April 20, 2017 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
We stand on guard for thee. These are the words that ring through the air at the end of our national anthem.
It’s also the inspiration for What We Protect, the latest installment of the National Film Board of Canada’s 1 Nation. 4 Lenses, part of its special online programming for the 150th anniversary of Confederation (#Canada150).
What We Protect brings together works from the NFB’s storied archives that reflect what we strive to protect as a nation―and in recognition of Earth Day, April 22, includes a special playlist exploring Canada’s environment.
From asylum seekers arriving in Canada to escape homophobic violence to members of the Haisla Nation trying to protect a vital link to their ancestral heritage, how we respond to environmental, cultural, social, and human rights issues goes a long way in defining who we are.
Films and interactive works
Three feature-length documentaries are featured as part of What We Protect. Acclaimed Indigenous filmmaker Gil Cardinal’s Totem: The Return of the G’psgolox Pole documents the successful efforts of the Haisla Nation to repatriate their traditional mortuary pole, taken from their community back in 1929. Acadian director Paul-Émile d’Entremont’s Last Chance follows the stories of five asylum seekers who flee their native countries to escape homophobic violence, while Montreal’s Paul Cowan garners unprecedented access to a UN peacekeeping mission trying to avert a humanitarian disaster in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in The Peacekeepers (NFB/13 Production/ARTE France).
Also selected is the interactive documentary This Land, in which Dianne Whelan accompanies a military expedition to the northernmost tip of Canada to plant the flag, and Twice upon a Time/Il était deux fois, Giles Walker’s humorous short poking fun at Canadian bilingualism.
In honour of Earth Day and #Canada150, the NFB is curating 10 acclaimed films from its collection exploring Canada’s environment and the challenges it faces, in every corner of this vast and varied land:
- Faced with the worrisome reality of monocropping in PEI, Millefiore Clarkes’s Island Green asks: What if Canada’s smallest province went organic?
- Director Jacques Gagné and pioneering naturalist Jacques Cousteau journey up the St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes aboard the Calypso, in Lawrence: Stairway to the Sea.
- In Hole Story, Richard Desjardins and Robert Monderie provide an essential look at how mining is practised in this country.
- Cry of the Wild is acclaimed filmmaker and conservationist Bill Mason’s classic 1972 film, which helped change the way we view wolves.
- Co-directed by Leanne Allison and Diana Wilson, Being Caribou follows Allison and her husband, Karsten Heuer, on a 1,500-kilometre trek along with 120,000 caribou, to explore the consequences of oil and gas development in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
- Scott Parker’s A Rancher’s View shows how cattle are now seen as part of the conservation solution in southern Saskatchewan’s Grasslands National Park.
- Sun, Wind and Wood is Dorothy Todd Hénaut’s 1978 look at people developing their own alternative sources of energy.
- In Never Lose Sight, Sarah McNair-Landry documents grassroots efforts to meet Iqaluit’s trash problem, with the community’s two dumps filled beyond capacity.
- Kaj Pindal and Les Drew’s Oscar-nominated 1966 animated short What on Earth! takes a comical look at car culture through the eyes of bemused Martians.
- Teresa Marshall and Craig Berggold offer up a personal look at Canada’s unique “pocket desert,” nestled in BC’s dry interior, in Pocket Desert: Confessions of a Snake Killer.
Previous and upcoming chapters
What We Call Home, the first installment of 1 Nation. 4 Lenses, was launched online at NFB.ca on February 20. It will be followed by What We Seek (June) and What We Fight For (September).
What We Protect
Special playlist exploring Canada’s environment