The 5 Best Films You Didn’t Know Were on NFB.ca

Films

Let’s be real. There are a lot of films on this site, and as we’re adding new films every week it’s easy to lose track of all the great titles you want to watch.

There are several ways to deal with this. You can:

  • Create an account on NFB.ca and build playlists of all your must-see films
  • Stop by our homepage, where we feature a new selection of titles each week
  • Sign up for our weekly newsletter, which also offers film suggestions

Another way to navigate our collection is to drop in here and see what we’re featuring. About once a month we round up our favourite titles to share with you. This month, we’re looking at 5 of the best films that you probably didn’t even know were available on our site.

Surprise!

Dear Zachary

Ever watch film and think, “There’s no way this could possibly have happened.” That, in a nutshell, is how you feel when watching Dear Zachary.

Andrew Bagby was your average all-around great guy. He was the only child of two loving parents, an Eagle Scout by the age of 15(!) and was on the verge of completing his residency and becoming a family doctor when he was found murdered in a park one November morning.

Crazy thing is, everyone knew his ex-girlfriend did it. Even crazier, she was allowed to roam free while awaiting trial. Crazier still? She was pregnant with Andrew’s child.

Andrew’s parents, Kate and David Bagby, dropped everything in their lives, moved to Canada and did everything possible to ensure they would eventually get custody of their grandchild. They never suspected that would include a decade-long fight with the Canadian government.

The entire story is captured in this fast-paced documentary filmed by Andrew’s childhood friend, Kurt. It’s packed with intimate interviews, touching stories and a ton of footage that Kurt has been collecting his entire life. Bring Kleenex.

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father, Kurt Kuenne, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy

In 2013, Denis Villeneuve made not one, but two films starring Jake Gyllenhaal. One was Prisoners, the other was Enemy.

Enemy is a tense, psychological thriller loosely based on the novel The Double by José Saramago.  At its heart, it’s the story of two men who are physically identical in every possible sense, but polar opposites when it comes to their personalities.

Adam, a quiet, solitary college professor, discovers the existence of Anthony, his doppelgänger, when he sees him in a bit part in a movie. Adam becomes obsessed with Anthony, and stalks him until the two finally meet. What follows is a disturbing yet fascinating film.

The film won a slew of Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Picture. It was also named Best Canadian Film at the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards in 2014.

Enemy, Denis Villeneuve, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Rhymes for Young Ghouls

By now, I can’t imagine that there’s anyone who isn’t aware of Canada’s residential school system. This was a chapter in our history that saw young Indigenous children taken forcefully from their families and put into church-run boarding schools. It was a dark period in our past, as stories emerged about physical, emotional and sexual abuse as well as the forced enfranchising of these children.

The last residential school was closed in 1996. In 2008, Prime Minister Harper famously issued an apology on behalf of Canada. In 2013, Rhymes for Young Ghouls was released.

Rhymes for Young Ghouls is a gritty and hard-hitting film that shows us the realities of the residential school system through the fictional eyes of a young teenager, Aila.

Aila was placed in her uncle’s care after her mother committed suicide and her father was sent to jail. She takes over her father’s drug business but must deal with the abusive Popper, a truant officer who throws her into a residential school. Aila decides to seek revenge, and she takes revenge very seriously.

Rhymes for Young Ghouls, Jeff Barnaby, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

The Queen of Versailles

What happens to your fantasy world when reality hits?

This is the question that Jackie Siegel faces in The Queen of Versaillesa documentary film about one family’s fall from fortune when economic reality comes knocking on their door. That door, of course, belonging to the largest house in America.

David Siegel is a billionaire, founder and head of one of the biggest time-share companies in the world. Jackie is his third wife and mother of 8 children. The two were in the process of building their dream home – the largest house in America – when the market crashed in 2008 and forced them to seriously reconsider their lifestyle.

What follows is a funny, smart, surreal film that will run you through the wringer in terms of emotion.

I mean, how are we supposed to feel watching the 1% fall from their ranks?

The Queen of Versailles, Lauren Greenfield, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

How to Survive a Plague

As in Dear ZacharyHow to Survive a Plague also features a group of people who take on the government when they feel the government isn’t doing their job. In Zachary, the Bagbys fought for legal reform; in this film, the protagonists are fighting for their lives.

How to Survive a Plague is the first film for director David France, but as a journalist, he’d been covering AIDS since the beginning. It features two groups of people (ACT UP and TAG) who come together and use activism to turn AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable disease. Regardless of the fact that they’re not doctors or scientists, they managed to implicate themselves in the pharmaceutical industry, point out promising new treatments and help usher them along to market with incredible speed.

Throughout their work, many of the people involved knew that they were doing something of great importance. As a result, people filmed, took pictures and recorded stories – all of which results in an incredible wealth of visual material.

If you want to be inspired, and see what real heroism looks like, watch this film. This is what we can accomplish when we work together.

How to Survive a Plague, David France, provided by the National Film Board of Canada