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SECTION II – ANALYSIS OF PROGRAM ACTIVITIES BY STRATEGIC OUTCOME

Strategic Outcome

The NFB's strategic outcome is to produce and make available relevant, ambitious and innovative audiovisual works that give Canadians a deeper understanding of Canada and the world. The NFB is a unique centre for creative excellence that promotes and values participation from the many communities that make up Canada's social fabric. Through the transformative power of its films, the Film Board offers Canadian creators the opportunity to participate in a rich film experience while providing all Canadians with unique points of view that help to foster a national dialogue.

Program Activity 1: Production of Audiovisual Works

The National Film Board produces socially and culturally relevant audiovisual works touching on issues of concern for Canadians. Production activity includes the conceptualization, research, development, production and marketing of documentaries, animation films, new media content and other emerging audiovisual forms.

Financial resources in thousands of dollars


Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
47,467 51,738 46,873

Human Resources


Planned Authority Actual
275 275 207

Expected Outcome

85% of programming involving social issues.

This year, the NFB exceeded its target, with more than 85% of its 155 productions and co-productions exploring major contemporary national and international issues. By encouraging debate and fuelling discussions, these works encourage citizens to take a more active role in their communities and contribute to making Canada an inclusive society. Notable issues of general interest dealt with in NFB productions include Aboriginal culture, environmental challenges, a francophone community's fight to save its local hospital, and the personal journey of a Canadian humanitarian – to cite but a few examples.

In addition, thanks to its expertise and extensive network in the educational market, the NFB is adept at reaching young people in the media of their choice. In the past year, NFB productions touched on a number of issues concerning school-age youth, including the hyper-sexualisation of young girls, violence in sports, multiculturalism and more.

Expected Outcome

Programming with a focus on point-of-view documentaries, animation, alternative fiction and new media.

The NFB has always contributed to creating an environment in which a variety of film genres and formats can thrive. These films provide Canadians with the opportunity to increase their range of cultural experiences. Some of Canada's greatest filmmakers have worked at the NFB, producing films that have shaped Canadian history and culture.

The NFB allows the Brittains, Braults and Jutras of tomorrow to fully develop their talents in an organization recognized internationally for its creative innovation. Today, well-known filmmakers such as Richard Desjardins, Torill Kove and Alanis Obomsawin work alongside newcomers such as velyne and Vince Papatie, Isabelle Lavigne and Stphane Thibault. In 2007-2008, 155 films delivered insights into such themes as the consequences of war, the hospitalization of a close relative and cultural diversity to Canadians, including youth. The 110 point-of-view documentaries and 32 animation films produced by the NFB made a significant contribution to spreading Canadian values, by helping Canadians understand the country's social and cultural realities. While fiction is a genre whose primary function is to entertain, the 13 films produced, including alternative fiction – a genre pioneered by the NFB in the 1980s – offer transformative messages and allow the NFB to reach a broader audience. Finally, the NFB produced 17 works in the new media category, garnering international accolades for its leadership in this genre.

Expected Outcome

Short film policy framework developed.

At a time when short films are gaining popularity thanks to new technologies, the NFB continues its role as a leader in short-form documentary, animation and alternative fiction, encouraging innovation across all formats and platforms. These new avenues are being explored as part of the NFB's mission of supporting emerging filmmakers, an essential aspect of the NFB's role in the film industry.

While the NFB did not develop an official short film policy – as forecast in the 2007-2008 Report on Planning and Priorities – due to a lack of human resources, the Board considered new directions for short films for the future. In addition, the NFB held a number of competitions to encourage the production of shorts, including its partnership with the Short Film Corner/March du Film of the Cannes Film Festival. The NFB makes a major contribution to short film production in Canada, as demonstrated by the 107 films produced by the NFB last year – films like Madame Tutli-Putli, an animated short that has garnered awards at major international events. Finally, the NFB's Web site continues to be the destination of choice for all short film fans.

Expected Outcome

Access to NFB films across Canada.

As a public distributor, the NFB's main objective is to make its new and archival works as accessible as possible to all audiences, in the format of their choice. Improving access to NFB films across Canada is a key part of the Board's support of the Government of Canada's efforts to create a diverse society that promotes linguistic duality and social inclusion. Through its distribution and broadcast channels, the NFB reaches Canadians of all ages and all backgrounds, promoting participation and discussion amongst citizens.

