Films for Change

Films for Change

Films for Change is a bilingual NFB program designed to integrate documentary films on the environment into secondary level education.

Films for Change Pedagogical Template

A comprehensive Teacher's Guide is available to help students develop media literacy and environmental skills as well as to create an opportunity for students to implement environmental action projects in the classroom. The Films for Change Teacher's Guide has quick links to curricula in provinces and territories across Canada and provides teachers with options for assessment strategies.
The Films for Change II Teacher's Guide explores the risks of monoculture—growing a single crop on the same land, year in, year out—and the benefits of sustainable and organic farming.

Free online NFB Resources for Teachers

The Footprints Web site is a free online NFB resource for teachers that addresses the environment and how we live. Discover part of the National Film Board of Canada's collection that documents the relationship between environmental questions and the social and cultural lives of Canadians.

Waterlife is another free NFB Web site available to teachers. Waterlife is an interactive journey through the last great supply of fresh water on earth. Visit this Web site with your students to tour the Great Lakes and learn about the issues affecting the waters from Lake Superior to the Atlantic Ocean.

The Films for Change program was developed in partnership with LEARN QUEBEC and the McGill University Centre for Educational Leadership. Its aim is to create awareness of global environmental issues and provide opportunities to take action on environmentally themed projects in the classroom. In the process, students will develop media and environmental literacy skills.

Films for Change is a Featured Program on the Canadian school portal for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. These programs foster the development of sports, culture and sustainability for future generations.

  • An Ecology of Hope
    2001|1 h 24 min

    A documentary portrait of ecologist Pierre Dansereau, the film takes us from Baffin Island to New York City, from the Gaspé Peninsula to Brazil. At each stop on this world tour, we hear his story and witness landscapes of breathtaking beauty.

  • St. Lawrence: Stairway to the Sea

    In this spectacular feature-length documentary, oceanographer Jacques Cousteau and an NFB crew sail up the St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes on board the specially equipped vessel, the Calypso. They explore the countryside from their helicopter and plumb the depths of the waters in their diving saucer. They encounter shipwrecks, the Manicouagan power dam, Niagara Falls, the locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway and an underwater chase with caribou.

  • Cries from the Deep
    1981|1 h 36 min

    This documentary records the journey undertaken by Jacques Cousteau, his 24-member team, and an NFB film crew to explore the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, one of the world's richest fishing areas. They discover shipwrecks, film icebergs and observe beluga whales, humpback whales and harp seals. The film also includes a fascinating sequence showing Calypso divers freeing a calf whale entrapped in a fishing net.

  • Worst Case Scenario
    2001|43 min

    This documentary looks at the risks of a proposed sour gas well near Clearwater River, in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. Farmers and landowners all share concerns. Residents opposed to the well fear a deadly hydrogen sulphide leak. Shell Canada says it must drill to meet energy needs. When mediation talks break down, both sides anxiously await a ruling from Alberta's Energy and Utilities Board.

  • Being Caribou
    2004|1 h 12 min

    In this feature-length documentary, husband and wife team Karsten Heuer (wildlife biologist) and Leanne Allison (environmentalist) follow a herd of 120,000 caribou on foot across 1500 km of Arctic tundra. In following the herd's migration, the couple hopes to raise awareness of the threats to the caribou's survival. Along the way they brave Arctic weather, icy rivers, hordes of mosquitoes and a very hungry grizzly bear. Dramatic footage and video diaries combine to provide an intimate perspective of an epic expedition.

  • Uranium
    1990|48 min

    This documentary looks at the hazards of uranium mining in Canada. Toxic and radioactive waste pose environmental threats while the traditional economic and spiritual lives of the Aboriginal people who occupy this land have been violated. Given our limited knowledge of the associated risks, this film questions the validity of continuing the mining operations.

  • Crapshoot: The Gamble with Our Wastes
    campus 2003 | 52 min

    A hazardous mix of waste is flushed into the sewer every day. The billions of litres of water - combined with unknown quantities of chemicals, solvents, heavy metals, human waste and food - where does it all go? And what does it do to us? Filmed in Italy, India, Sweden, the United States and Canada, this bold documentary questions our fundamental attitudes to waste. Does our need to dispose of waste take precedence over public safety? What are the alternatives?

  • Manufactured Landscapes
    2006|1 h 26 min

    For almost three decades, internationally renowned Canadian artist Edward Burtynsky has been creating large scale photographs of landscapes transformed by industry: quarries, scrap heaps, factories, recycling yards, dams. Manufactured Landscapes follows Burtynsky to China as he travels the country capturing the evidence and effects of China's massive industrial revolution. Rarely witnessed sites such as the Three Gorges Dam (50% larger than any other dam in the world), the interior of a factory which produces 20 million irons a year, and the breathtaking scale of Shanghai's urban renewal are subjects for his lens and our motion picture camera. Shot in sumptuous super 16mm film, Manufactured Landscapes extends the narratives of Burtynsky's photographs, meditating on human impact on the planet without trying to reach simplistic judgements or reductive resolutions. In the process, the film shifts our consciousness about the world and the way we live in it.

