Share a special moment from Bill's life.

Brother Bill

Shared by Sylvia Spring on January 14, 2021
BROTHER BILL (in the time of COVID 2021)
Brother Bill/Sister Syl
Small town wandering Jews
You to Montreal/Vancouver/Toronto/London
Me to Buffalo/Toronto/Vancouver/Paris/NYC
Routing via Galiano
Digging deep roots
Yours Jessica
Mine doggy...Heady
Film - Feminism - Family shared
Until...until our flight/fight
Time heals
We make deals
Love matters most 
Wandering small town Jews 
Billy - Sylly
Roots matter...routes too 
We will meet again Fading out on islands too/two 

The Canadian Documentary Community remembers Bill Nemtin

Shared by Andrea Nemtin on January 13, 2021
Published in Realcrean and re-printed in Playback 

Bill Nemtin, filmmaker and executive producer of Achilles Media’s History Makers conference, has passed away at the age of 77.

As an award-winning documentary producer, Nemtin’s career first took flight at the National Film Board of Canada, where he began as a coordinator of its Challenge for Change program in the late 1960s. The program gave communities access to film and video to promote social change and featured nine films directed by IMAX co-founder and Canadian documentarian Colin Low.

Nemtin went on to work with many PBS stations in the U.S. while in Canada and in the UK, putting together international coproductions. Among the award-winning documentaries he produced and created are the Gemini-winning The Hand of Stalin, produced with John Walker Productions, PTV Productions and October Films for the BBC in 1990; The War of 1812, produced for the NFB by PTV Productions and Galafilm; and 2008′s Passage, produced once more by John Walker Productions and PTV Productions, and shortlisted for a Grierson Award for best historical documentary.

In 2008, Nemtin worked with Canadian events company Achilles Media as executive producer for the History Makers conference, which brought together producers and network executives from around the world working in the history, current affairs and documentary genres. The event was rebranded as the Impact Media Summit in 2013.

“Bill made History Makers the vibrant ‘must attend’ gathering for producers during the ‘golden age’ when cable channels offered history-packed schedules and before they switched their focus to reality series,” recalled consultant and publisher Peter Hamilton of in a statement to Realscreen.

Over the past two decades, Nemtin lived in the UK, and after retiring from active production work in 2013, worked as an executive consultant. At the age of 70 he returned to his love of performance and launched a stand-up comedy routine under the stage name Buzz Newman. At 75, he began writing about his mentor and the founder of the National Film Board, John Grierson.

Nemtin passed away on Friday, January 8 in the United Kingdom.

In a statement provided to Realscreen, Claude Joli-Coeur, government film commissioner and chairperson of the NFB, said the film body was “greatly saddened” by the news of Nemtin’s passing.

“The NFB’s 80th anniversary in 2019 gave us a chance to work with Bill again when he presented the illustrated talk ‘My Grierson’ in collaboration with Hot Docs, and we’re grateful that we could reconnect with him on a very special event,” he said.

“His commitment to Challenge for Change helped to transform how the NFB worked with communities — and continues to do so to this day. Our current engagement with Canadian communities in participatory media, our use of new digital technologies to put creation into the hands of citizens, all this and more is part of Bill’s living legacy.”

Nemtin is survived by his wife Jane Drabble; his children, Andrea Nemtin, Jessica Martin and Tito Martin Nemtin; grandchildren James and Charlie, and brothers Howard, Steve and Stuart.

His daughter, Andrea, also worked on several of the above projects via PTV Productions, where she was president and CEO. Currently the executive director for Social Innovation Canada, she supplied a statement to Realscreen in remembrance of her father.

“My father taught me a lot about being in the world, and everything I know about producing, what was important and what wasn’t: people are important, content is important, the big picture matters, the small stuff doesn’t. On behalf of the family, we will miss him terribly, but carry the warmth of his smile and the sound of his laugh with us.”

The family has set up a fund to honor his legacy. Donations can be made in his name to C4C Canada via Canada Helps or 44 Alcina Avenue, Toronto, M6G2E8.

