Search for "National Film Board"

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Film Distribution in Canada

Film distribution is one of the three main branches of the film industry. It provides the link between film production and exhibition. It is also the most profitable of the three sectors and is dominated by large multinational conglomerates. Film distribution companies supply movies, television programs, videos and new media to outlets such as cinemas and broadcasters. They do so in territories where they have acquired rights from the producers. Traditionally, distribution companies are the prime source for financing new productions. The distribution sector has been called “the invisible art.” Its practices tend to only concern industry insiders and go unnoticed by audiences. American companies dominate film distribution in Canada. They have controlled access to Canadian screens since the 1920s. (See also: Canadian Film History: 1896 to 1938.)

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Quebec Film History: 1970 to 1989

This entry presents an overview of Québec cinema, from the burgeoning of a distinctly Québec cinema in the 1970s, to the production explosion that followed Denys Arcand’s Le déclin de l’empire américain (1986). It highlights the most important films, whether in terms of box office success or international acclaim, and covers both narrative features and documentaries. It also draws attention to an aspect of filmmaking that still has difficulty finding its place: women's cinema.

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The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is Mordecai Richler’s fourth and best-known novel. Published in 1959, it tells the story of a young Jewish man from Montreal who is obsessed with acquiring status, money and land. Bitingly satirical, it is a landmark Canadian novel. It established Richler as an international literary figure and sparked an interest in Canadian literature both at home and abroad. It also drew criticism from those who felt the main character embodied anti-Semitic stereotypes. Richler also received several awards and an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for the 1974 feature film adaptation, co-written with Lionel Chetwynd and directed by Ted Kotcheff.

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Canadian Film History: 1974 to Present

Filmmaking is a powerful form of cultural and artistic expression, as well as a highly profitable commercial enterprise. From a practical standpoint, filmmaking is a business involving large sums of money and a complex division of labour. This labour is involved, roughly speaking, in three sectors: production, distribution and exhibition. The history of the Canadian film industry has been one of sporadic achievement accomplished in isolation against great odds. Canadian cinema has existed within an environment where access to capital for production, to the marketplace for distribution and to theatres for exhibition has been extremely difficult. The Canadian film industry, particularly in English Canada, has struggled against the Hollywood entertainment monopoly for the attention of an audience that remains largely indifferent toward the domestic industry. The major distribution and exhibition outlets in Canada have been owned and controlled by foreign interests. The lack of domestic production throughout much of the industry’s history can only be understood against this economic backdrop.

This article is one of four that surveys the history of the film industry in Canada. The entire series includes: Canadian Film History: 1896 to 1938; Canadian Film History: 1939 to 1973; Canadian Film History: 1974 to Present; Canadian Film History: Notable Films and Filmmakers 1980 to Present.

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Jean Beaudin

Jean Beaudin, COQ, director, writer, editor (born 6 February 1939 in Montreal, QC; died 18 May 2019 in Montreal). Film director Jean Beaudin is perhaps best known for J.A. Martin, photographe (1977). Considered one of best Canadian films of all time, it won major awards at the Cannes Film Festival and at the Canadian Film Awards. Beaudin also won acclaim for his adaptions of Quebec literature, including the hugely popular TV series Les Filles de Caleb (1990–91). He was made a Chevalier in the Ordre national du Québec and received a Governor General’s Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award.

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Peter Raymont

Peter Raymont, director, producer, editor, writer (born 28 February 1950 in Ottawa, ON). Peter Raymont is one of Canada’s most accomplished and acclaimed documentary filmmakers. After beginning his career at the NFB, he started his own production company in 1978 and co-founded the Canadian Independent Film Caucus (now the Documentary Organization of Canada) in 1982. He has won four Gemini Awards, an Emmy Award, a Genie Award and a Canadian Screen Award, as well as major prizes at the Sundance Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival, among many others.

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Sylvia Hamilton

Sylvia D. Hamilton, filmmaker, writer, educator (born in Beechville, NS). Sylvia Hamilton specializes in re-evaluating Canadian history and focusing on the perspectives of Black Canadians, particularly Black Canadian women. Her films include Black Mother Black Daughter (1989); the Gemini Award winner Speak It! From the Heart of Black Nova Scotia (1993); the biographical documentary Portia White: Think On Me (2000); and The Little Black School House (2007). She has received many honours and awards, including the Nova Scotia Portia White Prize, the Pierre Berton Award from the Governor General’s History Awards for Popular Media, and the Luminary Award from the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC).

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Jennifer Hodge de Silva

Jennifer Hodge de Silva, née Hodge, documentary filmmaker (born 28 January 1951 in Montreal, QC; died 5 May 1989 in Montreal). Jennifer Hodge de Silva was a pioneering African Canadian filmmaker of the 1970s and 1980s. She was the first Black filmmaker to work consistently with both the National Film Board and the CBC. She produced an acclaimed and influential body of work known as realist social issue documentary. Her highly regarded film Home Feeling: A Struggle for Community (1983), co-directed with Robert McTair, is widely taught in film studies programs throughout Canada.

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Monique Mercure

Monique Mercure, née Émond, CC, actor (born 14 November 1930 in Montreal, QC; died 16 May 2020 in Outremont, QC). The career of this distinguished actress, among the most visible on Quebec and Canadian stages and screens, has broad international appeal. Performing some one hundred major theatre roles in French and English, her spirit, intensity and hearty laugh made a mark on several television series and award-winning films.

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Jennifer Holness

Jennifer Holness, producer, screenwriter, director (born 1969 in Montego Bay, Jamaica). Jennifer Holness is the president and co-founder of Hungry Eyes Film & Television, which specializes in telling stories that engage with social issues and representations of Black Canadians. Her credits as producer include the award-winning Love, Sex, and Eating the Bones (2003), Home Again (2012), the Gemini Award-winning miniseries Guns (2009) and the award-winning feature documentary Stateless (2020).

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Massey Commission

The Massey Commission was formally known as the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences. It was officially appointed by Prime Minister Louis St-Laurent on 8 April 1949. Its purpose was to investigate the state of arts and culture in Canada. Vincent Massey chaired the Commission. It issued its landmark report, the Massey Report, on 1 June 1951. The report advocated for the federal funding of a wide range of cultural activities. It also made a series of recommendations that resulted in the founding of the National Library of Canada (now Library and Archives Canada), the creation of the Canada Council for the Arts, federal aid for universities, and the conservation of Canada’s historic places, among other initiatives. The recommendations that were made by the Massey Report, and enacted by the federal government, are generally seen as the first major steps to nurture, preserve and promote Canadian culture.

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Alanis Obomsawin

Alanis Obomsawin, CC, GOQ, filmmaker, singer, artist, storyteller (born 31 August 1932 near Lebanon, New Hampshire). Alanis Obomsawin is one of Canada’s most distinguished documentary filmmakers. She began her career as a professional singer and storyteller before joining the National Film Board (NFB) in 1967. Her award-winning films address the struggles of Indigenous peoples in Canada from their perspective, giving prominence to voices that have long been ignored or dismissed. A Companion of the Order of Canada and a Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Québec, she has received the Prix Albert-Tessier and the Canadian Screen Awards’ Humanitarian Award, as well as multiple Governor General’s Awards, lifetime achievement awards and honorary degrees.