The 1960s: An Explosion of Creativity

By Albert Ohayon

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Curator's description

The 1960s was a period of great change at the National Film Board (NFB). Filmmakers had embraced direct cinema at the end of the previous decade and would continue to make classic films in this style throughout the 1960s. Animated films would start to win prizes around the world, and the NFB would try its hand at producing feature-length fiction for the first time.

Television would play an ever increasing role in the broadcast of NFB films. As in the 1950s, many classic direct cinema films would be made for television. The seminal series Candid Eye would end its run in 1961, but the NFB would continue to produce great direct cinema films such as Colin Low’s The Hutterites for television.

The production of feature-length fiction in both English and French came about when filmmakers used the techniques learned in shooting documentary and adapted them to dramatizing events of importance to Canadian society. Don Owen’s Nobody Waved Good-bye started off as a documentary on juvenile delinquency but along the way the filmmaker realized that fiction was the best way to tell this story and shot the film in this way.

Experimental film and animated productions really came of age during this decade. NFB filmmakers were recognized around the world for unique styles that contrasted with what was available commercially at the time. Following in the footsteps of animation pioneer Norman McLaren, filmmakers such as Ryan Larkin and Arthur Lipsett gained international reputations for work that refused to conform to conventional filmmaking techniques, thus creating a new type of film. These filmmakers would inspire a generation of Hollywood greats such as Stanley Kubrick and George Lucas.

The decade would end with the NFB’s filmmakers tackling society’s problems through the use of film in such series as Challenge for Change.

About the author

Albert Ohayon

Having viewed over 7,500 films, Albert Ohayon is our resident collections expert. He studied film production and journalism at Concordia University in Montreal and has been working at the National Film Board since 1984.