Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of this standing committee.
I'll make my presentation both in French and English.
My name is Claude Joli-Coeur, and I am the Assistant Commissioner at the National Film Board of Canada. I am joined by James Roberts, the Assistant Director General of the Accessibility and Digital Enterprises division.
We're very glad to have this opportunity to offer our input for your study on the celebrations being planned for Canada's 150th anniversary.
But first, since it's the first time we have met, I'd like to outline the role of the NFB as an institution, its digital shift, and its involvement in commemorating events of significance to Canadians.
Here is a brief reminder of what the NFB is. It's a federal cultural agency established in 1939 to produce and distribute our regional and innovative audiovisual works that add to our understanding of the issues facing Canadians. These works also raise awareness of Canadian values and viewpoints around the world. We are recognized in particular as a leading producer of documentaries, animated films, and interactive works.
Today, the NFB remains a special organization in a rich and diverse audiovisual world. It is a creative laboratory, a leader in exploring areas the private sector has a difficult time getting involved in. It is also a voice for under-represented Canadians, a fundamental tool for ensuring the vitality of Canada's francophone culture and finally, and most importantly, a leading Canadian innovator in the digital world.
Our audiovisual content is 100% Canadian and reflects the country's diversity. It is available in French and English, and crosses all geographic borders. The NFB has one of the largest audiovisual collections in the world and is an invaluable heritage for all of Canada and the rest of the world.
For a few years now, the transition from analog format to digital format has been among the technological changes transforming the media environment.
Now in our fourth year of our five-year strategic plan, we have become the leading Canadian institution in the area of creative and innovative use of digital media. The shift to digital technology has helped us fulfill our commitment to our audience and once again win over the hearts and minds of Canadians through renewed access to our productions.
NFB.ca or ONF.ca screening rooms were launched in January 2009. They are the cornerstone of the NFB's digital strategy, which aims to provide the majority of Canadians with 24/7 access to the film collection.
Over 2,100 films, excerpts and trailers are available for private viewing free of charge on our website. Since the January 2009 launch, we have so far had almost 27 million viewings of NFB productions on various digital platforms in Canada and abroad. The screening room is also available as a mobile phone application and on platforms such as the iPhone, iPad, as well as the Android and BlackBerry PlayBook platforms.
The NFB also plays a key role by marking events that are significant to Canadian society and presenting them dynamically to Canadians. Here are a few concrete examples of NFB projects that have commemorated major events.
I want to describe those examples to you, since they will give you a solid idea of how the NFB is getting involved in those major events that help strengthen all Canadians' pride and sense of identity.
To mark Quebec City's 400th anniversary, in 2008, the NFB produced an innovative 3D film, Facing Champlain. Thanks to a partnership with the Musée de la civilisation in Quebec City, that film has been streamed daily since 2008. All schools, children and tourists inevitably drop by and watch that NFB production.
We also teamed up with the National Battlefields Commission to mark the 100th anniversary of the Plains of Abraham Battlefield Park with the film My Park, My Plains, which has also been streamed since 2008.
Also, in 2008 we joined the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Defence, Rideau Hall, the Canadian War Museum, and the Royal Canadian Legion to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the armistice. We did a multi-platform project, and our film was screened in schools across the country, theatres, on television, and on the web.
In 2010, we were at the Canada Pavilion during the Shanghai World Exposition. For that occasion, we produced a wonderful movie, which was seen by 6.4 million people. Surveys indicate that this film was seen by the Chinese as a major event to remember Canada by.
In 2010 we explored new ways of celebrating sports in Canada in the context of the Vancouver Olympics.
In partnership with VANOC, we contributed to Canada's first Cultural Olympiad Digital Edition, Canada CODE. It was a national open-source website that let Canadians, wherever they were, help create a collective online portrait or mosaic of the country. This online souvenir album was accessible to everyone and was displayed on sites celebrating the Vancouver Games.
To ensure maximum participation, and especially to introduce young people to new media, the NFB organized over 60 online storytelling workshops in schools and community centres across the country, including in official language minority communities. An educational guide was also produced so that teachers could incorporate Canada CODE into their curriculum.
It is in that spirit that we intend to develop, over the next few years, a number of projects aimed at highlighting historical events that will lead up to the celebration of the 150th anniversary of our Confederation.
Next year we'll be celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. In preparation for the occasion, the NFB is currently working on the souvenir DVD, which will include two well-known films from its collection—Royal Journey, 1951, and Canada at the Coronation, 1953—as well as a new production, The Portrait, where we're filming the painting of the portrait of the Queen, which will be disclosed next year.
The NFB has several projects planned to mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. We are planning to co-produce an interactive project on the Battle of York. A DVD box set containing productions from our collection and an educational project are also in the works.
The Royal 22e Régiment, whose 1914 creation was the determining factor in the integration of francophones within the Canadian Forces, will turn 100 in 2014. We are currently working on a documentary on the regiment in order to commemorate that important anniversary.
In 2014 we'll also commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Second World War and the 100th anniversary of the First World War. The NFB's vast, priceless collection of films about these two global conflicts could be distributed on multiple platforms to mark these anniversaries and help increase public awareness.
The NFB will also turn 75 in 2014, and we have a number of projects planned to mark that anniversary. We intend to get involved in the Pan-American Games Toronto will host in 2015. We also want to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Canadian flag in 2015. Our collection actually contains a special film on the first raising of the flag in 1965.
In 2017 Montreal will celebrate the 375th anniversary of its founding. The NFB has been an active presence in Montreal since 1956, and naturally we'll mark the occasion of this special anniversary.
As for the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we plan to develop a concept akin to Canada CODE, which was tremendously successful at the Vancouver Olympic Games. A mosaic of many audio and visual accounts will provide Canadians with an opportunity to share their part of the country and their vision of Canada in their own way. That vibrant project, created by and for Canadians, will be coming together throughout the celebrations leading up to the anniversary and will be completed at the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
As you can see, the NFB intends to carry out many commemorative projects leading up to the 150th anniversary in 2017. We are prioritizing partnerships with institutions that come under the Department of Canadian Heritage for all those major projects to mark important events in Canadian history. We also intend to work with as many partners as possible in order to make the most of our activities.
The NFB can join ongoing and evolving projects, to which it can add its artistic and technological expertise through new productions. The NFB can also promote films from its collection that will be put together and broadcast to accompany those anniversaries. The NFB has some hidden treasures for each important anniversary, from 2012 to 2017. Those treasures truly reflect our history. It is important to make that available to today's Canadians.
That concludes our presentation.
Thank you very much. We're pleased to discuss all of these projects.