Television remains a primary means for reaching audiences, but new distribution platforms such as the Internet, e-cinema and mobile devices are becoming increasingly important, particularly for young audiences. Our films are also seen at cinemas, festivals and public screenings, as well as in homes, schools and a variety of cultural and social centres.

In 2007-2008, the NFB attracted a viewership of 12 million to its program's 3,400 Canadian broadcasts. In addition, 166,433 people attended public screenings, Web users made 4,982,096 visits to the NFB's many Web sites, and Canadian students participated in the 7,437,888 educational viewings.

Expected Outcome

Produced projects innovative in terms content, form and means of broadcast, with flexibility for experimentation.

For many years, the NFB has been widely recognized for its contribution to worldwide innovations in content, form and technique. The NFB is committed to maintaining its reputation for excellence and leadership by exploring new areas such as digital production, production for new platforms and the use of new animation production technologies. The NFB is also committed to exploring the potential of innovative accessibility and distribution strategies using new media, including the Internet and digital distribution.

The NFB has seen a wealth of achievements in this area over the past year. The NFB increased its line up of products for mobile devices such as iPods, cell phones, handheld video and other digital platforms. It produced stereoscopic animated films, a new art form where the NFB leads the way. As part of Quebec City's 400th anniversary celebrations, the NFB also created a stereoscopic film about Samuel de Champlain in collaboration with the Muse de la Civilisation du Qubec.

The NFB's strength rests on its capacity to combine technological innovation and creative leadership. This was particularly true in 2007-2008 with the launch of one of the North America's first interactive feature films, Late Fragment: an outstanding example of the NFB's commitment to serving as a laboratory for creative innovation in areas where commercial production models do not yet exist. In collaboration with the Canadian Film Centre, the NFB explored the potential of new cinematic forms, ensuring Canada's leadership in this new area. On the animation side, the short film Madame Tutli-Putli was hailed by international critics for its painstaking execution and innovative and original visual techniques, bringing a fantastical world to life.

The NFB's Filmmaker-in-Residence project is another example where the NFB broke new ground in form and content. Working with St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, the NFB placed filmmaker Kat Cizek with front-line hospital workers whose jobs took them beyond the hospital walls into the inner city. Rather than working within a predetermined genre, such as the television documentary, the result was a creative process that defined the form. In this case, it took the form of pioneering online documentary acclaimed around the world, winning new media awards and nominations, including a Banff Rockie, a Webby (the Oscars of the Web world), the Canadian New Media Award and a John Grierson nomination for innovation at the Sheffield Documentary Festival. It was also featured in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association as an example of how creative media can improve lives.

Expected Outcome

Number of national and international co-productions maintained.

The NFB has focused, in recent years, on the development of co-productions with private and public producers in Canada and abroad, with the goal of creating bold and original programming that could not have been created without the NFB. Co-productions allow the NFB to share its extensive creative and technical expertise, and to help the Canadian film industry by participating in financing, risks and opening up new opportunities for Canadian partners. Collaborations such as these contribute to the overall health of the audiovisual sector. In addition, the NFB's international co-productions help communicate Canadian values to countries around the world.

During the last planning period, the NFB almost doubled the total number of its co-productions, from 52 in 2006-2007 to 100 in 2007-2008. This increase is mostly due to the greater number of documentaries produced in partnership with other national and international producers.

Expected Outcome

Number of productions by emerging filmmakers maintained.

As a Canadian public producer and distributor, the NFB has a responsibility to discover and develop new filmmaking talent from all regions of the country. Over the years, the NFB has become an incubator for innovation and talent for young Canadian creators, who will become future pillars of Canada's film industry. NFB programs contribute to a rich learning environment in which mentorship plays an important part, attracting interest from international partners who come to study these programs. The NFB seeks out and encourages emerging filmmakers, supporting experimentation and an enthusiasm for creativity and innovation in Canadian cinema. Young filmmakers who have received training from the NFB contribute to Canada's innovation and knowledge economy.

For the third consecutive year, more than 93 NFB productions and co-productions were directed by first-time filmmakers. This is a direct result of a range of programs and initiatives the organization has put in place to serve emerging filmmakers, including those from diverse cultural backgrounds, official-language minority groups and Aboriginal communities.

