From August 24-26, 2010, the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers (CSIF) will run a themed program called Canadian Diaries. This exhibition features two short film programs built around the final night: a showcase of the seminal NFB documentary Pour la Suite du Monde by Pierre Perrault and Michel Brault. In honour of all the other works that could just not be fit into a 3-day program, we present here this playlist of NFB documentaries.
This collection demonstrates the Canadian obsession with identity. It represents diverse voices and stories that have found a medium in which to be heard. We are known as the cultural mosaic for a reason, and these films beautifully showcase the desire to define Canadian Culture, while acknowledging that many of our roots come from elsewhere. Our constant search for our unique identity is perhaps our strongest Canadian trait, and that, along with many years of support from the NFB, has helped Canada establish an international reputation for strong documentary filmmaking traditions.
As a seminal example of the Canadian Cinema Direct movement, Pour la Suite du Monde was the perfect film to build our program around. Our other works are both contemporary and historical short films that express Canadian identity in terms of content, interests and style. Since none of our program is available online, this playlist gathers other Cinema Direct works, like The Children of Fogo Island by Colin Low, with other contemporary films that push the boundaries of the documentary genre. Many of the films in the Canadian Diaries program deal with childhood, memory, and generational ties, just as Low's film captures childhood perspectives and ties their identity to a mystical combination of home and history. In this way The Children of Fogo Island parallels what Perrault and Brault do with the residents of Ile-aux-Coudres in Pour la Suite du Monde.
From there we delve into the roots of Canadian documentary with a series of films from 1952. These films are in a traditional documentary-style, which stands in stark contract with the Cinema Direct films. We continue to see the changes in style and technique as the playlist travels though contemporary films like Glimpses/Impressions by Jean-Francois Pouliot, The Real Place by Cam Christiansen and Night Mayor by Guy Maddin. These films question the very nature of documentary and ask the same question as the Cinema Direct movement. “What is truth?”
Or perhaps more appropriately: “What is your truth?”