Earlier this week one of my colleagues hosted a professional development presentation on the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada. Since that presentation, which mainly focused on how to get the most out of the NFB database, I’ve been thinking a lot about the applications of NFB material in instructional or public history settings.
I’ve always had a bit of a fond spot for the NFB– mostly because of amusing animated shorts that were deemed educational enough to be shown in school (eg. The Cat Cam Back and The Big Snit). However, I had no idea how much history content and archival footage is held by the NFB. At this point, I have been able to find clips on almost any historical topic I’ve looked up. Additionally, the “Explore Film by Subject” feature allows users to search periods of history (1967-1919, 1920-1945, 1946-Present, and Pre-1867). Each time period can then be divided thematically, making finding useful films fairly painless.
Some of the best examples I’ve found of historically relevant footage on the NFB:
- Vistas: InukShop, focusing on the appropriation of Inuit culture throughout Canada’s history.
- Action: The October Crisis of 1970, a full length documentary film looking at October 1970 when Montreal awaited the outcome of FLQ terrorist acts. This film includes a lot of archival and news footage from the era.
- Westray, a feature documentary focusing on the Westray coal mine disaster that occured in Nova Scotia on May 9, 1992.
There are multitudes of other examples and options for any subject that professors, interpreters, and education staff might be trying to bring to life.