The DOCUMENTARY FILMWarrendale (1967) covers seven weeks in a Toronto-area treatment centre occupied by twelve emotionally disturbed children, most of them abandoned by their parents. A note at the beginning of the film emphasizes that these children are of normal intelligence, but gravely disturbed. The treatment at Warrendale was experimental, involving a maximum amount of physical contact as a direct way to express love and reassurance. The children were encouraged to release all their anger and aggression while being tightly held by two or three adult staff members. Director Allan KING and his small crew, using portable hand-held cameras and recording equipment, observed the treatment as unobtrusively as possible. The resulting emotionally wrenching footage, and foul language of the children, shocked the management at the CBC, who decided against broadcasting it. Instead, King released Warrendale theatrically to great acclaim.
When it was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 1967, jury member Jean Renoir, the legendary French director, called King a great artist and the film one of the most remarkable documentaries he had ever seen. It went on to win the Prix d'art et d'essai at Cannes, and also shared the British Academy's Best Foreign Film Award with Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up. In Canada, it received Canadian Film Awards for best feature film and film of the year, and King won best director. It is one of the most famous documentaries ever made and was eventually shown on Canadian television - 30 years after it was shot.