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Canada’s National Film Board January 23, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Diving Books and Films.
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2 days ago the National Film Board of Canada made 700 titles available through streaming video (and some, if not all for sale on DVD) across a wide range of topics and dating from the inception of the institution in 1939 to the present. Initially formed to support the war effort, the Film Board went on to gain an international reputation for creativity in animation, documentaries and other forms of Cinema with a strong emphasis on Canadian history, commerce, environment and geography.

There are two connections I can make to the topic of this blog. The first is that there are many films that include diving or underwater topics, including two that are collaborations with Jacques-Yves Cousteau, neither of which are listed in the Wikipedia film credits of Cousteau. The first film I noticed using a search feature called “Getting Around” featuring air travel, scuba diving (Cape Breton’s Dolphin Skin Diving Club) and canoeing. There were some stills of the Scuba Diving sequence on the site, though, like the one above.

The second connection is that while my wife and I were on our first visit to Cuba we became acquainted with Sydney C. Newman, who worked for the Film Board during World War II and was its Chairman from 1970 until 1975. He was also responsible for the creation of the BBC series Dr. Who and The Avengers, two of my favourite TV shows as a child. I still clearly remember seeing the first Dr. Who episode in the early sixties, although while the show has continued for decades, I am no longer a fan. As for The Avengers, I’m afraid that Uma Thurman has forever ruined my admiration for Mrs. Peel.

Mr. Newman, born in 1917, was quiet old by that time and hadn’t taken good care of himself. His wife had died in 1981 and he was travelling with a woman we suspected was a paid companion. She was a very tolerant person as he was a feisty old character, but was an interesting personality and great to talk to. He greatly admired my wife’s backstroke while we exercised in the pool, and given his advanced years I did mind at all. I’m glad I didn’t know the full extent of his celebrity at the time, as it would probably have spoiled things. My wife had also just finished the book A Good Man in Africa by William Boyd and recommended it to him, and he finally read it after his companion had also read and recommended it. He passed away in 1997 of a heart attack.

Some NFB films that are available on the site that might be interesting to divers are:

I haven’t watched any of these yet, but when I do there’ll be reviews posted here. Right now I’m still trying to catch up with all the TED videos I’ve downloaded into iTunes, and I still have a couple of months to go before doing that.

The Film Board is going to add 100 more titles to the collection within the next 6 months, that will make 800 of their 13,000 title library available. After that, they promise 10 per month. I wish they would go a little faster but I’m grateful for what they’re doing.

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