National Film Board 1939-2009

For 70 years, the National Film Board of Canada has been breaking ground in socially-engaged documentary, auteur animation, alternative drama and more! This is how the NFB/ONF (Office National du Film du Canada) modestly, in small letters, celebrates itself on its site, see address below. Luckily, the upcoming Hotdocs festival rightfully raises the voice and celebrates the unique importance of NFB for the world history of the documentary film.  At the festival that takes place in Toronto April 30-May 10 2009, this is done through a “special program that will bring together some special guest programmers – filmmakers, film professionals and other public figures – to select their favourite NFB documentaries of the past 70 years.”

As a true NFB fan I visited the Montréal studios in 1979 and 1989 to celebrate, and to get inspiration for new distribution and production policies. But also to watch films that would fit in our Danish non-commercial distribution. We had dozens of NFB animation films (Norman McLaren, Caroline Leaf) in the catalogue as well as wonderful important documentaries by Colin Low, Kroitor/Koenig and Michel Brault. When I was asked to pick my favourite for the Hotdocs programme, I started humming “put your hand on my shoulder”, remembering one of the many beautiful scenes from the 1962 Kroitor/Koenig cinema vérité classic with and about Paul Anka, “Lonely Boy”. There are many other “auteurs” to highlight when talking about NFB, and they are not appreciated enough in the “official” documentary history literature, that always goes American and British. One name stands out, Pierre Perrault, the film poet from Quebec.

You can buy dvd’s of NFB films, you can watch some online, it is simply a good old centralised and efficient distribution mechanism, that works.

Share your love
Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

Articles: 3863