How does propaganda shape our image of ourselves? How does government use propaganda to sway a nation’s opinion and influence a people’s support?
Come on out to the Creston Valley Public Library’s screening of the National Film Board’s Shameless Propaganda on Oct. 4, to see the role the documentary genre has played in forming our national self-image.
The National Film Board of Canada was created in 1939 by the William Lyon Mackenzie King government with the express purpose of garnering national support for Canada entering the Second World War. Released in 2014, Shameless Propaganda is filmmaker Robert Lower’s take on the boldest and most compelling propaganda effort in NFB history, in which its founding commissioner, John Grierson, saw the documentary as a “hammer to shape society”. At the film’s centre is Englishman Grierson, summoned to Canada by Mackenzie King and charged with the task of convincing Canadians they lived in a country worth fighting for.
Lower watched 500 films produced by the NFB until 1945 in preparing to write, direct, narrate and edit the film — a passion project that was carefully constructed over several years. All 500 films are distilled here for the essence of their message to Canadians. Using only these films and still photos from that era, Lower recreates the picture of Canada the government mouthpiece NFB gave us and looks in it for the Canada we know today. What he finds is by turns enlightening, entertaining, and unexpectedly disturbing.
Robert Lower has been editing, writing and occasionally directing film for more than 40 years, largely in his native Winnipeg, Man. Active with the NFB in the late ’70s and ’80s, he veered into drama for a decade before returning to documentaries in the late ’90s. He has been going back and forth between the genres ever since. Recent documentary writing and editing credits include The Devil’s Brigade, Ballet Girls, Ballet High, 40 Years of One Night Stands, The Nature of Things — Mysteries of the Deep and The Nature of Things — Surviving The Teenage Brain.
See Shameless Propaganda at the Creston Valley Public Library at 2 p.m. Oct. 4. Admission is free. Running time is 78 minutes. For more information, call the library at 250-428-4141.
—CRESTON VALLEY PUBLIC LIBRARY