National Film Board of Canada
For 70 years, the National Film Board of Canada has been breaking ground in socially-engaged documentary, auteur animation, alternative drama and more!

Working with the NFB

Interested in directing or co-producing a documentary, animation, new media or alternative drama project with NFB's English Program? The following guide gives an overview of the kinds of projects we produce and how to propose an idea to us.

The type of projects we produce

Whether 100% NFB-produced or co-produced, we undertake projects that are innovative, original and that take chances in content, form and mode of creation. We prioritize director talent, authenticity and diversity of voice, and creative excellence.


A leader in documentary innovation since its founding by documentary pioneer John Grierson back in 1939, the NFB today produces and co-produces feature and short documentaries as well as documentaries for television.

We specialize in innovative, social issue documentary. Key qualities we look for in projects are director talent, original points of view, strong storytelling, social relevance and creative excellence. Our aim is to be trailblazers, setting new standards in both critical and audience appreciation.

These characteristics are in evidence in new and upcoming documentaries including:


  • Manufactured Landscapes the Genie Award-winning doc by Jennifer Baichwal using the work of photographer Edward Burtynsky to reflect on the state of the planet (Foundry Films/Mercury Films/NFB)
  • Radiant City Gary Burns and Jim Brown’s vivid account of life in suburbia (Burns Film/NFB)
  • Up the Yangtze! Yung Chang’s stunning film on the human impact of flooding caused by China’s massive Three Gorges Dam (EyeSteel Films/NFB)


  • The Dark Years A three-hour animation/documentary hybrid exploring the Great Depression in Canada (Barna Alper/NFB)
  • Becoming Human A look at humanitarian renagade James Orbinski. Peter Raymont’s sequel to the Sundance winner Shake Hands with the Devil (White Pine Pictures/NFB)


It was animation legend Norman McLaren who created the NFB’s Oscar-winning Animation Studio, over 65 years ago. Today, his legacy of artistry and experimentation lives on, through trailblazing works from a new generation of pioneers as well as pioneering developments in stereoscopic animation.

We specialize in auteur animation. Our animated productions are defined by excellence in storytelling, artistry and experimentation in both form and technique. Most of our animation productions are 100% NFB, however we’re also working with some of the world’s finest animators through our Canadian and international co-productions.

Here are a few examples of NFB leadership in auteur animation:


  • Madame Tutli-Putli A stop-motion-animated film about a woman’s metaphysical train ride by Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski. Winner of the Canal + Grand Prize for Best Short Film at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
  • The Danish Poet 2007 Academy Award-winner by Torill Kove (Mikrofilm AS (Norway)/NFB).
  • Norman McLaren – The Master’s Edition This 7-DVD box set offers unparalleled access to the work of Norman McLaren, featuring digitally restored masterpieces.

New Media

The NFB is claiming a space for the public voice in the digital realm in a way that few others can do, bringing the values of social relevance and artistic integrity to our projects.

From our pioneering work on mobile shorts to an experimental interactive DVD, we’re working alongside a range of partners to define a new language for cross-platform and interactive media by using their unique characteristics to create new ways of telling stories. Along the way we’re developing new production and distribution models and working with a range of public and private partners to develop new ways of financing these projects.

New and upcoming projects include:

  • Shorts in Motion: The Art of Seduction This award-winning series of mobile shorts features works by some of Canada’s top directors. A presentation of CHUM Television’s Bravo!FACT (Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent), co-produced by the NFB and marblemedia.
  • Confessions A collection of 10 documentary and animation shorts by leading directors that bring intimate stories of secrets, lies, mysteries and revelations to the mobile phone market. The first international partnership for mobile content production, Confessions is co-produced by the NFB and Film Australia.
  • CITIZENShift An interactive Web platform where people can explore a range of social issues.


Alternative Drama

In the tradition of pioneering projects such as Train of Dreams, Sitting in Limbo and The Company of Strangers, NFB is producing a select number of alternative dramas: low budget, fictional films driven by social-issue narratives, cast with non-professional actors and based on scripts written in conjunction with the community.

Our work in alternative drama brings together the world of the social issue documentary with creative fiction filmmaking, redefining the form in powerful, cinematic ways.


  • The Point – a film by and about inner city kids (Silo Productions/NFB).


  • Family Motel – a soon-to-be-released alternative drama from acclaimed director Helen Klodawsky about a Somali-Canadian family’s struggle for survival in the land of plenty (Instinct Film/NFB).

We encourage you to check out our recent projects on our Web site:

Date Modified: 2018-04-25

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