beta.NFB.ca Goes Live

PC World magazine reports that

Over on beta.NFB.ca they’ve created a free, public online repository of [National Film Board of Canada] shorts and features, starting with over 300 films from their archives. The films can be shared and embedded YouTube-style, as well.

This isn’t the first time the NFB has dipped into their vaults for their online audience. Two years ago, to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the creation of the animation department, the NFB put 70 of their animation shorts on their Focus on Animation site. However, that played as something of a “greatest hits” collection; not that that’s bad thing, but it didn’t have the scope of beta.NFB.ca, which even in this preliminary stage offers a more textured view of the history of Canada, Canadians, and cinema as a whole.

onf-nfb-logo-blk I checked it out and found some of the usual suspects, such as Norman McLaren’s wartime Hen Hop and his masterly dance film Pas de deux, which is certainly one of the most eloquent visual effects films ever made. However, there are a number of other films which I have always been curious about, including Don Owen’s feature-length Nobody Waved Goodbye (1964). The site is very much a work in progress — for instance there is only one film so far by Paul Driessen (Cat’s Cradle), you cannot yet search by name and the links to buy a DVD do not always provide the right title; but overall, the site looks a real winner.

In the meantime, below find two films I did catch up with: Stuart Legg’s memorable wartime documentary, Churchill’s Island (1941), with a vintage poetic narration spoken by Lorne Greene; it was the first of many NFB films to win an Oscar. I also enjoyed Pierre Hébert’s Songs and Dances of the Inanimate World: The Subway (1985), an experimental animation in the tradition of Norman McLaren.

Update February 6, 2017: I’m no longer able to embed Pierre Hébert’s Songs and Dances of the Inanimate World: The Subway (1985), but it can be seen online here.

Author: Harvey Deneroff

Harvey Deneroff is a Los Angeles-based independent animation and film scholar specializing in labor history. He formerly taught at the Savannah College of Art and Design and was editor of Animation Magazine, Animation World Magazine, and Graiffit (published by ASIFA-Hollywood). He is the founder and past president of the Society for Animation Studies.