Challenge for Change.
CHALLENGE FOR CHANGE by Thomas Waugh, Michael Brendan Baker and Ezra Winton (Eds.), MQUP, 2010
A fine volume which surveys the National Film Board of Canada's sweeping "Challenge for Change" program, this anthology makes for a bittersweet read in the shadow of a hobbled NFB. Those with a taste for uniquely retrograde political cudgels, in particular socially constructed ones, have for some time fingered "the arts" vanguard as a catch-all: repository for a shifting array of slovenly bogeymen, it is deserving of public derision and decidedly not public dollars. And for all the social incoherence of this contemporary slash-and-burn approach to arts funding, it feels doubly remarkable that "Challenge for Change" amounted to a program of spunky, unselfconscious, publicly funded activism.
The program, which ran until 1980 and boasts a corpus of over 200 films, used the novel inconspicuousness of emergent filmmaking equipment to cozy up to its subjects; and the imperative of its public mandate to empower them. The result was varied and unvarnished. Fittingly, this volume is a collection of great breadth and scholarly reach: Naomi Klein, whose mother Bonnie Sherr Klein was a prodigious NFB filmmaker, provides the foreword; Rina Fraticelli examines second-wave feminism in the context of vignettes dubbed "Would I Ever Like to Work".
Reviews by DYLAN ROBERTS