Social Issues and the Economy

National Film Board documentaries reflect upon incidents from Canada’s past and show political history as it happens.


The Back-breaking Leaf

The Back-breaking Leaf 1

Billy Crane Moves Away

Billy Crane Moves Away 1

Billy Crane Moves Away 2

Camera On Labour no. 4

Camera On Labour no. 4 1

Citizen Discussions

Citizen Discussions 1

Home Front

Home Front 1

Home Front 2

Newfoundland Sentinel of the Atlantic

Newfoundland Sentinel of the Atlantic 1

Strike in Town

Strike in Town 1

The Back-breaking Leaf

1962, Director: Terence Macartney-Filgate

      1 min 29 s


Questions 1. The excerpt begins with a young boy riding off on his horse. Why has the film editor placed that scene before the introduction of the pickers?

2. How does the camera technique contribute to the film's treatment of transient labour and the hard work of tobacco picking?

About This Film


Smokers say it's relaxing, but tobacco harvesters call it "the back-breaking leaf." Here is a graphic picture of the tobacco harvest in southwestern Ontario, presented from the points of view of the transient field workers who move in for a brief bonanza when the leaves are ripe, and of the farmers who depend solely on this crop. A 1959 black and white production.
Running Time: 27 min 36 s

Director Terence Macartney-Filgate

Producer Wolf Koenig, Roman Kroitor

Script and Text Stanley Jackson

Images Terence Macartney-Filgate, Gilles Gascon

Editor John Spotton

Music Eldon Rathburn

Sound Terence Macartney-Filgate, George Croll, Victor Merrill

Producers National Film Board of Canada

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