Today it is the city of Montreal, but 3 centuries ago the tiny band of missionary founders called it Ville-Marie, the holy city of Mary. This film goes back to its beginning and those who felt called to plant an oasis of Christianity in the North American wilderness. In an imaginative, at times almost surrealistic, way the film recalls the highborn company from France, and shows what survives of Ville-Marie in the Montreal of today.
Filmed on the great Mackenzie River, this short fiction film recreates the amazing voyage of the man who gave his name to it. Following the path outlined in Mackenzie's journal, the film depicts his arduous journey by canoe all the way to the salt water of the Arctic Ocean - one of the great epics of northern exploration.
Two well-known Quebec artists (filmmaker Jacques Godbout and playwright René-Daniel Dubois) look at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. Whose version of this historic event should prevail? Is history best served by documentary or fiction? We also meet Baron Georges Savarin de Marestan and Andrew Wolfe-Burroughs, direct descendants of Montcalm and Wolfe, both of whom died in the battle that would give birth to Canada and to the province of Quebec. In French with English subtitles.
This film tells the story of the Red River settlement, now the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The pioneer venture of Thomas Douglas, Earl of Selkirk, to establish a colony brought opposition from the North West Company, the Hudson's Bay Company’s powerful rival. A fine cast of actors portrays the ensuing dispute.
In this short film, a collection of images create a colourful collage depicting the construction and opening of Montreal's Victoria Bridge. Considered an engineering marvel at the time, it was the first bridge to span the St. Lawrence River, connecting Montreal to the South Shore by rail.
The story of the Jesuit martyrs who lived with the Wendat converts in the region near what is now Midland, Ontario. The film is of wide interest since it reconstructs a period of Canadian history, especially of Indigenous life, at the very beginning of European settlement. The village and the Jesuits' buildings are exact models from archeologists' reconstructions. The story is based on the Jesuit Relations, the actual journals of mission life that still make for thrilling reading.
(Please note that Mission of Fear was produced in 1965 and reflects the attitudes and thinking of its era. To modern audiences, parts of the film may be perceived as offensive, but it must be seen as a cultural product of the era in which it was produced. The perspectives of Canadians (and the NFB) have evolved and become more conscious of Indigenous rights, realities and points of view since the making of the film. Through its rich collection of Indigenous-made films, available at Indigenous Cinema, the NFB continues to strive to challenge stereotypes about Indigenous people and accurately depict the diverse experiences of Indigenous communities. )
Part of the Daughters of the Country series, this dramatic film features a young Ojibwa girl from 1770 who marries a Scottish fur trader and leaves home for the shores of Georgian Bay. Although the union is beneficial for her tribe, it results in hardship and isolation for Ikwe. Values and customs clash until, finally, the events of a dream Ikwe once had unfold with tragic clarity.
For Alexander Galt it was the middle of the road, until he saw some hope for his dream of a united Canada. What was he like, this stubborn idealist? How did he measure up to other political strongmen of his time? In this film you sense the personal clashes and the interplay of political ambitions that left their mark on history.
This short film introduces us to the "automatistes," followers of an abstract art form that developed in Montreal. The movement, initiated by Paul-Émile Borduas, is explained by the artists themselves when narrator Bruce Ruddick drops in at their cooperative studio. The film also captures painter Paterson Ewen at his home and joins the crowd at L'Échouerie, the artists' rendezvous spot. Dr. Robert Hubbard, chief curator of the National Gallery of Canada, comments on non-objective art in general and automatism in particular.