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The NFB and Fogo Island, Newfoundland: A continuing story

The NFB and Fogo Island, Newfoundland: A continuing story

Fogo Island - Then and Now

On June 1, 2010, the NFB, along with the Shorefast Foundation and the Fogo Island Arts Corporation, will be celebrating the opening of a new e-cinema on Fogo Island in Newfoundland. This e-cinema (an all-digital community theatre) is the first theatre ever to exist on the island. It also marks the NFB's return to a community that 40 years ago, put the Challenge for Change program on the map.

Challenge for Change was a program that allowed communities to use film and video to incite social change. By recording people talking about the issues, and then playing those recordings back to the community, everyone was able to get a global view of what the problems were and work together towards resolving them.

The 9 films included in this playlist were part of the original Newfoundland Project, aka, The Fogo Island Project. They demonstrate, in a very concrete way, how the Challenge for Change program worked. The films were all directed by Colin Low, one of the founders of IMAX and one of the NFB and Canada's most famous documentary filmmakers.

Now, in 2010, more than 40 years later, the NFB is returning to the Island to honour a longstanding commitment to the community. In addition to the opening of the e-cinema, we are working with the Shorefast Foundation and the Fogo Island Arts Corporation to offer media literacy workshops to the island's youth, providing them with the opportunity to tell their own stories, in their own way.

We are also establishing a film residency partnership, offering artistic training to the Island's citizens in collaboration with 3 artist residents – Andrea Dorfman (Flawed), Bruce Alcock (Vive la Rose) and Yassine Ouhilal, who will be working with the NFB for the first time.

In much the same way that the NFB began its relationship with the residents of Fogo Island, it is now continuing that tradition, encouraging their passion for the arts while simultaneously using film and video to bring about change, both to the community and the economy.

Other films from the Fogo Island Project

Andrew Britt at Shoal Bay
Brian Earle on Merchants and Welfare
Citizen Discussions
Dan Roberts on Fishing
Discussions on Welfare
The Fogo Island Improvement Committee
The Founding of the Cooperatives
Jim Decker's Party
McGraths at Home and Fishing
The Mercer Family
The Merchant and the Teacher
Some Problems of Fogo
The Songs of Chris Cobb
The Story of the Up Top
Thoughts on Fogo and Norway
Tom Best on Co-operatives
Two Cabinet Ministers
William Wells Talks About the Island

Learn more about Fogo Island and the Newfoundland Project

Lunch with Colin Low (An interview with director Colin Low)
The Shorefast Foundation
Newfoundland Project (original poster and information sheet)
The Children of Fogo Island (original poster and information sheet)
Fogo Island Film and Community Development Project
Colin Low, Fogo Island Communication experiment
Fogo Island Project submitted by B. Nemtin and C. Low
The Pegram Lectures, Colin Low

Additional Resources

Tales of Fogo Island
Old Photos of Fogo Island (on Facebook)
Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism (on Facebook)

  • Joe Kinsella on Education
    1967|7 min

    Joe Kinsella talks about the problem of young people leaving Fogo Island after they finish their education.

  • Billy Crane Moves Away
    1967|17 min

    This short documentary features Newfoundland fisherman Billy Crane, who speaks frankly on the state of the inshore fishery and how the lack of government support has contributed to the industry’s downfall. He is being forced to leave home to seek employment in Toronto. This film was made with the Challenge for Change program.

  • Fishermen's Meeting
    1967|27 min

    By using film as a means of communication, the people of Fogo Island, Newfoundland, voice some of their daily concerns. In this film, some of the problems discussed are the lack of fish and the inability to market any species but cod.

  • The Children of Fogo Island
    1967|17 min

    This short film from Colin Low presents the problems faced by the people of Fogo Island, Newfoundland and what keeps them committed to the land. Witness some of the magic of the island, as seen through the eyes of children, and understand why its inhabitants cling to its shores.

  • Introduction to Fogo Island
    1968|16 min

    This film introduces the Fogo Island/Newfoundland Project series which is an experiment in how film can be a catalyst for social change by serving as a direct means of communication. It gives some basic facts about Fogo Island, Newfoundland, and explains why it was chosen for the film project.

  • A Woman's Place
    1967|16 min

    Two women discuss the roles and problems of women, education, and shopping on Fogo Island.

  • A Wedding and Party
    1967|10 min

    In this short film, we witness two Fogo Island festivities: a Roman Catholic wedding in Joe Batts Arm South and a party with music and dancing in Joe Batts Arm North.

  • Fogo's Expatriates
    1967|15 min

    Individuals who have moved away from Fogo Island express their opinions on the life and problems of the Island.

  • Jim Decker Builds a Longliner
    1967|19 min

    Through the use of film as a catalyst for change, the people of Fogo Island, Newfoundland, voice some of their daily concerns. This film shows how one of the Islanders built a longliner with the help of his friends, overcoming the problems of financing, and of the lack of tools and government support.