There have only been three official music directors at the NFB: Louis Applebaum 1942-8, Eugene Kash 1948-50, and Robert Fleming 1958-70. From the beginning the NFB included composers - notably Maurice Blackburn and Eldon Rathburn - on its permanent staff. Others were hired on contract, among them Howard Cable, Neil Chotem, Luc Cousineau, Larry Crosley, André Gagnon, Phyllis Gummer, Yvan Landry, Michel Longtin, Oskar Morawetz, Barbara Pentland, Godfrey Ridout, Tony Romandini, Morris Surdin, Vic Vogel, and John Weinzweig. The board chose music as the subject of several films, including The Singing Pipes/Le Vent qui chante (1945, devoted to Casavant Frères), Story of a Violin (1947, with the participation of George Heinl), and a film on musical notation in Braille (1950, made with Paul Doyon). In 1975 MusiCanada, a full-length film on the different facets of Canadian musical life, was produced by Malca Gilson and Tony Ianzelo to mark World Music Week. Among the best-known artists appearing in the film were Beau Dommage, Canadian Brass, Maureen Forrester, Glenn Gould, Paul Horn, the Lyric Arts Trio, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.
In 1975 the NFB began producing films for the CBC and, reciprocally, handling showings of some CBC films. By 1990 more than 6500 films had been produced, including a large number presented at international festivals, and the NFB had received over 3000 awards, including nine Oscars (Hollywood), four Palmes d'Or (Cannes), and five Robert Flaherty Awards (England). Various scores by Blackburn, Gabriel Charpentier, Alain Clavier, McLaren, Pierre Mercure, Rathburn, and Gilles Tremblay were reissued in 1977 in an album of 2 LPs, Music of the NFB (NFB l and 2).
Notable NFB Films on Music
In 1982 the NFB produced the musical film Au pays de Zom, with the bass Joseph Rouleau and music by Jacques Hétu, and in the following year Singing: A Joy in Any Language, a documentary of a tour in China by Maureen Forrester, Claude Corbeil, and Claude Savard. In 1998 the NFB produced a documentary entitled McGill, Mahler and Montreal, directed by Robert Chesterman and devoted to a performance of Mahler's 5th Symphony by the McGill Symphony Orchestra. Show Girls of 1998, directed by Meilan Lam, examines Montreal's Black jazz scene between 1920 and 1960. The documentary Spirits of Havana (2001), directed by Bay Weyman and Luis Osvaldo Garcia, follows soprano saxophonist Jane Bunnett to Cuba. A 2004 documentary directed by Pierre-Henry Salfati titled The Ninth - An Exceptional Destiny explores the political uses that have been made of Beethoven's last symphony.
Other musicians, composers, performers, choirs, and orchestras also have been the subjects of films: Paul Anka, the Leslie Bell Singers, CANO, Jean Carignan, Linton Garner, Glenn Gould, Marek Jablonski, Oliver Jones, Harry Freedman, Willie Lamothe, Félix Leclerc (Les Brûlés), Alexina Louie, Don Messer, Wilfrid Pelletier, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, The Travellers, R. Murray Schafer, the TSO under Sir Ernest MacMillan, Oscar Peterson, Eldon Rathburn, Gilles Vigneault, John Weinzweig, Healey Willan, John Wyre and Maurice Zbriger.
Studios and Viewing Centres
The NFB maintains numerous production studios across Canada and offices in New York, Chicago, London, Paris, and Sydney. Some NFB films have been adapted into as many as 60 different languages and distributed for non-commercial use by more than 80 diplomatic missions and commercial agencies in Canada and abroad. Local showings have been assured by 92 viewing centres in Canada's main cities. Copies of films, and in some cases video cassettes, have been available for rental or for purchase.
Author Denise Ménard, Suzanne Thomas, Christopher Moore
'National Film Board stresses original scores,' CanComp, 5, Jan 1966
Grierson, John. Letter to Lou Applebaum. CanComp, 38, Mar 1969
Véronneau, Pierre, et al. Le Cinéma canadien (Montreal, Paris 1978)
- and Dumesnil, Thérèse. 'L'Office national du film: chasseur d'images depuis 40 ans,' Perspectives, vol 21, 25 Aug 1979
Godfrey, Stephen. 'The NFB at 50,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 29 Apr 1989
Alaton, Salem. 'A new generation sets the cameras rolling,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 29 Apr 1989
Moreau, Jean-Paul. 'The National Film Board: fifty years of history,' The Archivist, vol 16, Nov-Dec 1989
Musique et Cinéma: filmographie des compositeurs canadiens ayant signé des partitions musicales dans des film produits par l'ONF 1940-64. La Cinémathèque canadienne, Montreal, 1965.
The NFB issues annotated catalogues of films in current distribution.
Links to Other Sites
The website for the Historica-Dominion Institute, parent organization of The Canadian Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Check out their extensive online feature about the War of 1812, the "Heritage Minutes" video collection, and many other interactive resources concerning Canadian history, culture, and heritage.
Toronto International Film Festival
The website for the Toronto International Film Festival. Check out the latest film news and links to the Bell Lightbox, the Film Reference Library, Cinematheque Ontario, Sprockets, Reel Learning, Film Circuit, Canada's Top Ten, and related features.
Oscar Winners - It's Oscar Time
Watch all of the remarkable Oscar-winning films produced by the National Film Board.
Canadian Film Institute
The CFI website profiles notable Canadian filmmakers and showcases various film genres. Also provides information about Canadian film festivals.
Check out the latest news about funding programs in support of quality Canadian productions - e.g. feature films, drama series, documentaries, children's shows, variety/performing arts programs, and new media products - that reflect Canadian society, including its linguistic duality and cultural diversity.
The Second World War and the NFB: On all fronts
View a selection of historical and contemporary Canadian films about the Second World War. Also, check out the glossary of terms referred to in the films. From the National Film Board of Canada.
Chris Landreth’s animated NFB film “Ryan” is dedicated to the talented Canadian animator Ryan Larkin.
View images and other multimedia from the NFB's extensive film collection.
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...