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Gatineau, Wednesday, February 11, 2008 – Unionized employees at the National Film Board (NFB) have their eye on federal MPs. And these elected officials won’t be able to miss their message, which will be visible on five giant billboards around Parliament Hill in Ottawa. CUPE, which represents 260 NFB employees, is continuing its campaign for increased Film Board funding – a campaign launched last week with two on-line videos that can be viewed on YouTube and at www.cupe.ca and www.scfp.qc.ca. Entitled At the NFB, the economic crisis is 15 years old, this initiative focuses on the Film Board’s unique and indispensable role in the development of homegrown cinema and talent.

Federal MPs have the responsibility of giving us the resources to fulfill our mission,” said Serge Gaspard Gaudreau, president of one of the unions at the NFB. “These billboards are a direct means of communicating with elected MPs and their staff. They’ll have no choice but to think about us, and that will have an impact when they consider the budgetary allocations.” The billboards will be visible for a period of four weeks. Unionized Film Board employees have also created an e-mail tool enabling citizens to question their MPs about NFB funding.

For the past 15 years, the Film Board has, after repeated cutbacks, seen its budget slashed by 17%. These cuts have considerably undermined the NFB’s capacities to create and produce original films. Over the same period, this federal organization’s employees saw their ranks melt away like snow in the sun, dropping from 723 employees to only 356 in 2007.

Roger Frappier’s turn

After the testimonials of Benoît Pilon and Alanis Obomsawin, CUPE will post a video presenting Roger Frappier’s point of view on the importance of the NFB. In this vignette, the producer of La Grande séduction, The Decline of the American Empire and Un zoo la nuit points out that it was at the NFB that he learned his trade. For Roger Frappier, the Film Board represents the cinematographic memory of our people and the memory of documentary film and the art of animation. In his view, the NFB is a space offering essential freedom, where creation without commercial pressures is permitted. Roger Frappier concludes that the NFB can become the great institution it once was, provided there is a clear political vision to make this a reality.

It should be noted that in the next few weeks, four other personal testimonials presented in video vignettes will be posted by CUPE.

Since it was founded in 1939, the NFB has created more than 13,000 films, won over 5,000 awards, received more than 90 Genies, received over 70 Oscar nominations and garnered 12 Oscars.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is proud to have the NFB’s 260 employees and technicians among its members. With 7,000 members in the communications sector in Québec, CUPE-Québec is also present in a number of other sectors, including health and social services, education, urban transport, air transport, crown corporations and public agencies in Québec, hydroelectricity and municipalities. With more than 105,000 members, CUPE-Québec is the largest QFL-affiliate.

This press release and other information are available on the web site at scfp.qc.ca.

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Serge Gaspard Gaudreau, union office 514 283-4865
Alexandre Boulerice, 514 384-9681, ext. 270, cell. 514-668-7148