Show Girls celebrates Montreal's swinging Black jazz scene from the 1920s to the 1960s, when the city was wide open. Three women who danced in the legendary Black clubs of the day - Rockhead's Paradise, The Terminal, Café St. Michel - share their unforgettable memories of life at the centre of one of the world's hottest jazz spots. From the Roaring Twenties, through the Second World War and on into the golden era of clubs in the fifties and sixities, Show Girls chronicles the lives of Bernice, Tina and Olga - mixing their memories with rarely seen footage of the era. Their stories are told against a backdrop of the fascinating social and political history that made Montreal a jazz and nightclub hotspot for decades. It is a story of song and dance, music and pride.
Brilliantly mixing animated sequences and archival footage, Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre paints a touching portrait of virtuoso pianist Oscar Peterson. As with her previous films (McLaren’s Negative and Jutra), Saint-Pierre pursues her bold and personal approach with this animated documentary of Oscar Peterson at the twilight of an exceptional career, as he wistfully meditates on the price of fame and the impacts of the artist’s life on family life. From the young prodigy’s beginnings in Little Burgundy to his triumphs on the international stage alongside the biggest stars of his time, Oscar explores the profound solitude of an artist constantly on tour, and the difficulty in reconciling his professional success with his role as husband and father. Set to the tunes of Peterson’s sometimes catchy, sometimes melancholy-tinged compositions, the film alternates between animated sequences and footage of radio and video interviews to tell a heartfelt story about a life in jazz.
This short documentary profiles Quebec-born singing sisters Kate and Anna McGarrigle. The sisters enjoy international acclaim—although outside of the mainstream—for their inimitable style, their talent as songwriters, and especially their unassuming, informal personalities. With camera and sketchbook in hand, artist and filmmaker Caroline Leaf captures the sisters’ endearing qualities. The result is an easygoing, sometimes whimsical portrait of the famous sisters on and off stage. Highlights include excerpts from the sisters’ Carnegie Hall performance and a look at their songwriting and recording processes.
This short film pays tribute to ballet dancer Anik Bissonnette as she takes the reins of the École supérieure de ballet du Québec. Having dazzled audiences for decades with her astounding talent, she now teaches the rigorous fundamentals and secrets of movement that underlie her art. Bissonnette's grace is reflected through the mirror of time. As we watch the steps and movements of the young dancers she has inspired, we realize that we are witnessing the most beautiful of dances—the transmission of knowledge.
This film was produced by the NFB in co-operation with the National Arts Centre and the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Foundation on the occasion of the 2014 Governor General's Performing Arts Awards.
Shot in 1987 at the Montréal International Jazz Festival, this documentary film presents musical performances and conversations between three jazz pianists with remarkably different styles--Soviet Leonid Chizhik, Black Montrealer Oliver Jones, and French-Canadian Jean Beaudet. It introduces viewers to the diversity of interpretation within today's jazz world, explores the roots of modern jazz and the specific formative influences on the musicians profiled, and reaches for a definition of twentieth-century jazz.
In this short film, Margie Gillis becomes the very embodiment of modern dance - she steps into the light, lifts her arms and unleashes her extraordinary mane into the air.
Four decades into a remarkable career, Gillis is a beacon of compassion and creativity. Watch as high-speed cameras capture the delicate and savage joy of Canada's own Isadora Duncan.
Produced by the National Film Board of Canada in co-operation with the National Arts Centre and the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Foundation on the occasion of the 2011 Governor General's Performing Arts Awards.
This documentary features Black women active in politics as well as community, labour and feminist organizing. They share their insights and personal testimonies on the double legacy of racism and sexism, linking their personal struggles with the ongoing battle to end systemic discrimination and violence against women and people of colour.
Built around an intimate interview with the acclaimed Canadian dancer and choreographer, Peggy Baker Four Phrases is an artful animation and documentary hybrid that travels through a variety of techniques to celebrate Baker's work and legacy. This film was produced for the 2009 Governor General's Performing Arts Award.
In their predominantly white high school in Halifax, a group of black students face daily reminders of racism, ranging from abuse (racist graffiti on washroom walls), to exclusion (the omission of black history from textbooks). They work to establish a Cultural Awareness Youth Group, a vehicle for building pride and self-esteem through educational and cultural programs. With help from mentors, they discover the richness of their heritage and learn some of the ways they can begin to effect change.
This 1959 feature documentary is a foray into Canada’s art milieu. What is it like to be a Canadian artist? Answering this central question are Teresa Stratas, winner of Metropolitan Opera auditions; acclaimed lyric tenor Léopold Simoneau and his talented wife, soprano Pierrette Alarie; the National Ballet Company of Canada’s artistic director, Celia Franca and leading male dancer, David Adams; as well as jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, whom we visit at 3 o'clock in the morning at Boston's Storyville Club. The film also includes interviews with radio and television actor John Drainie, Christopher Plummer and Jean Gascon, director of Montreal's Théâtre du Nouveau Monde.
This short documentary follows several refugee families during their first 19 days in Canada, as they navigate an unfamiliar terrain that has suddenly become their home. Located in the quiet Calgary neighbourhood of Bridgeland, the Margaret Chisholm Resettlement Centre is the starting point for government-assisted refugees who arrive in the city. During the 19-day timeline established by the federal government, an initial assessment is done and refugees are assisted with everything from airport reception and orientation to referrals, documents, and counselling.
19 Days reveals the human side of the refugee resettlement process. A unique look at the global migration crisis and one particular stage of asylum, it lays plain the realities faced on the difficult road towards integration.
This short documentary profiles the mid-century Toronto jazz scene through the eyes of acclaimed filmmaker Don Owen (Nobody Waved Good-bye). The film features prominent acts from what was then regarded as the third-largest jazz centre in North America, including the Lenny Breau trio, the Don Thompson Quintet and the Alf Jones Quartet. Jazz lovers will relish this inside look at the creativity, hard work, improvisation, and stylization of these talented musicians.