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GDP: Nation-wide crisis seen through local eyes

Posted by Andrés / November 15, 2009


Jack is a hockey taxi driver. In order to deal with the downturn in clientele, this cabbie has found himself a niche. He caters to hockey players and coaches, asking them to sign the roof of his cab before they leave. At one point he brings out a ledger of names and autographs of people who rode in his taxi: names such as Wayne Gretzky and Jacques Demers. His bread and butter, large hockey fares, is also his gimmick to attract non-celebrities. This photographic essay joins over a dozen episodic films on how regular Canadians are dealing with the loom of financial disaster, available to watch for free at GDP.NFB.CA.

Only a year ago, the National Film Board began its project to upload all its films online. This decision came on the cusp of a financial crisis, enabling the public at large to view their library without spending more than a monthly internet service bill (or free for library-goers). GDP is the next step: films exclusive to an online audience that deal with "the human side of the Canadian economic crisis". A combination of Flash website, film, photographic essays and community input, GDP seems to be at once the culmination of the NFB's attempt to democratize their work, as well as a continuance of its raison d'être to deal with contemporary issues affecting Canadians.

The main draw are a series of 12 stories, told in four minute episodes that began in September and will update through to August 2010. While the human element of each of these stories can be universally understood, Montrealers should be particularly interested in a few local stories. Inner City is about the residents of Rosemont and how community projects are helping citizens through some tough times. Truckers is a historical look into a Boucherville trucking company and how it is dealing with the decrease in cross-border economy. Workshop tells the story of Formétal, a metallurgy company and school that gives employment to those who dropped out of high school, and trains them for future employment opportunities.

The GDP project is more than just online webisodes, but a platform for country-wide participation. The website allows not only for comments, but user submissions that relate to personal financial struggles or successes. To learn more about how you can get involved in the NFB's latest project, the project coordinators will be present at the Cinématheque québécoise on Wednesday, Novemeber 18th from 5 to 7pm as part of RIDM 2009.

In keeping with the thematic draw of GDP.NFB.CA, the event is gratos.

Image courtesy GDP.NFB.CA (Liam Maloney's Hockey driver)

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