 

Program Activity 2: Distribution of Audiovisual Works

The NFB is also mandated to distribute its works as widely as possible to Canadian and foreign audiences. Through its vast network of distribution activities, the NFB cooperates strategically with public and private sectors in Canada and abroad in order to make its collection available to all Canadians as well as film lovers the world over.

Financial resources in thousands of dollars


Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
2,398 2,502 2,492

Human Resources


Planned Authority Actual
45 45 50

Expected Outcome

Optimizing revenues in order to contribute to the success of the Canadian film and television industry.

As at March 31, 2008, total revenues slightly increased (4%) from 6,611,532 in 2006-2007 to 6,863,942 in 2007-2008. This small increase in revenue was achieved despite a drop in television sales (5%), due both to the number of co-productions produced by the NFB in 2007-2008 as well as the transition of the marketplace towards digital platforms. National and international documentary markets have also been affected by audience fragmentation and consolidation. Other factors to take into account include the rise in the Canadian dollar, which has a negative impact on revenue generated in foreign currency, and a drop in stock footage sales (5%) resulting from a decrease in documentary production budgets. The decrease in television sales was offset however by increases in the consumer sales (7%), theatrical distribution revenues as well as revenues generated by sponsored productions and presales.

Expected Outcome

Acquisition of more productions that complement the NFB catalogue.

With its acquisitions policy, the NFB seeks distribution rights for Canadian and foreign documentaries and animation films, both one-offs and series. By acting as a distributor for these films, the NFB makes its expertise in the distribution of social documentaries, experimental works and animation films available to private producers in Canada and abroad. The number of series or one-off films acquired for distribution experienced a slight decline, from 24 in 2006-2007 to 22 in 2007-2008.

Decisions to acquire productions and series are based on an evaluation of their commercial sales potential in television and educational markets worldwide, as well as their pertinence to the NFB's collection and mandate. Works acquired last year were either animated films such as Paradise, socially relevant documentaries exploring health issues like Quebec Under the Influence, documentaries about international conflict and peace and global environmental issues, or educational content for young people such as the film This is My body: A Film by High School Girls.

 

Program Activity 3: Access and Outreach

Access and outreach activities connect Canadians with relevant media resources that foster citizen engagement and lifelong learning. In this way, the NFB maximizes the use of its extensive NFB collection in various primary and secondary learning channels, creating new networks where none exist, enabling media literacy for all Canadians and encouraging Canadians to make full use of the NFB collection.

Financial resources in thousands of dollars


Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
13,603 13,892 13,974

Human Resources


Planned Authority Actual
110 110 138

Expected Outcome

Improved access to the NFB collection through the NFB's various activities and offerings, particularly the mediatheques and other resources.

In order to make its works available to all Canadians in all provinces and territories, the NFB has established a large distribution network with links to partners in the public sector (such as public and school libraries), community organizations and private-sector businesses (such as distribution companies, catalogue houses, theatre chains and video clubs, etc.) Productions are regularly broadcast on traditional and specialty channels, and screened at the NFB's modern mediatheques in Montreal and Toronto, providing access to thousands of titles in the NFB collection.

In 2007-2008, the CineRobotheque and Mediatheque welcomed just over 205,000 visitors, a decrease of 5,000 compared to the previous year. Although attendance was down slightly, the many activities offered by the CineRobotheque and Mediatheque continue to be very popular with young people and school groups, especially the NFB's animation workshops.

Through its partnership with public libraries and its public screenings across Canada, the NFB reaches Canadians, fostering exchanges and encouraging debate on the issues that matter to the country. Over the past year, more than 166,000 people attended 3,407 screening sessions organized in commercial, repertory and community theatres. The 48 public library partners across Canada also contributed to the distribution of NFB films.

Expected Outcome

Continued digitization of the NFB collection.

The NFB intends to ensure that its collection is accessible to future generations, in the formats of their choice. Over the last five years, the NFB has undertaken a range of projects to digitize parts of its collection, with close to 36% of the collection digitized in one form or another. It is vital that a national strategy be developed by the federal government to ensure that all publicly supported Canadian works remain available to future generations of Canadians.

The NFB continued its digitization efforts during the year, with 986 titles transferred to digital platforms (uncompressed digital video files), and 10 titles and 20 excerpts produced for mobile digital devices, as well as 415 clips produced for Web. In addition, 42 titles were made available through the e-cinema library, more than 675 hours of stock shots were digitized and 1,093 titles were made available on DVD.

