250 FILMMAKERS SIGN LETTER PROTESTING AGAINST NFB MANAGEMENT

Some of Canada’s top filmmakers believe the National Film Board has lost its way creatively and that its senior executives are mismanaging the Montreal-based public film studio.

Claude Joli-Coeur, Government Film Commissioner and head of the National Film Board, dismisses the criticism of filmmakers. He'si seen Thursday, July 4, 2019, at the NFB studio in Montreal. PIERRE OBENDRAUF / MONTREAL GAZETTE

Some of Canada’s top filmmakers believe the National Film Board has lost its way creatively and that its senior executives are mismanaging the Montreal-based public film studio.

The filmmakers say NFB film budgets have declined by 56 per cent during the past 15 years while spending on non-filmmaker salaries at the board has increased 21 per cent during the same period. In addition, during that time, they allege there has been a 45-per-cent increase in spending on institutional, legal and human-resources services.

But it’s not just money. These filmmakers think Government Film Commissioner Claude Joli-Coeur — who is in essence the CEO of the NFB — has lost touch with the federal film studio’s core mission. That’s why when federal Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez renewed Joli-Coeur’s mandate for another three years late last week, they finally decided to go public with their complaints. He was first appointed head of the NFB in 2014.

Last week, they made public a letter of protest they wrote to Rodriguez in January, signed by 250 filmmakers. The group is called NFB/ONF Création.

The group of filmmakers has several Oscar winners who have worked with the NFB, including Academy Award-winning animators Chris Landreth, Alison Snowden, David Fine and Torill Kove.

“There’s no precise articulate vision that includes directors and creators,” said documentary filmmaker Philippe Baylaucq in a phone interview Thursday. “Directors are not part of the structure. You can’t have an institution whose main purpose is to create films and not have a healthy dialogue with those that imagine them, make them, design them.”

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