Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Imagining Resistance: Visual Culture and Activism in Canada

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Imagining Resistance: Visual Culture and Activism in Canada

Article excerpt

J. Keri Cronin and Kirsty Robertson (eds), Imagining Resistance: Visual Culture and Activism in Canada (Waterloo, ON: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2011), 294 pp. Paper. $39.95. ISBN 978-1-55458-257-0.

Thomas Waugh, Michael Brendan Baker and Ezra Winton (eds), Challenge for Change: Activist Documentary at the National Film Board of Canada (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010), 574 pp. 69 b&w photos. Cased. $105. ISBN 978-0-7735-3662-3. Paper. $34.95. ISBN 978-0-7735-3663-0.

It is interesting that two accounts of Canadian cultural activism have emerged at the same moment, along with - or perhaps as a reaction to - a particularly conservative period in Canadian political history. Both books document important times, productions and cultural producers in engaging ways. Each is composed of an array of case studies. This approach provides a very effective way to make the material vivid for students and other readers. The various debates and discussions will undoubtedly stimulate continuing discussion and debate.

Challenge for Change is a long overdue portrait of the internationally influential National Film Board of Canada (NFB) programme that fostered a body of activist documentary film on a stunning scale, with innovative filmmakers, subjects and approaches. This substantial volume provides an ambitious overview of one of the pivotal projects in Canadian cultural histor y. It is packed with short accounts, both analytical and anecdotal, by participants in, and obser vers of, Challenge for Change. It opens with a discussion between Ezra Winton and Naomi Klein. Klein's prominence and presence is itself a statement of the continuing impact of Challenge for Change. She is the activist- filmmaker daughter of one of the programme's most distinguished activist-filmmakers, Bonnie Sherr Klein. Both mother and daughter are actively engaged in filmmaking today. While probably best known for Not a Love Story, Bonnie Sherr Klein's recent work packs as much punch, or even more. Her 2009 film The Art of Disability is an intimate, searching, reflective, funny and powerful look at people's experiences of disability, including her own. …

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