Return to tiff.’s home page

Canadian Film Encyclopedia

Shopping Cart

Kathleen Shannon

Director, Producer, Editor, Photographer
(b. January 1, 1935 Vancover, British Columbia - d. January 9, 1998)

Kathleen Shannon's career in film started when she landed a job with Crawley Films cataloguing music in 1952. She joined the NFB in 1956 as a music editor, and after editing 115 films (!), she moved into picture editing — editing another 40 films. After 18 years' of experience as a film editor, she was finally given the opportunity to direct films for the Challenge for Change program, including I Don’t Think It’s Meant for Us (1971) and a series of 11 shorts in Working Mothers (1974–1975). She wrote, directed and edited Goldwood in 1974, an exploration of her childhood memories.

Her greatest contribution to documentary filmmaking was the founding of the NFB’s Studio D. Her strong feminist views and her belief that films are meant to effect change in the world were behind the forthright mandate of Studio D: to make films by, for and about women. Shannon ran Studio D from 1975 to 1986, overseeing the production of over 80 films. Under her tutelage, Studio D produced films such as I’ll Find A Way (1977), the Academy Award®–winning If You Love This Planet (1980), and Not a Love Story (1981).

In 1984, Shannon received an honorary doctorate from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, for "raising the level of knowledge and consciousness about matters of social and human importance." Two years later, she was named an Officer of the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian distinction, in recognition of her contribution to the women's movement. In 1986, feeling that she and the studio needed a change, she stepped down as executive producer. In 1990, she returned to directing, working on a series in seven parts called Faithful Women.

In a tribute to Shannon, the NFB instituted an award in her name, which is accompanied by a $1,000 cash prize, to be presented each year at the Yorkton Short Film and Video Festival. The award recognizes independently made documentary films that "allow people outside the dominant culture to speak for themselves." Shannon retired in 1992, receiving two further honorary degrees. In 1997, filmmaker Gerry Rogers chronicled her life in Kathleen Shannon: On Film, Feminism and Other Dreams (1997). Shannon died of lung cancer at the age of 62.

