life and work of Canadian poet Irving Layton. Here, the artist who long masked himself in controversy, unexpectedly agrees to be unmasked in front of the camera. The 1981 Nobel nominee not only reads and explicates his own writings, but also speaks incisively about Canadian literature itself, defining it metaphorically as a "double hook" that combines "beauty and terror."
For more background info on this film, visit the NFB.ca blog.
This short film encapsulates the life of P.K. Page, a Canadian woman who has reached international stature as both a painter and a poet. Through an exploration of her life and art, the film shows how her powerful works have extended beyond their inherent confines into the realms of anthropology and ecology.
This feature-length Oscar®-nominated documentary focuses on Malcolm Lowry, author of one of the major novels of the 20th century, Under the Volcano. But while Lowry fought a winning battle with words, he lost his battle with alcohol. Shot on location in four countries, the film combines photographs, readings by Richard Burton from the novel and interviews with the people who loved and hated Lowry, to create a vivid portrait of the man.
This feature documentary profiles poet Milton Acorn, who left his home in Prince Edward Island in the late 1940s to earn his living as an itinerant carpenter, and wound up in Toronto as one of Canada's most highly regarded poets and one of its most outrageous literary figures. Dubbed "The People's Poet" by fellow poets, he won the Governor General's Literary Award in 1975. Burned out by personal crises, Acorn moved back to Charlottetown in 1981. This film, directed by a P.E.I. filmmaker, brings out Acorn's wit, love of nature, unorthodox political views, and sometimes infuriating personal contradictions.
This feature documentary is a portrait of one of Canada's most celebrated authors, Margaret Laurence. Born in a small Prairie town in Manitoba, Laurence remained haunted by the images of this small Presbyterian home town. This film traces her life from the early days and introduces us to her characters, whom we meet through readings from her work by Canadian actress Jayne Eastwood. The film blends fact with fiction to give its audience a strong impression of who this very private person really was.
This feature film is a different portrait of Ottawa, as transfigured by the loving but provocative gaze of well-known Francophone writer Daniel Poliquin. In his novels, the national capital metamorphoses, like the dreaded rat that supposedly changed into the city's ubiquitous black squirrel in a bid to win our affection. Alternating reality and fiction, the film reveals another Ottawa through the dreams and desires of his novels' characters - all portrayed by Poliquin himself.
This feature documentary looks at the multi-faceted career of F.R. Scott (1899-1985), a Canadian poet, thinker and constitutional expert whose work and vision of social justice spanned and influenced an entire era. The film looks at Scott's role in the founding of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation Party in the 1930s, his years as a teacher of constitutional law, as a modernist poet, and as a champion of civil liberties. Highlights include Scott's courtroom challenges of the Duplessis regime in the 1950s, his controversial support of the War Measures Act during the 1970 October Crisis in Québec, and readings from his poetry.
The nation, the country, where do we belong in it? In this film through conversation and poetry two poets meet for the telling and the listening. Adrienne Rich is a distinguished American feminist poet, and author of numerous books of prose, poetry, essays and speeches. Dionne Brand is a Trinidadian-Canadian femininst poet, writer and filmmaker. Incisive and inquisitive, the two women meet to discuss the world as they each see it. Claiming any subject, they talk about events as they see them, analytic, contemplative, honest and open ended. Topics include political issues, feminism, racism and lesbianism, among others. The viewer is invited into the exchange by the familiar images of two women talking intimately around a kitchen table, in corridors, or casually outdoors in the United States, Tobago and Canada. Shot in black and white and in colour, the conversation takes us over the territories of their poetry.
In this short documentary, Canadian poet Andrew Suknaski introduces us to Wood Mountain, the south central Saskatchewan village he calls home. In between musings on his poetry, which is tinged with nostalgia and the vast loneliness of the plains, the poet discusses the area’s multicultural background and Native heritage, as well as the customs and stories of these various ethnic groups.