Canadian Political Storytelling: Back to a Future?



This paper examines English language or bilingual screen narratives (film and television series) dealing with the public sphere produced in Canada since 1960. Forty-nine texts were analysed including docudramas such as biopics about political leaders, documentaries, films on women in politics, and films on First Nations politics. Applying Borins and Herst’s four-quadrant model of political fables, most instantiate the heroic fable except films on women and First Nations. Conditions of production, including the influence of US films and television series, as well as the limitations of public-sector funding through the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and National Film Board (NFB) are also discussed. This paper illustrates how the evolving transnational entertainment economy constrains cultural producers working within traditional creative and industrial modes of production while simultaneously offering opportunities to invent (or reinvent) alternatives. The paper concludes that enhanced arm’s-length funding for documentaries represents the best way to ensure a vibrant future for this genre of narrative in Canada.

  • Year: 2021
  • Volume: 2 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 185-224
  • DOI: 10.37975/NAS.42
  • Published on 12 Nov 2021