Film and video work includes

23 Skidoo, 1964 (editor)
Octopus Hunt, 1965 (editor; music; sound)
Stefansson: The Arctic Prophet, 1965 (editor)
The Animal Movie, 1966 (music; sound)
Once Upon a Prime Time, 1966 (editor)
The Purse, 1966 (editor)
The Summer We Moved to Elm Street, 1966 (editor; sound)
Summerhill, 1966 (editor)
Indian Dialogue, 1967 (editor; sound)
Isotopes in Action, 1967 (editor)
Pikangikum, 1967 (editor; sound)
PowWow at Duck Lake, 1967 (editor)
You Are on Indian Land, 1969 (editor)
A Young Social Worker Speaks Her Mind, 1969 (editor)
The End of the Nancy J, 1970 (editor)
A Rosewood Daydream, 1970 (editor)
Extensions of the Family, Challenge for Change series, 1974 (director; editor; producer)
Goldwood, 1974 (director; writer; editor; music)
I Don't Think It's Meant for Us, Challenge for Change series, 1971 (director; editor)
It's Not Enough, Challenge for Change series, 1974 (director; editor; producer)
Like the Trees, Challenge for Change series, 1974 (director; editor; producer)
Luckily I Need Little Sleep, Challenge for Change series, 1974 (director; editor; producer)
Mothers Are People, Challenge for Change series, 1974 (director; editor; producer)
Our Dear Sisters, Challenge for Change series, 1974 (director; producer)
The Spring and Fall of Nina Polanski, 1974 (producer; music)
They Appreciate You More, Challenge for Change series, 1974 (director; editor; producer)
Tiger on a Tight Leash, Challenge for Change series, 1974 (director; editor; producer)
Would I Ever Like to Work, Challenge for Change series, 1974 (director; editor; producer)
...And They Lived Happily Ever After, 1975 (co-director with Irene Angelico, Anne Henderson; co-editor with Irene Angelico, Anne Henderson; producer)
Co-op Housing: The Best Move We Ever Made, 1975 (producer)
Co-op Housing: Getting It Together, 1975 (producer)
Great Grand Mother, 1975 (producer)
My Friends Call Me Tony, 1975 (producer)
My Name Is Susan Lee, 1975 (producer)
Just-A-Minute, 1976 (producer)
Maud Lewis: A World Without Shadows, 1976 (producer)
A Working Chance, 1976 (producer)
Beautiful Lennard Island, 1977 (producer)
Gurdeep Singh Bains, 1977 (producer)
How They Saw Us: Needles and Pins, 1977 (producer)
How They Saw Us: Women at War, 1977 (producer)
How They Saw Us: Women at Work, 1977 (producer)
Kevin Alex, 1977 (producer)
The Lady from Grey County, 1977 (producer)
Some American Feminists, 1977 (producer)
Veronica, 1977 (producer)
Benoît, 1978 (producer)
Canada Vignettes: Flin Flon, 1978 (producer)
Canada Vignettes: Holidays, 1978 (producer)
Canada Vignettes: Stunt Family, 1978 (producer)
Canada Vignettes: The Thirties, 1978 (producer)
Eve Lambart, 1978 (producer)
Patricia's Moving Picture, 1978 (producer)
Rencontre, 1978 (producer)
Sun, Wind and Wood, 1978 (producer)
An Unremarkable Birth, 1978 (producer)
Canada Vignettes: McIntosh, 1979 (producer)
Prairie Album, 1979 (producer)
The Right Candidate for Rosedale, 1979 (producer)
Sea Dream, 1979 (producer)
Boys Will Be Men, 1980 (producer)
Canada Vignettes: Agnes Campbell MacPhail, 1980 (producer)
Canada Vignettes: Birth, 1980 (producer)
Canada Vignettes: Homestead, 1980 (producer)
Canada Vignettes: The Vote, 1980 (producer)
Just A Lady, 1980 (producer)
Laila, 1980 (producer)
Rusting World, 1980 (producer)
The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, 1980 (producer)
Julie O'Brien, 1981 (producer)
Louise Drouin: Veterinarian, 1981 (producer)
Four Centuries: The Firearm in Canada, 1982 (producer)
It's Just Better, 1982 (producer)
Portrait of the Artist... as an Old Lady, 1982 (producer)
The Way It Is, 1982 (producer)
Attention: Women at Work, 1983 (producer)
Dream of a Free Country: A Message from Nicaraguan Women, 1983 (director; producer)
I Want to Be an Engineer, 1983 (producer)
Pukaskwa National Park, 1983 (producer)
Adèle and the Ponies of Ardmore, 1984 (producer)
Abortion: Stories from North and South, 1984 (producer)
Behind the Veil: Nuns, 1984 (producer)
Head Start: Meeting the Computer Challenge, 1984 (producer)
On Our Own, 1984 (producer)
This Borrowed Land, 1984 (producer)
Too Dirty for a Woman, 1984 (producer)
The Treadmill, 1984 (producer)
Turnaround: A Story of Recovery, 1984 (writer; co-editor with Shelly Hamer; producer)
Waterwalker, 1984 (producer)
The Best Time of My Life: Portraits of Women in Mid-Life, 1985 (producer)
Dark Lullabies, 1985 (producer)
DES: An Uncertain Legacy, 1985 (producer)
Speaking Our Peace, 1985 (producer)
Spirit of the Kata, 1985 (producer)
A Writer in the Nuclear Age: A Conversation with Margaret Laurence, 1985 (producer)
Beyond Memory, 1986 (producer)
Children of War, 1986 (producer)
Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief, 1986 (producer)
Firewords: Louky Bersianik, Jovette Marchessault, Nicole Brossard, 1986 (producer)
First Take Double Take, 1986 (producer)
The Impossible Takes a Little Longer, 1986 (producer)
Moving On, 1986 (producer)
No Longer Silent, 1986 (producer)
Nuclear Addiction: Dr. Rosalie Bertell on the Cost of Deterrence, 1986 (producer)
A Safe Distance, 1986 (producer)
Speaking of Nairobi, 1986 (producer)
Sylvie's Story, 1986 (producer)
Thin Dreams, 1986 (producer)
The Legacy of Mary McEwen, 1987 (producer)
A Love Affair with Politics: A Portrait of Marion Dewar, 1987 (producer)
The Man Who Stole Dreams, 1987 (producer)
To a Safer Place, 1987 (producer)
Worth Every Minute, 1987 (producer)
15th Anniversary, 1989 (narrator)
Adam's World, 1989 (producer)
Goddess Remembered, 1989 (producer)
Illuminated Lives: A Brief History of Women's Work in the Middle Ages, 1989 (producer)
Russian Diary, 1989 (producer)
The Burning Times, 1990 (producer)
Gathering Together, Faithful Women series, 1990 (director; co-editor with Gerry Rogers)
Harmony and Balance, Faithful Women series, 1990 (director; co-editor with Gerry Rogers)
I'll Never Forget You, Faithful Women series, 1990 (director; co-editor with Gerry Rogers)
Priorities and Perspectives, Faithful Women series, 1990 (director; co-editor with Gerry Rogers)
Texts and Contexts, Faithful Women series, 1990 (director; co-editor with Gerry Rogers)
Through Ignorance or Design, Faithful Women series, 1990 (director; co-editor with Gerry Rogers)
Working towards Peace, Faithful Women series, 1990 (director; editor)
Full Circle, 1993 (producer)