Expected Outcome

Strong presence of NFB productions in Canada's community and educational distribution networks.

Maintaining the NFB's presence in Canadians' lives remains a constant challenge requiring renewed efforts. To rekindle and enhance our relationship with Canadians, the NFB has put in place projects that promote access to its collection and encourage dialogue with citizens. New production technologies and multimedia distribution will enable the NFB to meet this challenge. With the e-cinema pilot project, which brings this digital platform to the official-language minority Acadian population, the NFB has laid the foundation for future programs targeting Canada's many diverse communities, including those in isolated regions.

The NFB is increasingly anchored in the educational sector through its distribution and network development strategies, which include offering NFB works to educational publishers' catalogues. Thematic and specialized workshops about animation as well as other areas of NFB expertise are available to students as well as the general public. Specialized workshops for educators are also offered, tied to professional events such as educational conferences. What's more, the Educational Resources section of the NFB's Web site offers students, teachers, parents and others a wealth of educational material, tools and resources, available at no charge.

One of the NFB's most significant and successful films in the educational market in 2007-2008 was Sexy inc. Like the previous NFB work The Weight of the World, this film touches on themes of great concern to young people of school age. Aimed at parents and teachers who are dealing with young people, the film is a call for action against an unhealthy culture created by media and marketing, providing a great way to generate discussion and awareness. The bilingual DVD comes with a Teacher Guide, accessible online, designed by a team of professionals to foster discussions with young people about this topic.

 

Program Activity 4: Research and Advisory Services

The NFB is mandated to "to engage in research in film activity and to make available the results thereof to persons engaged in the production of films" as well as "to advise the Governor in Council in connection with film activities." Research and advisory services are understood to relate to the production and distribution of films and the film industry, as well as developing and undertaking technical projects to further the art and science of cinema. The NFB has always created a space for excellence and innovation, incubating new technologies and developing prototypes in partnership with industry as well as opening new avenues for creativity in the audiovisual field.

Financial resources in thousands of dollars


Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
3,650 3,833 7,828

Human Resources


Planned Authority Actual
70 70 98

Expected Outcome

Appreciable research and development efforts related to techniques and technology in the audiovisual field.

Since its inception, the NFB has been an incubator for technological and cinematographic innovation, both nationally and internationally. The NFB has always been a pioneering organization exploring the boundaries of film, and it remains true to that tradition today. Although the NFB's financial resources devoted to research and development have been steadily decreasing for the past few years and the percentage of its budget going towards R&D projects is less than similar organizations, the NFB continues to be recognized as a leader in creative innovation. In addition to advising government and industry through the participation of the Commissioner in Canadian Heritage and CRTC committees on new media, as well as private sector panels, the NFB also undertakes technical and developmental projects to advance film science and art. These activities are part of the NFB's commitment to excellence and innovation, and to developing and implementing new initiatives.

Expected Outcome

Maintain the NFB's role as a benchmark in filmmaking.

The NFB contributes to the development of new audiovisual technologies. The expertise of its technical staff is widely recognized and is the envy of its Canadian and international partners. The NFB's excellence in this area allows the Board to assist its many partners in their research, in production, distribution and archival management, as well as helping emerging artists acquire essential experience.

In 2007-2008, the NFB has undertaken a number of initiatives confirming its reputation as a hotbed of creativity in the production and distribution of original and innovative media content. A new digital distribution pilot project led by the NFB was launched in five Acadian francophone communities, giving smaller centres access to a large collection of films from the NFB.

The Streaming Project which began in the last fiscal period aims to make the NFB's rich and extensive collection more accessible to Canadians through the design and development of an easy-to-use, effective way of accessing NFB films online. This project will support other NFB initiatives in the digital realm, from generating revenues online to connecting more effectively with remote communities.

The NFB is at the forefront of stereoscopic content creation with projects like Facing Champlain, a Work in 3 Dimensions, produced as part of the celebrations for Quebec City's 400th anniversary. The production cleverly melds drama and animation in a spectacular three-dimensional work. In demonstrating the impressive possibilities of stereoscopic cinema to professionals and public alike, the NFB has made an important contribution to advancing this new technology.