Beginning in 1920, Robert J. Flaherty spent a year in the Canadian Arctic (Port Harrison in Northern Quebec) documenting the daily struggles of an Inuk man named Nanook. The resulting feature-length film, an American silent documentary with elements of docudrama, was the first of its kind, in a style that would eventually become known as "salvage ethnography." Nanook of the North: A Story Of Life and Love In the Actual Arctic (1922) [more inside]
Glenn Gould's North is an essay about the radio documentaries composed by Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould. The most famous are the three "contrapuntal" documentaries which comprise The Solitude Trilogy [available on Spotify and can be purchased on iTunes]. What is contrapuntal radio? The Glenn Gould Foundation explained in series of short podcasts, and a glimpse of Gould's scripts and diagrams may aid understanding, as well as quotes by Gould and others about The Solitude Trilogy. Many have responded to The Solitude Trilogy, from the perspectives of a hermit, mennonite, and a collage artist, whose collage series can be seen here. As the title suggests, The Solitude Trilogy deals with isolation, quietude, loneliness, seclusion and solitude in modern life, but Gould also made documentaries on a variety of musical subjects, such as Richard Strauss and sixties pop singer Petula Clark. Most of his documentaries, including The Solitude Trilogy, are available for listening on the website of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Links below. [more inside]
In 1984, the Canadian branch of the United Auto Workers, represented by Bob White, and General Motors Canada, represented by Rod Andrew, sat down to negotiate a new wage agreement. GM had gotten the American UAW to agree to profit sharing and was dead-set on doing the same in the North; the Canadians were bitterly opposed to the idea. By the end of the negotiation, workers had struck, negotiators had been stabbed in the back, White and his allies had split from the UAW to form the CAW, and a compromise was reached that left everyone a bit unhappy - but the workers less so than their managers. Filmmaker Sturla Gunnarsson used his unprecedented access to both teams of negotiators to craft Final Offer, "the best collective bargaining film ever made." You can stream the movie in its entirety at the National Film Board's website.
This documentary pokes fun at the ways in which Inuit people have been treated as “exotic” documentary subjects by turning the lens onto the strange behaviours of Qallunaat (the Inuit word for white people). The term refers less to skin colour than to a certain state of mind: Qallunaat greet each other with inane salutations, repress natural bodily functions, complain about being cold, and want to dominate the world. Their odd dating habits, unsuccessful attempts at Arctic exploration, overbearing bureaucrats and police, and obsession with owning property are curious indeed. A collaboration between filmmaker Mark Sandiford and Inuit writer and satirist Zebedee Nungak, Qallunaat! brings the documentary form to an unexpected place in which oppression, history, and comedy collide.Qallunaat! Why White People Are Funny
This is The Big Picture, an official television report of the United States Army, produced for the armed forces and the American people. Now to show you part of The Big Picture here is Master Sargent Stuart Queen
The series consists of ~822 documentaries produced by the United States Army Signal Corps Army Pictorial Service from 1951 to 1971 to educate both soldiers in uniform and the American public about military concerns as well as things like historical battles, world geography, famous soldiers, the latest weapons, space exploration, strategic objectives, peaceful initiatives, and the life of a soldier. Being a product of the Federal Government it belongs to the the American people, and is thus freely available to all to copy and distribute. Most can now be viewed on archive.org[more inside]
Glenn Gould on and off the record. The Russian Journey. Extasis. Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould. The Goldberg Variations (1955), (1981). The Well-Tempered Clavier. Beethoven Sonatas. The Idea of North. TL;DW: Gould plays Bach
You've probably never heard anything quite like the musical documentary More About Henry. Remixing interviews with musical interpretation, composer Adam Goddard has woven a unique work of art from the stories of his grandfather, Henry Robert Tindale Haws, who spent a half-century farming in rural Ontario. More About Henry first aired on CBC Radio's Ideas. [more inside]
Grierson believed strongly that the filmmaker had a social responsibility, and that film could help a society realize democratic ideals. His absolute faith in the value of capturing the drama of everyday life was to influence generations of filmmakers all over the world. In fact, he coined the term "documentary film." [more inside]
"There are no national standards or regulations regarding forensic pathology and practices vary widely from place to place."
The Hardest Cases: When Children Die, Justice Can Be Elusive A joint investigation by PBS Frontline, ProPublica and NPR has found that medical examiners and coroners have repeatedly mishandled cases of infant and child deaths, helping to put innocent people behind bars. (Via. (Article contains descriptions of children that have been killed by abuse. May be disturbing / triggering to some readers.) [more inside]
Survival, Strength, Sisterhood: Power of Women in the Downtown Eastside (Vimeo link; possibly triggering) is a 2011 short film by Alejandro Zuluaga and Harsha Walia, based on a concept by the Downtown Eastside Power of Women Group (TRT 32:00). [more inside]
Waterlife — No matter where we live, the Great Lakes affect us all. And as species of fish disappear and rates of birth defects and cancer rise, it seems one thing is clear: the Great Lakes are changing and something's not quite right with the water. An interactive documentary film from the National Film Board of Canada. [more inside]
Mentioned here earlier in its beta form, Canada's National Film Board has released the bulk of its films online, for free, in the NFB Screening Room. With hundreds of films from the 1920s onwards, including groundbreaking work by animator Norman McLaren, documentaries, dramas, bizarre anti-smoking (or pro-smoking?) screeds and much, much more, it's a breathtaking trove of amazing film to be discovered from north of the 49th. [more inside]
Canadian author Lesley Choyce and his family share their extended encounter with a surfeit of skunks in a short documentary, avaible on YouTube in three parts. [more inside]
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is pumping out a pile of podcasts that have covered the importance of offensive comics to Art Spiegelman, 600 bands over 54 shows, Captain America versus the American government, Amy Sedaris and geekdom, the journey of young immigrants, French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut and Harper's publisher John MacArthur discussing Europe and America perspectives since 9/11, the after life, sex with monkeys, what radio producers do, the french word "corps", Bonnie Fuller's "The Joys of Much Too Much: Go For the Big Life — The Great Career, The Perfect Guy, and Everything Else You've Ever Wanted (Even If You're Afraid You Don't Have What It Takes)", Veteran Washington reporter Helen Thomas and some other bits & bobs [Breakdown inside]