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Grierson’s interest in documentary as a medium for promoting social and political change was also the subject of numerous articles. Of particular interest are Jose Arroyo’s “John Grierson: Years of Decision” in Cinema Canada and Peter Morris’s “Praxis into Process: John Grierson and the National Film Board of Canada” published in the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. Other more recent work from outside Canada on Grierson include the 1990 Film and Reform, John Grierson and the Documentary Film Movement by Ian Aitken, Claiming the Real, the Griersonian Documentary and its Legitimations (1995) by Brian Winston, John Grierson: Life, Contributions, inﬂuence (2000) by Jack Ellis and From Grierson to the Docu-soap (2000) by John Izod and Richard Kilborn.
No studies have so far attempted to provide an elaborate assessment of the ﬁlms themselves as social and political signiﬁers of the war period or in connection with their depiction of social identities. M. Teresa Nash’s 1982 McGill University dissertation on how these ﬁlms represented women remains the only and most comprehensive attempt to exclusively deal with the ﬁlms in terms of their social signiﬁcance and impact. In the late 1980s, Grierson’s politics, aesthetic and formal interests, as well as his emphasis on propaganda as an educational tool, all came under vigorous reexamination.
The ﬁrst section of this Chapter examines the general framework of the discourse on Canadian cinema: its history, its theoretical premises, and its main preoccupations. It surveys notions of Canadian nationalism as criteria that had a major impact on this discourse, ever since interest in Canadian cinema began to take shape in the late1960s and early 1970s. It also tackles how nationalism contributed to marginalizing the exploration of issues related to class. The next section deals speciﬁcally with English ﬁlm studies approximation of NFB ﬁlms of the war period.