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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.