A new way to solve some of your town’s old problems: see yourself as others do, on miles of film

Shared by Andrea Nemtin on January 13, 2021
A new way to solve some of your town’s old problems: see yourself as others do, on miles of movie film.
BILL NEMTIN is a young Turk at the National Film Board who’s convinced he’s helping discover a new and exciting purpose for the motion-picture camera. To him, the camera is no longer just a means of bringing information or entertainment to a screen, but a tool for reshaping society.

As a co-ordinator of the NFB’s Challenge for Change program, Nemtin is ore of the architects of what could be dubbed the Feedback Revolution, a movement that opens up a whole new world for film-makers. What they do is move into a community and film people just as they are — expressing their hopes, fears and gripes, and going about their regular affairs/ Then the film-makers screen the results to let the residents see themselves and their problems in a way they’ve never seen them before.

For most communities, the experience can be something approaching trauma, but it’s a potentially effective way for a town to find a cure for what ails it. Prejudices, bureaucratic bungling and corruption are brought out in the open and seen for what they are. The next natural step is for the people of the community themselves to start searching out new solutions. That’s the theory.

The NFB is involved in several Feedback projects. The largest of these has been at Fogo Island, a fishing community off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, where 5,000 inhabitants lived in quiet poverty — about 60 percent were on welfare — until an NFB crew moved in and set up cameras in such colorfully named villages as Joe Batts Arm and Little Seldom. In co-operation with Memorial University in St. John’s, the crew, under Colin Low, spent the summer of 1967 on Fogo Island, shooting more than 20 hours of film. This was pared down to six hours, composed of 23 films of varying lengths, under such titles as Jim Decker Builds a Longliner and The McGraths at Home and Fishing. When the editing was completed, the crew returned to the island to show residents the films.

“In some instances they were quite hostile to us,” Nemtin recalls. “One clergyman felt we were competing with him in a power struggle. We seemed to be gaining more attention than his sermon and he went to great lengths to denounce us.”

Even so, the islanders trooped in to see 35 screenings. A typical evening would begin with a light, entertaining film, followed by one or two films on local issues, such as fishing co-operatives, or education; these would be

discussed and sometimes volatile arguments would break out. Then to calm tempers and leave a good aftertaste, the NFB would end the evening with another light film.

Since the screenings, Fogo islanders have formed one new fishing co-operative and a central school committee. “More important,” says Nemtin, “there’s a new cohesive spirit among the islanders, a desire to help themselves.”

The Fogo islanders also found the films a vivid way to present their beefs to the Newfoundland government. Cabinet members who saw the films described them as “honest and constructive” and action was taken on some of the islanders’ complaints.

Feedback is also at work in Alberta. Two Indian film crews, trained by the NFB, have filmed Indians in their customary surroundings, then stormed into government offices with cans of developed film under their arms, to show how dismally treated Indians are.

In one incident, the crew walked into a welfare agency office at High Prairie to interview an official about a serious food problem among Métis at Loon Lake. After heated words, they were thrown out of the office, but the camerawoman, a pretty Haida Indian named Barbara Wilson, remained cool-headed enough to film the heave-ho.

In a controversial Feedback project at Halifax, NFB director Rex Tasker filmed Halifax’s militant blacks airing their views and got the results screened before a mixed audience of blacks and whites. At once, Haligonians were debating their racial problems with new terms of reference.

Mayor Allan O’Brien took a personal interest in the film, arranging screenings for municipal leaders and business groups in Halifax and Dartmouth. As a result, an agency was set up to help Negro students find summer jobs. The film also brought about a dialogue between the militant youth and the conservative older members of the Negro community, who previously had little contact with each other.

And at St. Jerome, P.Q., where a serious unemployment problem exists, NFB director Fernand Dansereau filmed shut-down factories, a strike meeting and daily activities of the people, then brought the reels back to the community. He says he is so pleased with the results that he may never again make any other kind of film.

