The 10 Most-Viewed NFB Films of 2017


As we wrap up the year, we thought it would be fun to look at the Top 10 most-watched films 2017. Some of the films are obvious, but a few caught us by surprise. It’s a great mix, and is sure to make for some great viewing during the holidays.


10 – Maud Lewis: A World Without Shadows

The success of last year’s feature film Maudie, starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke, was great for Canadian film in general, and one of our films in particular. The renewed interest in Nova Scotia’s most well-known folk artist sent people to our site to watch this short doc from 1976.

Maud Lewis: A World Without Shadows, Diane Beaudry, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

09 – Paddle to the Sea

It was a big year for Paddle, as it celebrated its 50th anniversary (a year late, but who’s counting?) and was invited aboard the Canada C3. This little film that follows the adventures of a small wooden carving on its long odyssey from Lake Superior to the sea is one of the most treasured films in our collection.

Paddle to the Sea , Bill Mason, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

08 – Return to Vimy

This year marked the 100th anniversary of The Battle of Vimy Ridge. This film marks the first time the NFB has colourized its own archives for a film project, allowing us to go back in time and revisit the daily lives of the Canadian Corps as they prepared for battle.

Return to Vimy, Denis McCready, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

07 – The Railrodder

No one can deny the comic genius of Buster Keaton, and coupled together with director Gerald Potterton, he created a hilarious gem of a film that was one of the last of his long career. This is a film that always performs well, and it’s no mystery why. Take 25 minutes and enjoy – you won’t regret it.

The Railrodder, Gerald Potterton, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

06 – Griefwalker

Meet Stephen Jenkinson, a man who has attended the deaths of well over 1,000 people. He left his job as leader of the palliative care counselling team at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital and has made it his life’s mission to change the way we die.

Griefwalker, Tim Wilson, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

05 – The Sweater

The Sweater is another project that had a big year. A musical, based on the original story by Roch Carrier, was performed at Montreal’s Segal Centre. This film is a true NFB classic, and frankly I’d be shocked if there was a year it didn’t make this Top 10 list.

The Sweater, Sheldon Cohen, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

04 – Blackfly

If there was an award for NFB Earworm, this film and its song would take the prize… challenged only by the film in the number two spot on this list. It features the musical stylings of Canadian folk singer Wade Hemsworth, backed by the fabulous McGarrigle sisters.

Blackfly, Christopher Hinton, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

03 – Crapshoot: The Gamble with Our Wastes

That this doc from 2003 places third on our Top 10 list of most-watched films of the year is a testament to how much of an issue waste and the environment is. Filmed in Italy, India, Sweden, the United States, and Canada, this film questions our fundamental attitudes towards waste and our need to dispose of it.

Crapshoot: The Gamble with Our Wastes, Jeff McKay, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

02 – The Cat Came Back

This beloved classic was feted this year with the release of The Cat Came Back picture book, illustrated by Cordell Barker himself and published by Firefly Books. Until you can get your hands on a copy, enjoy the original 1988 film.

The Cat Came Back, Cordell Barker, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

01 – Canada Vignettes: Log Driver’s Waltz

Tell the truth – is anyone really surprised that this film comes in at Number 1? Whenever I meet new people and tell them I work for the NFB, they break into their rendition of this song. It’s like they go hand in hand. Speaking of which…

Canada Vignettes: Log Driver's Waltz, John Weldon, provided by the National Film Board of Canada