Donald Brittain

Donald Brittain, OC (June 10, 1928 – July 21, 1989) was a film director and producer with the National Film Board of Canada.

Donald Brittain
Born(1928-06-10)June 10, 1928
DiedJuly 21, 1989(1989-07-21) (aged 61)
Known forFilmmaker
AwardsOrder of Canada

Fields of Sacrifice (1964) is considered Brittain's first major film as director.[1] His other notable directorial credits include the 1964 feature documentary Bethune,[2] 1965 documentaries Ladies and Gentlemen... Mr. Leonard Cohen and Memorandum and the Genie Award-winning 1979 documentary Paperland: The Bureaucrat Observed. He also directed the first-ever IMAX film, Tiger Child for Expo '70, and Earthwatch, a 70mm film for Expo 86.[3]

He wrote the 1975 Oscar-nominated short documentary Whistling Smith. He co-directed the 1976 feature documentary Volcano: An Inquiry Into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry which garnered 6 Canadian Film Awards and an Academy Award nomination.

Brittain also directed the three-part CBC-coproduced series The Champions, chronicling the lives and battles of Canadian political titans René Lévesque and Pierre Elliott Trudeau. His most ambitious project was The King Chronicle, a three-part 1987-88 television series about the remarkable career of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.[4]

He won the Gemini Award for best screenplay and direction for the 1985 drama Canada's Sweetheart: The Saga of Hal C. Banks.

As NFB producer, Brittain's credits included Arthur Lipsett's A Trip Down Memory Lane.[5]

Often a narrator of his own documentaries, Brittain also lent his voice to the animated mockumentary What on Earth![6]

Lifetime achievement awards and posthumous honoursEdit

In 1989, Brittain was the recipient of a Margaret Collier Award. In 1990, he was posthumously appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in recognition of "his masterful visual records of our social and cultural past.[1]

The Donald Brittain Award for the best political or social documentary presented by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television at the Gemini Awards and more recently, the Canadian Screen Awards, are named in his honour.

Brittain is interred in Ottawa, Ontario's Beechwood Cemetery.

Further readingEdit

  • Terry Kolomeychuk, ed. (1991). Donald Brittain:Never the Ordinary Way. Winnipeg: National Film Board of Canada. ISBN 0-7722-0188-9.


  1. ^ a b "Donald Brittain". Canadian Film Encyclopedia. The Film Companion; Take One's Essential Guide to Canadian Film. 2003. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
  2. ^ Wise, Wyndham (15 December 2001). Take One's Essential Guide to Canadian Film. University of Toronto Press. p. 1952. ISBN 9781442656208. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Showscan".
  4. ^ "NFB Artisans - Donald Brittain". Archived from the original on 2012-03-20.
  5. ^ Kashmere, Brett (May 2004). "Arthur Lipsett". Senses of Cinema. ISSN 1443-4059. Archived from the original on 2010-06-10.
  6. ^ "What on Earth!". Collection. National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 12 March 2010.

External linksEdit