Canada, 1969 (documentary, 26 minutes, black and white, English / French)
Also known as
"Opération boule de neige"
|Photo © National Film Board of Canada|
"An experiment in using videotape recording (VTR) and closed-circuit television to stimulate social action in a poor district of Montréal. A citizens' committee, formed in the downtown neighborhood of St-Jacques, was given a VTR unit, which they used to record people's problems and concerns. After viewing the edited tapes, people recognized their common problems and began to talk of joint solutions. In trying to change what needed changing they ran into resistance, but the effectiveness of this means of promoting joint action had been tested and proved."
-- National Film Board of Canada
|Film Credits (partial):
||George C. Stoney|
||National Film Board of Canada / Office national du film du Canada|
Notes about VTR St-Jacques
- Shown at the Women and Film International Festival (Toronto) in 1973.
- Film produced as part of the National Film Board of Canada's 'Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle' program.
Quotes by the Director
"Video equipment does not create dynamism where none is latent; it does not create action or ideas; these depend on the people who use it. Used responsively and creatively, it can accelerate perception and understanding, and therefore accelerate action. The Comité des Citoyens de Saint-Jacques could have accomplished any of their actions without the video equipment. We could not say that at any time it made the difference between success and failure. But it made good things better, and helped people to grow. It is a useful tool."
-- Dorothy Todd Hénaut, Bonnie Sherr Klein
"The videotape recording (VTR) project in St-Jacques is an attempt to extend to its logical conclusion the conviction that people should participate in shaping their own lives, which means among other things directing and manipulating the tools of modern communication necessary to gaining and exercising that participation."
-- Dorothy Todd Hénaut, Bonnie Sherr Klein
Quotes about VTR St-Jacques
"Dorothy Hénaut and Bonnie Sherr Klein came to [George] Stoney with the idea of doing a project with a citizen's committee in a poor neighborhood in Montreal.] [...] VTR St.-Jacques is a record of Klein and Hénaut's success in training community residents to use video to assist in their organizing process and in educating local administrators about the need for locally available, affordable medical care. The film is amazingly fresh to this day and offers a textbook example of the joys and woes of community-made video."
-- Deirdre Boyle
"In a moment iconic of the new theory of participant action research and community empowerment, [Bonnie Sherr] Klein is shown handing over the filmmaking equipment to the 'people.' Nevertheless, in a metafilmic style, Klein continues to film the people filming."
-- Zoë Druick
"VTR St-Jacques [...] documents a pioneering example of
community access video. Although the film-makers were responsible for
training the videographers / editors, they otherwise wrote themselves out of
the video work as professional documentarists. [...] With the coming of the
camcorder, the model of VTR St-Jacques has been followed
most assiduously at the BBC's Community Programmes Unit [...]."
-- Brian Winston
Quote about VTR St-Jacques [in French]
"Le projet vise à provoquer un dialogue entre les membres de la communauté par l'utilisation de la vidéo, 'la première expérience de la sorte que je connaisse' explique Bonnie. Elle livre la caméra à la communauté. Opération boule de neige (1969) résulte de l'enregistrement de cette expérience sur film afin de la rendre plus accessible d'une communauté à l'autre (l'accès à la vidéo n'était pas généralisé à l'époque); ce sont des séquences de dialogue des gens qui servent de narration."
-- Jacqueline Levitin
Publications by the Director about VTR St-Jacques
Sherr Klein, Bonnie, and Dorothy Todd Hénaut. "In the hands of citizens: a video report." Challenge for Change: Newsletter, no. 4, Spring-Summer 1969.
Sherr Klein, Bonnie, and Dorothy Todd Hénaut. "In the Hands of Citizens: A Video Report (1969)."
["Originally appeared in the Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle newsletter (Access/Médium-Média), no. 4, Spring/Summer 1969."]
In Challenge for Change: Activist Documentary at the National Film Board of Canada, edited by Michael Brendan Baker, Thomas Waugh, and Ezra Winton, 24-33. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010.
Bibliography for VTR St-Jacques
Rusted, Brian. "Portapak as Performance: VTR St-Jacques and VTR Rosedale."
In Challenge for Change: Activist Documentary at the National Film Board of Canada, edited by Michael Brendan Baker, Thomas Waugh, and Ezra Winton, 218-233. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010.
Brief Sections of Books
Druick, Zoë. Projecting Canada: Government Policy and Documentary Film at the National Film Board of Canada. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2007.
MacKenzie, Scott. Screening Québec: Québécois Moving Images, National Identity, and the Public Sphere. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004.
Brief Sections of Journal Articles
Boyle, Deirdre. "O, Canada!: George Stoney's Challenge." Wide Angle 21, no. 2 (1999). (pp. 55-56)
Newspaper or Magazine Articles
Madden, Paul. "VTR St. Jacques." Review of VTR St-Jacques. Monthly Film Bulletin, May 1974.
Web Sites about VTR St-Jacques