In memoriam: Morten Parker (1919-2014)
Director, writer, producer and educator Morten Parker passed away last month at the age of 94. Born on July 28, 1919, Parker was a Winnipeg native and began his career as a journalist before joining the NFB in 1943 where he worked on over 20 NFB titles as a writer and director until 1963.
Parker established himself at the NFB by directing films addressing labour and social issues, demonstrating his commitment to social justice. “We were all young, we were all enthusiastic—and we were all going to change the world,” says Parker of the staff in the early days of the NFB.
He was responsible for many films in both the Labour in Canada series (1953-54) and The Nature of Work series (1958)—see, for example, The Grievance (1954), a film produced in cooperation with the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada that details the process by which a union facilitates the submission of a worker’s grievance in the mechanical and industrial fields.
Most notably, Parker directed two Oscar®-nominated films: The Fight: Science Against Cancer (1950) and The Stratford Adventure (1954). The latter is the charming tale of how a small Canadian city became a world-renowned destination for Shakespearean arts.
The Stratford Adventure, Morten Parker, provided by the National Film Board of Canada
Learn more about the production of this acclaimed film from this blog post.
Parker often collaborated with his wife, Gudrun Bjerring Parker—an acclaimed NFB stalwart in her own right who was also the writer of The Stratford Adventure—on films such as The Home Town Paper.
The Home Town Paper, Morten Parker, provided by the National Film Board of Canada
In 1963, Parker and his wife formed Parker Film Associates and made several sponsored and television films dealing with social justice issues.
Later in his life, Parker was an adjunct associate professor of film studies at New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. He also served as a United Nations expert in film production. Parker had two daughters: Julie Parker and the filmmaker Martha Parker.
Parker was profiled in Making Movie History: A Portrait in 61 Parts, a new interactive web doc that captures the innovators, dreamers, and rebels that shaped the NFB and Canadian cinema into what it is today. Learn more about the behind-the-scenes making of this project here.
Morten Parker: 1919-2014
although we didn’t know each other personally, you have been my best email-friend. Reading the message that you have passed away made me cry. I will miss your wonderful, heartwarming emails. It was always a pleasure for me to read your fantastic, skilled writings. You are really a great author! As we say in German: “Wer schreibt, der bleibt!”
I am feeling honoured to have known you and I am sure one day we will meet again and will continue our fruitful dialogues. I am looking forward to it! Good Bye, Morten, my best email-friend.
I was honored to be introduced to Morten Parker many years ago through his very dear friend Paula Orndoff. He was one of the kindest, smartest people I ever met and it was a pure honor to know him. Always will be remembered and never forgotten. Heather McGuire
Thank you, Jovana.
Also, his actual birthday was July 27, not the 28th.
A small correction: Morten Parker was 94 years old when he passed away; he would have been 95 in July. We partnered on several films in recent years and had begun principal photography on a new project shortly before his death.
Thank you Paula, I have made the correction.
Does anyone have a contact info for his daughter?
I was a close friend of his and I would like to get in touch with her.
Hi Anais, I have shared your contact information with someone who may have Mr. Parker’s daughter’s contact info.