NFB Kids: Portrayals of Children by the National Film Board of Canada 1939-89

NFB Kids: Portrayals of Children by the National Film Board of Canada 1939-89

NFB Kids: Portrayals of Children by the National Film Board of Canada 1939-89

NFB Kids: Portrayals of Children by the National Film Board of Canada 1939-89

Synopsis

Imagine a society that exists solely in cinema - this book explores exactly that.

Using a half-century of films from the archival collection of the National Film Board, NFB Kids: Portrayals of Children by the National Film Board of Canada, 1939-1989 overcomes a long-standing impasse about what films may be credibly said to document. Here they document not "reality," but social images preserved over time - the "NFB Society" - an evolving, cinematic representation of Canadian families, schools and communities.

During the postwar era, this society-in-cinema underwent a profound change in its child rearing and schooling philosophies, embracing "modern" notions based upon principles espoused by the American mental hygiene movement. Soon after the introduction of these psychological principles into NFB homes in 1946 and schools in 1956, there was a subtle transformation in adult-child relations, which progressively, over time, narrowed the gulf of power between generations and diminished the socializing roles of the NFB parents and teachers.

NFB Kids is a pioneering study within a new field of academic research - "cinema ethnography." It adds to the growing body of knowledge about the function, and the considerable impact of, psychiatry and psychology in the post-war social reconstruction of Canadian society and social history. It will be of interest to academics over a broad spectrum of disciplines and to anyone thinking about the advancing arbitrary power of the cinematic state.

Excerpt

Hence, by a simple juxtaposition of a series of preserved
images and a commentary relating the story vividly, a
chapter of contemporary history is recreated.

— Marjory McKay, “The Motion Picture: a Mirror of
Time,” nfb Annual Report, 1958-1959

Imagine a society that exists solely in cinema, inhabiting urban, suburban, and rural scenes in more than eight thousand films, a society preserved for a half-century in film emulsion (the cinematic equivalent of amber) and so well preserved that every individual and every family, every group, social organization, and institution, every sight, sound, and movement, every social relationship and social practice, every social issue, social goal, and social transformation exists still. Such a society exists; it is preserved by the archives of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB).

Since its genesis in 1939, this society in celluloid has been amassing an evolving cinematic representation of Canadian society, its patterns of social development anchored physically, socially, and intellectually to the socio-historical development of Canadian society and the state. in fact, “NFB society” has inherited much of the coherency of post-1930s Canadian social history and accurately mirrors a myriad of the nation’s wartime and postwar social courses.

Notes to chapter 1 are on p. 235.

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