Across Cultures

About this site

The main goal of Across Cultures is to celebrate Canadian cultural diversity by highlighting the extraordinary contributions that different communities have made to Canada, as well as the many challenges they have had to face, while acknowledging the less praiseworthy moments in Canadian history regarding cultural diversity. The site is also intended as a tribute to filmmakers from various cultural and ethnic communities who have made it their work to show the Canadian population the great richness of their cultures. Lastly, the site is designed to help teachers present the issues around Canadian multiculturalism in a dynamic and inviting way that also matches the goals of their academic programs.

Films and film clips
The site features 120 films from the NFB collection (60 in English; 60 in French in the French part). Of those, 48 (24 in English; 24 in French in the French part) include an audio description for the blind and visually impaired; and 49 films (27 in English; 22 in French in the French part) are available with closed-captioning. Users will also find 164 film clips (80 in English; 84 in French in the French part).

These 120 films are only a fraction of NFB productions on Canada’s ethnic and cultural communities; however, they are representative of communities from all over the country, and altogether more than 60 years of film production are covered. The selection does not include films on Aboriginal peoples, since another site – Aboriginal Perspectives – is devoted entirely to them.

Some people may be surprised at the omission of well known works from our list. They are absent because we were unable to obtain online broadcast rights for all the films we might have wanted to include and because the project, which is supported by the Canadian Memory Fund, had to leave aside some newer works to give pride of place to those of high heritage value.

How the site is organized
The Across Cultures Web site is divided into five sections: Themes to Explore; Cinema and Representation; Points of View; See Everything, Hear Everything; and For Teachers. The Themes section covers 6 themes formulated as questions. Each theme includes film clips with accompanying questions, original articles and interviews with experts, public opinion polls, archival materials and classroom activities. Cinema and Representation considers the ways in which ethnic and cultural communities have been represented in NFB documentaries. In it, you will find film clips, archival materials, original articles by NFB experts, interviews with filmmakers and a classroom activity. The third section, Points of View, addresses issues of racism, identity and social integration in Canada. It comprises original articles by Canadian experts in the field, film clips and discussions. The See Everything, Hear Everything section gives users access to all the complete films, film clips, archival artefacts and other types of audiovisual content available on the site. Finally, For Teachers offers lesson plans, web links and bibliographic resources. It contains a Glossary of Terms (also available on the Tools menu) to familiarize users with the language of cultural diversity.

In conclusion
Our main focus is on the complete films, but we also include film clips as an easy introduction to each section. The clips allow teachers, students and other users to quickly pinpoint specific content – the issues raised in each theme, expert viewpoints, or aspects of ethnic and cultural representation, for example. Of course, the complete films are always available and easily accessed for viewing.

Clearly, we cannot claim to cover every aspect of diversity, describe every issue, raise every question, or mention the challenges and achievements of every ethnic and cultural community in the country. Across Cultures does, however, provide an excellent introduction to the area for anyone interested in multiculturalism and the issue of cultural diversity in Canada.

We encourage users to visit two other sites our team has built with support from the Canadian Memory Fund, which also deal with issues of cultural diversity: Documentary Lens and Aboriginal Perspectives.