(Wherever possible, the expense of

Feedback is being written off by whittling the material down into short fiLms suitable for theatrical distribution. But Nemtin points out that this is just a byproduct; the main purpose is still the feedback of films to the community.)

Already Feedback is being noticed outside Canada. Colin Low and Julian Biggs, former director of English production at the NFB, have taken a

year’s leave of absence to help several racially mixed communities for the United States office of economic opportunity.

“Soon this will be an accepted form of expression,” Nemtin believes. “Communities everywhere will be using film and its feedback as a tool to strike at the heart of society’s problems. Film in the community will be like a living newspaper.” DON BELL

Shared by Pat Phillips on January 12, 2021
we won that race!! It was a legit BYQ season race!!
Shared by Pat Phillips on January 12, 2021
Diets?  Haha. Andy and Bill were weak.  Weak in the face of icecream.
Shared by Pat Phillips on January 12, 2021
So we all like to check out the Prince Edward County wineries when we had our visits
Shared by Pat Phillips on January 12, 2021
Think they might be examining the back end of that horse?  They were very silly together
Shared by Pat Phillips on January 12, 2021
Hi, our love for Bill and all the visits Jane and he gave us as gifts.  Here are a few of out times together.  They were full of laughter and silliness and love.  As I find the pictures I will share their smiles.  Love to you all and miss our sweet man.

last letter to Dad

Shared by Andrea Nemtin on January 9, 2021
Hey Dad,

it's your son.

I know you've probably had your share of punishing trips to the hospital, but this probably has got to be one of the all-time worst, huh?

I'm thinking about you all the time. By which I mean I'm trying very hard not to think about you, because there's nothing I can realistically do but pray, and I don't know if I have a Lois or Louise or whatever you named your guardian angel anymore. (Do you remember telling me that story?) I haven't believed in magic for such a long time now.

I guess that's part of what is contributing to my nigh-lizard brain panic: No fancy platitudes, no meaningless garbling that "We're all on our special journeys." No religion. Just fear and worry, because I need to see you again. This past year has just sucked too much for it to pull us all apart forever, your know?

I wish I could talk to you. I hope this letter at least sounds like me, so you can know I'm here, I'm safe on Galiano and everything is fine and all right in my life right now, with one notable exception--you can probably guess!

One day when you get out of the hospital, there is this game I'd want to try showing you called the Outer Wilds. It's a very quirky game with campfires, banjos and space ships, where you explore a tiny solar system on a vessel seemingly held together by wood and duct tape, and you talk to blue aliens who look just like you. And you try to explore the small system of planets as fast and as thoroughly as you can, because the sun is about to go supernova and destroy all life--but then once everything dies, time reverses and you're thrust back to the beginning of the game, with total recall of your past life, and you launch back up to try and solve the mystery of why the star system is collapsing.

It's a really pretty, quirky, fun game, but I can immediately tell there's something deeply poignant and sad about it. You have this scanner on your ship that can detect the music of all the lonely spacefarers on these isolated planets, playing their instruments, and if you line them up just right, you realize that the song they're playing is in perfect harmony with one another. It feels and sounds like a love song to the universe.

I get the feeling that there's some lesson in the game about accepting the end which comes for us all, but I can't get very far in the game--because I'm not ready to learn that, Dad. I don't want to do it by myself, go on this space voyage against the inevitable, because I cry so easily at the thought of loss. I'm terrified by how strong those feelings are in me. I can't cry over another goddamn video game again. It's been happening way too often.

Anyway... Jane's probably going to be forced to read all this stuff, so maybe I'll stop there and give you both a break. I'm thinking about you, of course I'm thinking about you, and I hope your body is gonna pull through for you. I have this glimmering hope that it will. You've already made it through some incredible stuff, Dad, and your brushes with the hereafter never seem to slow you down. You're an inspiration to me.

I love you so very, very much.

See you soon, as soon as I can.

-Tito MN

(Link to "Travelers" from the Outer Wilds OST)

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