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Expo 67 (Films at)

More films were shown at Expo 67 in Montreal than at any previous World’s Fair. Press materials claimed that five thousand films were shown in the various pavilions, but only a handful of these were produced especially for Expo. Of this smaller group, most were produced for the various theme pavilions, for the Canadian pavilion and the provincial pavilions, and most were made by Canadians.

Many of the films involved specialized types of presentation, such as multiple screens (Labyrinth) or multiple images on a single screen (A Place to Stand). Though these films did not (as was claimed at the time) revolutionize filmmaking, they set new standards of technical and creative ingenuity and were received enthusiastically by critics and audiences.

The following list is organized according to the pavilion in which the film was screened. Regrettably, only a few of the films were made available after Expo, with Labyrinth and A Place to Stand being the most notable examples.

Canadian Pavilion (Revolving Theatre)

Agricultural and Industrial Growth
5min., black and white, no dialogue
Director Donald Carter
Music Larry Crosley
Production Company Crawley Films
One of the least interesting of the films in the pavilion, this was a series of tinted photographs illustrating the theme laid out in the title.

Canada Today
5 min., colour, no dialogue
Director Claude Fournier
Production Company Crawley Films, Omega, Fournier
Despite its three screens, this was merely a stereotypical succession of close-ups.

Confederation (Canada Is My Piano)
5 min., colour, no dialogue
Director George Dunning
Producer George Dunning
Music Ron Goodwin
Witty animated film about three piano players from different European countries who each play different tunes until they are frightened into unity by a vision of the United States.

5 min., colour, English & French narration
Director Grant Crabtree
Photographer Grant Crabtree
Editor Grant Crabtree
Widescreen vision of an unpopulated Canada before settlement.

Settlement and Conflict
5 min., colour, no dialogue
Director Michel Brault
Photographer Michel Brault
The best of the five films, a brilliant use of two screens (one vertical, one horizontal) to create a very humanistic portrait.

Canadian National Pavilion

14 min., colour, no dialogue
Director Vince Vaitiekunas
Editor Vince Vaitiekunas
Photographer Robert Gaffney
A nicely shot, but ultimately trivial, essay on movement.

Canadian Pacific-Cominco Pavilion

We Are Young
20 min., colour, English & French narration
Director Francis Thompson, Alexander Hammid
Producer Francis Thompson, Alexander Hammid
Music David Amram
This film about young people, with its overblown use of technology, was less successful than the filmmakers’ To Be Alive, which was shown in the UN pavilion.

Christian Pavilion

The Eighth Day
13 min., black and white
Director Charles Gagnon
Producer Charles Gagnon
This well-remembered essay by painter and experimental filmmaker Charles Gagnon (who also designed the pavilion itself), on war and the human condition, was compiled mostly from newsreels and still photographs.

Czechoslovakia Pavilion

One of the most popular shows at Expo, this involved an audience making decisions (which they registered via buttons) about what an actor involved in a sex farce should or should not do.

Kaleidoscope Pavilion

12 min., colour, no dialogue
Director Morley Markson
Producer Morley Markson
Music Murray Shafer
Perhaps an experience more than a film, this pavilion (designed by Markson in association with the University of Waterloo’s Institute of Design) had three chambers, each differently shaped and with a different arrangement of mirrors to reflect the images on the screen.

Labyrinthe Pavilion


Laterna Magika Pavilion

Laterna Magika
40 min., colour, English & French
Director Josef Svoboda, Alfred Radok
Producer Josef Svoboda, Alfred Radok
One of the great successes at Expo, this comedy used both live and filmed actors who interacted with and reacted to one another.

Man in the Community Pavilion

6 min., colour, no dialogue
Director John Hubley
Producer John Hubley
Animation John Hubley
Music Benny Carter
Witty animated film on the interdependence of city and country.

Man the Explorer Pavilion

Earth Is Man’s Home
11 min., colour and black and white, no dialogue
Director Nick Chaparos, Anne Chaparos
Producer Nick Chaparos, Anne Chaparos
Editor Nick Chaparos, Anne Chaparos
One of the best films at Expo, Earth Is Man’s Home used a single vertical screen and made effective use of contrast and comparison in its multiple images.

Polar Life
18 min., colour, English & French narration
Director Graeme Ferguson
Photographer Graeme Ferguson
Editor Graeme Ferguson, Shirley Clarke, Robert Farren
This extremely well-made documentary was marred by technological pretentiousness: of the eleven screens used, only two or three were visible at any point, since the audience sat in a circular rotating theatre and the screens passed in front of them.

Ontario Pavilion

A Place to Stand

Quebec Pavilion

8 min., colour, no dialogue
Director Henri Michaud
Editor Werner Nold
Sound Maurice Blackburn
A multi-image film that is similar to, but less successful than, A Place to Stand.

Telephone Pavilion

Canada ‘67
22 min., colour, English & French narration
Director Robert Lawrence
Photographer Robert Lawrence
Editor Robert Lawrence
Production Company Walt Disney Productions
A boring travelogue made in Disney’s Circle-Vision 360º process.

United Nations Pavilion

To Be Alive
18 min., colour, no dialogue
Director Francis Thompson, Alexander Hammid
Producer Francis Thompson, Alexander Hammid
A rerun of one of the earliest three-screen films, originally made for the New York World’s Fair.

United States Pavilion

A Time to Play
20 min., colour
Director Art Kane
Photography Mike Murphy
Production Company VPI
Glossy documentary, more similar to a television commercial, on the games children play.

By: Peter Morris