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Donald Brittain


B: June 10, 1928 in Ottawa, Ontario

D: July 21, 1989 in Montréal, Québec

Donald Brittain started out as a journalist and after a number of years with the Ottawa Journal he joined The National Film Board in 1955. A unique combination of talents he was a documentary producer-director who most often wrote his own scripts and narrated them too. His awards, 15 Genie and Canadian Film Awards in all, include 3 Genies for Paperland: The Bureaucrat Observed; ACTRA Awards for The Most Dangerous Spy and A Blanket of Ice in 1981; another ACTRA Award for Something to Celebrate, 1983; 2 Geminis for Canada’s Sweetheart: The Saga of Hal C. Banks, 1985, which was also named Best Canadian Production at the 1985 Toronto Festival of Festivals; 2 Geminis for The Final Battle in 1986. These are his credits as a director. The 1965 film, Ladies and Gentleman…Mr Leonard Cohen was co-directed with Don Owen. Shortly before his death, he had started work on Family: A Loving Look at CBC Radio. The project was competed in 1991 by Robert Duncan. A year after his passing, Brittain was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in recognition of “his masterful visual records of our social and cultural past.”

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Winter Construction? It Can Be Done (1958)
Setting Fires For Science (1958)
A Day in the Night of Jonathan Mole (1959)

Everybody’s Prejudiced (1961)
Return Reservation (1964)
Fields of Sacrifice (1964)
Bethune (1964)
Two Men from Montreal (1965)
Memorandum (1965)
Ladies and Gentleman…Mr Leonard Cohen (1965, with Don Owen)
Never a Step Backward (1966)
Saul Alinsky Went to War (1968)

Tiger Child (1970)
Small is Beautiful: Impressions of Fritz Schumacher (1970)
Starblanket (1973)
Cavendish Country (1973)
Catskinner Keen (1974)
Van’s Camp (1974)
King of the Hill (1974)
Dreamland: A History of Early Canadian Movies 1895-1939 (1974)
Volcano: An Inquiry Into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry (1976)
His Worship, Mr. Montreal (1976)
Henry Ford’s America (1977)
Has Anybody Here Seen Canada (1978)
Secrets of the Bermuda Triangle (1978)
The Champions (1978)
The Dionne Quintuplets (TV-1978)
Paperland – The Bureaucrat Observed (1979)

Canada’s Sweetheart: The Saga of Hal Banks (1985)

TV Series:
Canada At War (1962)
Champions (1986, mini-series)
The King Chronicle (1988, mini-series)