Across Cultures

Cinema and Representation

Relive a facet of the great history of NFB documentary film by discovering how cultural communities have been represented over the last 65 years.

Image taken from Teach Me to Dance, 1978. © NFB

The Official Voice

The first films on cultural communities in Canada were made in the 1940s. They seem quaint to us today, concentrating on ancestral customs, religious beliefs, crafts, dress and traditional dance and music. Their vision of immigration might to us seem naive and idealized, implying that the immigrants integrated easily and were happy with their new life in Canada.
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Image taken from One Sunday in Canada, 1961. © NFB

The Mainstream Perspective

By the late 1950s the advent of light portable cameras and synchronous sound equipment meant that NFB filmmakers had a great deal of freedom in filming their subjects. No longer being tied down to huge, immobile noisy cameras meant that filmmakers could go pretty much wherever they wished, film whatever they wanted and get close to their subjects.
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Image taken from Rupture, 1998. © NFB

Other Views, Other Experiences

In 1971 the Secretary of State of Canada announced a new policy of support to all the various cultures and ethnic groups in Canada. This policy of multiculturalism was to help break down discriminatory attitudes and cultural conflicts.
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Image taken from Minoru : Memory of Exile, 1992. © NFB

A Voice From Within

Filmmakers from ethnocultural communities were finally able in the 1970s and 1980s to carve out a place for themselves within the National Film Board of Canada. They used their new forum to make films about their own communities or other communities grappling with similar issues. Since the 1990s, some of these filmmakers have opted for a different approach.
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Image taken from A School Without Borders, 2005. © NFB


Consult lists of selected written resources and Web sites related to the subjects of this section. Or find a link to the NFB’s online catalogue for references to more films on similar subjects. If you are interested in resources in French, please consult the French version of this Web site.
> Consult the resources