In light of recent restructuring at the National Film Board of Canada – especially as it relates to the Northwest Studio and regional representation, AMPIA has had an initial discussion with Richard Cormier, Stefanie L’Ecuyer and Shirley Vercuysse at the NFB. We have been advised that the Northwest Studio will continue to operate with NFB Producers there as outlined in the letter below. AMPIA raised concerns on behalf of the membership and will be hosting an event early in the New Year to allow members to have direct communication with the NFB. We will let you know what those dates will be in the weeks to come
For those of you who don’t know me, in August 2023 I was appointed Director General, Programming, Creation, Distribution and Marketing, and Head of Programming for the NFB, responsible for the NFB’s national programming vision and objectives, ensuring that the NFB remains a nationally and internationally acclaimed organization.
On Monday, December 11 we made an announcement regarding an administrative change to our organizational structure—one that was arrived at after much consultation and careful deliberation.
Unfortunately, there have been some misinterpretations circulating and I hope this message will help to reassure everybody.
As announced, David Christensen and Rohan Fernando will be leaving the NFB. David was with us for many years, most notably as executive producer—a position to which he was named in 2007. The NFB produced many noteworthy films with him during his tenure, including nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up, by Tasha Hubbard, Supreme Law, directed by Katerina Cizek, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril’s Angry Inuk and, more recently, the Oscar-nominated The Flying Sailor, by Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby, as well as Karsten Wall’s Modern Goose.
Rohan has been with us for a long time, too, as a distinguished NFB filmmaker going back to his first film with us, Cecil’s Journey, then later as producer on our Space School initiative. Named Quebec & Atlantic Studio producer in 2018 and executive producer in 2022, his legacy includes a number of wonderful projects, such as Nalujuk Night, by Jennie Williams, and Evan’s Drum, directed by Ossie Michelin.
We thank both David and Rohan for their contributions, and they will always remain a part of the NFB’s collective memory.
David and Rohan will not be replaced. As previously announced, Shirley Vercruysse will lead the Western Canada Studios, and Chanda Chevannes the Central Canada Studios, while Nathalie Cloutier will head the Eastern Canada and Canadian Francophonie Documentary Studios.
I want to be clear: we are in no way pulling back from our commitments to Canadians—nor will we do so in the future. On the contrary, under our Action Plan, we will be able to make greater investments in production so that our films can continue to have the impact we desire. Further investing in our primary mandate, creation, is what everyone has asked for and wanted for many years. Our commitment to the regions and to diversity, both in front of and behind the camera, remains intact. Nothing has been abolished, no programs have been put in jeopardy, follow-up activities and allocations earmarked for particular activities remain.
I can well understand that there has been some sadness and concern about these changes. We’re all human and we’re talking about very strong and special work relationships. At the same time our commitments to the communities rest on the NFB as a whole and are not the work of any single person. The studios are not dissolved, the projects remain with the producers in place who have their role to play. We have also made a commitment to be even more present with filmmakers to receive their projects, something you will see very quickly in the field.
Our position is also clear, that it is our producers who have the mandate to be on the ground. It is their responsibility to present and champion filmmakers’ projects. The filmmaker-producer relationship is at the heart of our mandate. The role of our executive producers is to be there to support the producers and give them the tools they need to fulfill their responsibilities. These are two distinct roles and should be seen and understood as such by all. We are prey to confusion on this issue in part because, at the NFB, these two roles were often shared by the same person.
Our role as a public producer and distributor is more important than ever. It is precisely by further investing in our mandate that we will best fulfill that role. Our presentation to the CRTC eloquently made this point.
I hope this message adds some clarity.
Directeur général – Création, distribution et marketing et chef de la programmation
Director General – Creation, Distribution and Marketing and Chief Programming Officer
Office national du film du Canada | National Film Board of Canada
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