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Thursday, April 12, 2012

After the serious cuts to the CBC and Telefilm, the National Film Board has had to announce it is closing its offices in Toronto and Ontario.

The National Film Board is responsible for funding quite a few short films that have gone to the Oscars. The NFB office on St. Denis and Maisonneuve includes the Ciné-Robothèque, where you can view any of thousands of films the NFB has funded over the years. Many of them are hard to see anywhere else. For example, when I was researching a comedy set among the Inuit, I was able to walk in and see documentaries from the 1950's about the traditional Inuit way of life, showing the dogsleds and the igloos.

Some of these films are available at the Bibliothèque Nationale, but most aren't. In other words, the NFB is the place in Montreal where Canada's audiovisual heritage lives. Er, lived.

I have no idea what they're going to do with all those video stations. I imagine they'll have to sell them off for nothing or junk them. So if a progressive government comes in after four or five years, it will cost a bundle to replace them.

The Conservatives seem to think that Canadian culture is overfunded. In a country that still subsidizes men to go out on the ice and bash seals to death, I'm not convinced that slashing film and television supports should be where the cuts are made. Culture attracts brainpower. Culture attracts tourists.

But let's set aside for a moment all the benefits that places like the NFB and Telefilm have brought Canada (e.g. Canadian movies at the Oscars, Jessica Paré). Strictly as a business proposition, cultural subsidies attract highly mobile entertainment investments which then ricochet around the economy. The seal hunters aren't going to transplant themselves to Brazil if the Canadian Navy doesn't take care of them. But filmmakers and game makers are in a global market. Canada's loss will be someone else's gain.

So this is a damn shame.

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2 Comments:

sigh. i used to work at the nfb in toronto, and they ran an extremely tight ship. a hundred times more frugal than the private-sector broadcaster i worked for. shame, shame, shame.

By Blogger smartygirl, at 3:13 PM  

What? Alex Epstein - the Alex Epstein - is a Canadian? I'm shocked, shoked!

But, frankly, from my days of living in Montreal, I remember the Maisonneuve NFB building... Not a pretty structure, but some people were coimng and going there. I wish the Quebec nationalists at least bought the darn thing with the viewing stations and the like.

I suspect it could be bought for peanuts.

By Blogger anvor, at 10:05 AM  

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