This film interview affords a glimpse of a bold and learned mind illuminating important social issues. Responding to questions on the related topics of language, democracy, and the role of the modern university, acclaimed literary critic Northrop Frye explains why education is crucial: "A democracy cannot function without articulate citizens." Frye claims that the university is a place where individual liberty becomes possible, as students learn to question beliefs imposed by society. For Frye, reading and writing are "instruments of freedom."
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.
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.
A portrait of and tribute to the author who, with the publication of Barometer Rising in 1941, set a precedent in Canadian literature by writing about Canadian topics and places and, in so doing, paved the way for a thriving national literary movement. Through the use of still photographs, archival footage and interviews, this documentary traces seven decades of MacLennan's public and private life--as a young boy in Nova Scotia, brought up in a strict Presbyterian family of Scottish descent, as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, as a professor at McGill University, and as the author of seven novels and numerous essays. Also featured in the film are several readings from MacLennan's work.
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 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.
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.
In this feature documentary, husband-and-wife team Karsten Heuer and Leanne Allison (Being Caribou), along with their 2-year-old son and dog, retrace the literary footsteps of Canadian writer Farley Mowat. They canoe east from Calgary towards the Prairies (the geography of Farley's Born Naked and Owls in the Family) and then traverse the same paths that Mowat took more than 60 years earlier in Never Cry Wolf and People of the Deer. Their epic 5,000 km journey—trekking, sailing, portaging and paddling—ends in the Maritimes, at Mowat's Nova Scotia summer home.
One of Canada's most exciting new literary talents, West Coast author Jack Hodgins talks about his world and his work. Using passages from his short stories and novels, the film enters the world of logging camps and saloons, of people and events on Vancouver Island. At times serious, sometimes hilarious, other times introspective, it is a reflection of a storyteller who writes about what goes on around him.
This feature documentary turns the lens on Canadian playwright and novelist W.O. Mitchell. Throughout the film we see him in his many different roles – writer, teacher, family man, entertainer – as he talks candidly about himself, his work and the effect the Prairies have had on him, both personally and professionally.
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 short documentary introduces us to Alden Nowlan, winner of Canada’s 1967 Governor General’s Award for poetry. His empathy for ordinary people was evident in his work as a poet, journalist, short-story writer, novelist and playwright. Nowlan’s writing is admired far beyond his native Maritimes, but he never forgot his roots, which he drew on for inspiration. This film, shot just before his death in 1983, records him reminiscing and reading from his work.