Hundreds of films available for streaming. For free. No ads. No registration. And best of all, no commercial crap. Welcome to the new NFB.ca.
The website of the National Film Board of Canada has morphed from boring to bountiful, becoming an treasure trove of content freely available to everyone across the globe. As of today there are hundreds of full works available on the site, including documentaries, feature films, and animation, for which the NFB is world renowned.
The library of films spans over six decades, and much of it, perhaps even the majority, is political in nature. While it would be nearly impossible to choose my favourites, the least I can do is offer a few suggestions for videos that you definitely must check out.
Toys (Grant Munro, 1966)
This stop-motion animation takes a dark look into the war toys often given to children at Christmas time. Starting off as harmless objects, the toys quickly take on the gestures of real soldiers, mimicking the actions and penalties of a real war. This critical commentary on war and glamorized violence creates a real and frightening battle.
Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (Alanis Obomsawin, 1993)
When the 1990 Oka conflict broke out, I was nine years old, my eyes glued to the news coverage on a tiny TV in my family’s pop-up camper. And although I remember this conflict between the Mohawks, the Quebec police, and the Canadian army like it was yesterday, Alanis Obomsawin’s documentary on the struggle is powerful account of an important chapter in the history of aboriginal struggle.
Carts of Darkness (Murray Siple, 2008)
One of the site’s latest offerings, this doc follows a group of homeless men who have combined bottle picking with the extreme sport of racing shopping carts down the steep hills of North Vancouver.
Behind the Swastika: Nazi Atrocities (1945)
The NFB was, in part, created to produce government propaganda during WW2. This short film is a classic example of what the institution was up to in its early years.
Blablok (Bretislav Pojar, 1972)
The human phenomenon of resorting to violence is explored in this award-winning animation. Merry cubes live happily amongst themselves until one of them encounters a ball. The cubes and balls war over their differences, and the peace they find is cute and comic, yet fleeting.
(Full disclosure: I am a former employee of the NFB.)