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// Special Event


February 25, 2010 - April 17, 2010

Screenings and book launches throughout the CP Network of the book Challenge for Change: Activist Documentary at the National Film Board of Canada edited by Cinema Politica founder Ezra Winton, with Thomas Waugh and Michael Brendan Baker and published by McGill-Queen's University Press in February/March 2010.

Challenge for Change: Activist Documentary at the National Film Board of Canada, published by McGill-Queen's University Press, is a 600-page volume of essays and articles edited by Cinema Politica founder and programmer Ezra Winton, along with Thomas Waugh and Michael Brendan Baker. Three years in the making, this collection  brings together for the first time historical and contemporary literature and research on one of the National Film Board of Canada's most (in)famous initiatives to date.

Cinema Politica is proud to sponsor the national book launch tour of this important work, and is working with MQUP and the NFB to program Challenge for Change films to correspond with launch dates. Information on the tour, as well as a full description of the book is found below.

Purchase the book from hereFor regular updates: Follow scholarmqup on Twitter, become a fan of MQUP on Facebook, and visit the MQUP YouTube channel.


Edited by Thomas Waugh, Michael Brendan Baker and Ezra Winton

An examination of the radical politics and cinema of the legendary documentary film program devoted to social change.

“Challenge for Change seamlessly integrates the history of this classic National Film Board program with present day initiatives. It sets the stage for further exploration on the subject and deals comprehensively with the complex interrelation of English and French production. The first of its kind, this book is ambitious, accessible, and superbly informed.”
– Darrell Varga, Division of Historical and Critical Studies, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University

“Challenge for Change is amongst the most exciting, bold, and innovative moments in the history of film. Now we are fortunate to have the perfect chronicle of this distinguished series through a stunning collection of documentation and critique. Bravo!”
Toby Miller, author of Global Hollywood 2

Challenge for Change: Activist Documentary at the National Film Board of Canada
is a collection of thirty-eight essays and interviews written by the editors and other Canadian scholars, including a small selection from academics outside of the country. While in some published works there exists a tendency to discuss Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle exclusively as a romanticized revolutionary media experiment that empowered citizens, disseminated counter-narratives and impacted real change—and in other works a fair dose of postmodern skepticism around such naïve baby boomer idealism is found—the bigger project of complicating CFC/SN and interrogating its many (conflicting) facets is explored in this volume. The essays provide such a heterogeneous approach, and yield varied perspectives that together, house cultural theory, politics, historiography, film and media studies, and cultural policy discourse. The book is divided into four sections, “Historical Spaces,”  “Community Spaces,”  “Screen Spaces,” and “Discursive Spaces,” and complimented by an introduction by the editors and two concluding chapters. A resource section complements the literature with a comprehensive bibliography and a complete annotated filmography of the CFC/SN collection - available for the first time in a single volume.

+ Download the two-page Info Sheet (PDF).
+ View the Table of Contents online
+ Purchase Challenge for Change: Activist Documentary at the National Film Board of Canada.



The activist documentary program Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle, which ran from 1967 to 1980 and produced films in both French and English, stands out as a particularly influential and original part of the National Film Board of Canada’s critically acclaimed body of work. The films produced by this program were among the first to add portable video to the tested arsenal of 16mm, and challenged audiences, subjects, and filmmakers to confront sexism, poverty, and marginalization in the hope of developing community as well as political awareness and empowerment.

Pioneering participatory, social change-oriented media, the program had a national and international impact on documentary film-making, yet this is the first comprehensive history and analysis of its work. The volume’s contributors study dozens of films produced by the program, their themes, aesthetics, and politics, and evaluate their legacy and the program’s place in Canadian, Québécois, and world cinema. An informative and nuanced look at a cinematic movement, Challenge for Change reemphasizes not just the importance of the NFB and its programs but also the role documentaries can play in improving the world.


Between February and April, 2010, Challenge for Change: Activist Documentary at the National Film Board of Canada launches at several locations across Canada. The launch tour, which is co-sponsored by MQUP, the NFB, Concordia’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, the Concordia Faculty of Fine Arts and Cinema Politica, will consist of several screenings of CFC/SN works along with talks from the editors and contributors.

The image at the left is the original CFC/SN logo, used in the newsletter and other promotions from the time.

+ TORONTO / Thursday, FEBRUARY 25, 7 - 9 PM
The Toronto launch is co-sponsored by This is Not a Reading Series
LOCATION: NFB MEDIATHEQUE, 150 John Street, Toronto ON
Honoured Guest: Terence Macartney Filgate

+ MONTREAL / Saturday, MARCH 6, 2 PM screening and 4 PM reception
2 PM screening: J.A. De Sève Cinema, LB-125, 1400 de Maisonneuve West, Montréal QC
4 PM reception: EV 11.725, 1515 Ste. Catherine W., corner Guy, Montréal QC
Honoured Guests: Hélène Girard, Dorothy Todd Hénaut, Colin Low, Terence Macartney-Filgate, Mike Mitchell, Peter Pearson, George Stoney

+ OTTAWA / Friday, MARCH 12,  5 - 7 PM
LOCATION: Reader's Digest Resource Library, 346 St. Patrick's Building
1125 Colonel By Drive, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON
Honoured Guest: Boyce Richardson

+ VANCOUVER / Monday, MARCH 22, 5-8 PM
The Vancouver launch is co-sponsored by the Simon Fraser University Department of English , the SFU School of Communication and W2 Culture+Media House.
5:30 - 6:15 PM screenings of CFC/SN clips
6:15 - 7: 15 PM talk with editor Tom Waugh followed by refreshments and light snacks
7:30 - 8 PM talk with Jean Walton: "Mudflat Turf Wars: Eviction Documentaries and the NFB in Vancouver in the early 1970s."
LOCATION: W2 Culture+Media House, 112 W Hastings, Vancouver, BC, V6B 1G Honoured Guest: Bonnie Sherr Klein 

+ HALIFAX / Saturday, APRIL 17, 5-7 PM
The Halifax launch is co-sponsored by NSCAD and the Halifax Independent Film Festival
The North End Church, 5657 North Street, Halifax NS
Honoured Guest: Léonard Forest

Partnership with the NFB for online CFC/SN media streaming:

The editors and MQUP have collaborated with the National Film Board of Canada to simultaneously launch the Challenge for Change book with English and French CFC/SN “playlists”: films and videos discussed in the book are now available to stream on the NFB site for the first time. This unprecedented collaboration will connect readers directly with the media analyzed in the book in a meaningful and highly accessible way. The editors are confident that this partnership will facilitate educational applications of the book as teachers and students will have instant web-access to many of the CFC/SN titles—inaccessible for so long in the NFB’s archives—with the click of a button.

About the Editors

Thomas Waugh, professor in the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Concordia University, is the author of The Romance of Transgression in Canada: Queering Sexualities, Nations, Cinemas.  Michael Brendan Baker is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University. Ezra Winton is a PhD candidate in the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University and the founder of the Cinema Politica Network.

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