Joined: 14 Nov 2003
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|National Film Board Of Canada Supports FOF Mandate!
By Maurice Ali, Journalist
Silva Basmajian, Executive Producer - Ontario Centre/English Program in Ontario presents a box of miniDV tapes to Maurice Ali, President and CEO: FOF Inc./IAIJ Inc.
Toronto, Canada - It was a warm sunny day this June 20th, 2007 when I arrived at the provincial head office of the National Film Board Of Canada. I came as a result of an invitation to discuss NFB programs and to take a firsthand look at the people and facility and to ask some tough questions. I left with NFB support of our mandate to provide audio/video access to disadvantaged people and a supply of miniDV tape to help make it happen. Here is how it all began.
The person I was to meet was Silva Basmajian, the Executive Producer - Ontario Centre/English Program in Ontario. She certainly has many credentials as this quote from the NFB website will attest to:
"Silva Basmajian has worked as a producer, writer and researcher on more than 50 productions and has won more than 38 awards for her films — including a Peabody Award in 2001 for My Father's Camera and the 2001 WIFT Outstanding Achievement Award for personal achievement. She garnered a 2004 Genie nomination for the feature documentary The Last Round: Chuvalo vs. Ali, which also won the Special Jury Award at Hot Docs in 2003.
Silva has also been awarded the prestigious Donald Brittain award for Best Social/Political Documentary for Deep Inside Clint Star at the 2000 Gemini Awards, and has received the Special Jury Prize at Banff Television Festival for Rape: A Crime of War. Her films have broadcast in every major country, and premiered at 183 international film festivals around the world.
Silva's recent projects include Insomnia, directed by Annette Mangaard; Pegi Nicol Mcleod, directed by Michael Osteroff; The Take (a co-production with Klein Lewis Productions and Barna Alper) and The Call, about the exploitation of young Black women in music videos, by first-time director (and 2003 NFB Reel Diversity Competition winner) Elizabeth St-Phillip."
The National Film Board Of Canada was established in 1939 primarily to create propaganda to support involvement in WW2. Since then, the organization has evolved into a rather autonomous entity producing Oscar winning productions and scores of other awards. As stated on the NFB website:
“The NFB's mandate is to produce and distribute distinctive, culturally diverse, challenging and relevant audiovisual works that provide Canada and the world with a unique Canadian perspective.”
I arrived at the NFB offices located in the trendy Queen Street West area late in the afternoon. One is immediately impressed with the building the NFB occupies. On the ground floor is a rather futuristic collection of digital viewing stations called "Mediatheque" where anyone can view NFB films for up to ninety minutes at a time. Silva's office was located on the third floor. Those offices - by the way - are festooned with posters and awards (many of which have Silva's name engraved in them as producer). Silva invited me to her office which she claims has an open door policy where anyone can come by and discuss issues of importance to themselves and the NFB. She also keeps her office door open as a symbolic gesture of her open door policy.
Ok, our interview began. I had applied as an experiment to see whether the NFB programs were truly accessible to the general public and small time filmmakers as FOF supports those types of initiatives. I enquired about how the selection of films to these very competitive programs were done to assure fairness and accessibility to all. She replied by showing me many of the people who are involved in those selections who populate those third floor offices. The staff were a racially diverse collection of pleasant people and one would therefore assume that any biasses would be mitigated or eliminated in such a group. There was enough evidence here for me to stop further investigation of their methods and move on.
The actual awards were few and applicants many, and I told Silva at this time that FOF was actually not interested in money or in anyway depriving any of the applicants or other filmmakers of that type of support. We were there to see how things operated and to see if the NFB would support organizations such as ours who produce programming for the access of disadvantaged people. Silva answered some very tough questions diplomatically and the replies answered all objections. It was obvious that she was proud of the NFB and constantly showed me many programs at the NFB and how that organization helped small time filmmakers. When Silva heard of these similar initiatives on our part, and request to the NFB for any non-monetary support, she left the office and returned with a supply of miniDV tapes to be used for such initiatives. The photo at the beginning of this article is of Silva handing me over a box of those tapes. The unhesitating nature of her offer and her high ranking position with the NFB was a welcome surprise to me and a major endorsement of the NFB and their support to small time filmmakers and disadvantaged people trying to access the mass media.
The National Film Board Of Canada, Silva Basmajian and the rest of the staff at this prestigious organization are to be congratulated in their commitment to high quality films showcasing Canadians and Canadian culture to the world; and to their support of small time filmmakers and access to disadvantaged people to partake in filmmaking. I, Maurice Ali and the rest of our organization thank the National Film Board Of Canada for their support of our organization's mandate to bring accessible audio/visual programs to disadvantaged people in our community! Once again, we thank you!
Fortress Of Freedom Inc. is a multi-media corporation specializing in media access to the general public. We are a non-political, non-religious organization that is available to all. We are recognized by the Canadian Government as a book publisher, music producer and publisher, and film and television producer recognized by the CRTC with programing that meets the requirements of "Canadian Program." We are presently affiliated with SOCAN, CMRRA, ASCAP and BMI in music production and regular contributors to The National Library Of Canada in book publishing. Fortress Of Freedom Inc. is an equal opportunity employer.
NFB offices at 150 John Street here in Toronto, Ontario.