Counter-Hegemonic Discourse on the Working Class in National Film Board World War II Films


  • Malek Khouri University of Calgary


History, National Film Board, Khouri, HIC


For a long time, films produced by the National Film Board of Canada immediately after its establishment and up until the end World War II have been greatly neglected or simply dismissed as examples of Canadian war propaganda. These films represent an essentially counter-hegemonic outlook on the role of the working class in Canadian society. In this context, these films informed and were informed by the discourse of the Popular Front, an umbrella formation which at the time was initiated and led by supporters of the Communist Party of Canada, both inside and outside the labour movement. This paper brings to light an investigation and analysis of a wealth of archival film material from the initial years of the NFB, much of which either have been long forgotten or were, in fact, never really known. Against several earlier and unsubstantiated scholarly assumptions, this study delineates the ideological significance of the NFB's depiction of workers during this critical period in Canadian history.

Author Biography

Malek Khouri, University of Calgary

Malek Khouri (, assistant professor, is the co-ordinator of the Film Studies Program at the University of Calgary. Khouri's main area of work and research incorporates studying the representation of class in Canadian cinema. He is currently working on a Filmography of the National Film Board of Canada productions from its establishment to the present and its depiction of working class Canadians. He is also co-editing an anthology on the topic of class and Canadian cinema which will be published next year by a university press. Earlier publications by Khouri include studies on film and the application of the notion of hegemony, Marxism and film theory, and New Arab cinemas, among others.