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The Vimy Foundation and the National Film Board of Canada partner on Return to Vimy. First time the NFB has colourized its own archives for a film project—revealing previously unseen material in century-old films from the Great War.


November 2 – Toronto – To commemorate the Centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the Vimy Foundation and the National Film Board of Canada have partnered to launch a new original short film entitled Return to Vimy, written, directed and produced by Denis McCready.

Starting November 7, Canadians of all ages can watch this 9-minute film online at NFB.ca and Vimyfoundation.ca, as well as at 17 Cineplex Entertainment cinemas across Canada, where it will be shown for one day only along with the re-release of Paul Gross’s feature drama Passchendaele.

Return to Vimy uses an evocative format, interweaving colourized archives and animated sequences to tell the story of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces’ efforts during the First World War. Inspired by the pilgrimage of thousands of yearly visitors to the Vimy Memorial, this is the first time the NFB has colourized its own archives for a film project, utilizing a digital-transfer process that revealed previously unseen material among these century-old films from the Great War.

In the film, a young Canadian woman visits the Vimy Memorial, bringing with her a notebook of sketches and diary entries that her great-grandfather made during months of preparation to take back Vimy Ridge. These sketches transform into colourized archival live-action footage, transporting us back in time to witness the daily lives of soldiers in the Canadian Corps, bringing to life the long and detailed preparations that led to this legendary battle.

Produced by the NFB in partnership with the Vimy Foundation, Return to Vimy aims to re-engage Canadians, especially youth, with Canada’s First World War history. Black-and-white photography and cinematography can often be a barrier for modern audiences; this new colourized footage will bring Canadians of today closer to the men and women who sacrificed so much, more than one hundred years ago.

“Many Canadians today see the First World War through a series of faded black-and-white photos and grainy video footage, disconnected from their modern reality,” said Jeremy Diamond, Executive Director of the Vimy Foundation. “Colourizing these events brings a new focus to our understanding and appreciation of Canada’s giant event during the First World War. Return to Vimy is a new look at Canada’s role in the First World War and we are confident this footage and this story will resonate with all Canadians, but especially youth, as they attempt to connect to the stories of War a century later.”

— Jeremy Diamond, Executive Director, The Vimy Foundation

Return to Vimy combines innovative storytelling and advancements in digital colourization to breathe new life into archival materials and bring this pivotal moment in Canadian history back to life for audiences of all ages. As Canada’s public producer, we’ve been telling our country’s stories and sharing our history since 1939—during times of peace as well as on the frontlines when Canada has been in combat. Return to Vimy joins an important collection of over 600 titles on the two world wars and other major conflicts, including more than 150 online works, accessible at NFB.ca.”

— Claude Joli-Coeur, Government Film Commissioner and NFB Chairperson

The Vimy Foundation is a registered charity founded in 2006. The mission of the Vimy Foundation is to preserve and promote Canada’s First World War legacy as symbolized with the victory of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917 – a milestone when Canada earned its place on the world stage. To learn more, visit www.vimyfoundation.ca.


Quick Facts

  • The film is part of the Vimy Foundation’s First World War in Colour project, supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage.
  • The film marks the first time the NFB has colourized footage from its own archival collection.
  • During the restoration process, new, never-before-seen elements of the frames were discovered by the NFB.
  • The film’s director, writer and producer, Denis McCready, assembled an impressive team to collaborate on the project, including Sylvain Bellemare, who recently won an Oscar in Sound Editing for the film Arrival, and Cannes Film Festival nominee and multi-award-winning NFB animation filmmaker Claude Cloutier (director of The Trenches).

First World War in Colour

The Vimy Foundation

Communications & Administrative Coordinator
T: 416.595.1917 ext. 6

Media Relations

  • About the NFB

    Founded in 1939, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is a one-of-a-kind producer, co-producer and distributor of distinctive, engaging, relevant and innovative documentary and animated films. As a talent incubator, it is one of the world’s leading creative centres. The NFB has enabled Canadians to tell and hear each other’s stories for over eight decades, and its films are a reliable and accessible educational resource. The NFB is also recognized around the world for its expertise in preservation and conservation, and for its rich and vibrant collection of works, which form a pillar of Canada’s cultural heritage. To date, the NFB has produced more than 14,000 works, 6,500 of which can be streamed free of charge at nfb.ca. The NFB and its productions and co-productions have earned over 7,000 awards, including 11 Oscars and an Honorary Academy Award for overall excellence in cinema.