Skip to main content

IDA Honors National Film Board of Canada

By Diana Rico

The IDA will bestow its 1996 Preservation and Scholarship Award to the National Film Board of Canada for its significant archival and preservation achievements over the years. The NFB will be honored at the 12th Annual IDA Awards Gala on November 1, along with the winners of the 1996 IDA Distinguished Documentary Achievement Awards, the David L. Wolper Student Documentary Achievement Award, and the Career Achievement Award winner.

Established by an Act of Parliament, the NFB was founded in 1939 by pioneer documentary filmmaker John Grierson, who was its first government film commissioner.

Grierson's vision was to make the NFB "the eyes of Canada," and to ensure that these eyes would, "through a national use of cinema, see Canada and see it while: its people and its purpose."

Today the NFB's English and French Program Branches produce documentaries, animation, and fiction in Canada's two official languages. Its permanent collection includes more than 9,000 titles, most of them deposited at the National Archives of Canada in Ottawa. Its documentary holdings are among the largest in the world.

The NFB's original purpose, to produce films for World War II, was carried out in the landmark series Canada Carried On and World in Action. Two years after its founding, the NFB earned its first Oscar, for Stuart Legg's Churchill’s Island, the first Oscar ever won by a documentary. 

Other classics in the collection include the first Canadian films on women's roles during and after the war, Proudly She Marches (1943) Wings on Her Shoulder (1943), and Careers and Cradles (1947); the direct cinema series Candid Eye (1958), inspired by the style of photojournalism Henri Cartier-Bresson; many films on aboriginal peoples and the ir histories, legends, and traditions; documentaries on Malcolm Lowry, Leonard Cohen, Margaret Atwood, and other Canadian artists; and films on social problems, folklore, economics, environmental issues, the multi ethnic nature of Canadian society, and countless other topics.


Diana Rico is the Editor of ID.