  • Organic Prophecies
    2002|43 min

    Windmill Point Farm is a 70-acre island of hope in a sea of industrial agribusinesses that poison the surrounding land. Dr. Ken Taylor is an organic farmer with a PhD in chemistry, a degree that gives him unusual authority when assessing the damage we are doing to ourselves and to the environment by buying genetically engineered and pesticide-laden food.

    Organic Prophecies chronicles one man's innovative approaches on a farm in southwestern Quebec. Not only does Ken farm without GMOs, chemical fertilizers and herbicides, he also grows thousands of heirloom nuts, vegetables and fruits, helping to preserve our vital heritage.

    We also meet some of the customers who buy his organic produce--people who depend upon it for healthy food and peace of mind. This film makes prophetic statements about the sorry state of conventional agriculture and the viable alternatives.

  • Radiant City
    2006|1 h 25 min

    In this feature length film Gary Burns, Canada's king of surreal comedy, joins journalist Jim Brown on an outing to the suburbs. Venturing into territory both familiar and foreign, they turn the documentary genre inside out, crafting a vivid account of life in The Late Suburban Age.

  • Toxic Trespass
    2007|52 min

    This feature documentary is an investigation into the effects of the chemicals we are all exposed to in our daily lives. The film begins with the filmmaker Barri Cohen’s own 10-year-old daughter, whose blood carries carcinogens like benzene and the long-banned DDT. Then, it heads out to Windsor and Sarnia: Canadian toxic hotspots, with startling clusters of deadly diseases. The film presents passionate activists working for positive change, along with doctors and scientists who see evidence of links between environmental pollution and health problems. Carried by Cohen's passion for truth and her disarming openness, this moving documentary is essential viewing for anyone concerned about the effects of pollutants on our - and our children's - very DNA.

    Toxic Trespass is accompanied by a comprehensive guidebook for educators, activists and concerned citizens, produced by the Women's Healthy Environment Network.

  • Waterlife
    2009|1 h 49 min

    Waterlife is a documentary film about the Great Lakes that follows the flow of the lakes' water from the Nipigon River to the Atlantic Ocean. The film's goal is to take viewers on a tour of an incredibly beautiful ecosystem that is facing complex challenges.


    Also, check out the Waterlife interactive web project.

  • Up the Yangtze (Short Version)
    2007|1 h 5 min

    A luxury cruise boat motors up the Yangtze - navigating the mythic waterway known in China simply as 'the river.' See it while you can. The Yangtze is about to be transformed by the biggest hydroelectric dam in history. At the river's edge - a young woman says goodbye to her family as the floodwaters rise towards their small homestead.

    The Three Gorges Dam - contested symbol of the Chinese economic miracle - provides the epic backdrop for Up the Yangtze, a dramatic feature documentary on life inside the 21st century Chinese dream. Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Yung Chang crafts a moving depiction of peasant life, a powerful narrative of contemporary China, and a disquieting glimpse into a future that awaits us all.

  • Where the Bay Becomes the Sea
    1985|29 min

    This is a documentary about the fragile and complex marine ecosystem in the Bay of Fundy. The film traces relationships within the food chain - from tiny plankton to birds and seals and finally to whales and humans. The film is a plea for careful management of our ocean resource and was first telecast as part of CBC's Nature of Things series.

  • Weather Report
    2007|52 min

    For many people, global warming is something happening somewhere else to somebody else, but for millions, it is right at their doorstep. This film journeys across the globe, from the Canadian Arctic to northern Kenya, from the U.S. Midwest to China and India, visiting communities where lives and livelihoods are being affected in dramatic ways.

    Putting a face to the reality of global warming illuminates the impact of recent climate change, delivering a new perspective to audiences worldwide. The question is no longer whether climate change is happening, but whether we can respond to the emergency before it's too late.


  • The Fight for True Farming
    2005|1 h 29 min

    In this documentary, crop and animal farmers in Quebec, the Canadian West, the US Northeast and France offer solutions to the social and environmental scourges of factory farming. Driven by the forces of globalization, rampant agribusiness is harming the environmemt and threatening the survival of farms. The proliferation of GMO crops is a further threat to biodiversity as well as to farmers' autonomy. In Europe as well as North America, a current of resistance bringing together farmers and consumers insists that it is possible - indeed imperative - to grow food differently.