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Brian McKenna fonds
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Administration and personnel

The series provides information on Wartime Production Inc., a company Brian McKenna created with Susan Purcell and used for The Valour and the Horror. The series also provides information on people McKenna worked with or contracted for his documentaries.

It contains legal correspondence, an act of incorporation, financial statements, minutes, a curriculum vitae, memos, notes, and other documents. The series is organized into the following subseries:

P112/F1 Wartime Production Inc.
P112/F2 Personnel files and correspondence.

Awards

The series provides information on awards Brian McKenna received between 1972 and 1986. It contains correspondence, press clippings and an ACTRA Awards Programme

Brian McKenna fonds

  • P112
  • Fonds
  • 1908-1996, predominant 1945-1996

The Brian McKenna fonds provides detailed background on a large number of current events, issues, and personages of the second half of the twentieth century.

It consists of materials in a variety of formats accumulated by Brian McKenna in the course of research for, and production of, The Fifth Estate films and other projects. It includes research notes and materials for his articles and books, and documents his involvement as the Max Bell Fellowship visiting professor at the University of Regina School of Journalism, as well as his involvement with the Committee for Investigative Journalism. It also provides information on McKenna Purcell Productions Inc.

The fonds contains research notes, scripts, manuscripts, galley proofs, raw and final videotapes, transcripts of interviews and court hearings, and clippings related to most of the documentaries and film projects.

The fonds is organized into the following series:

P112/A Personal records and student activities
P112/B Journalist
P112/C Involvement in the journalistic community
P112/D Speeches
P112/E Awards
P112/F Administration and personnel
P112/G Documentaries
The largest series is Documentaries P112/G It is organized alphabetically according to the name of the series (e.g., The Fifth Estate) for which each proposed or actual documentary was intended.

McKenna, Brian

CBC Current Affairs, The Fifth Estate

The subseries provides information on documentaries Brian McKenna worked on or produced while working for The Fifth Estate from 1975 to 1989.

The series contains research materials, notes, scripts, drafts of documentaries and correspondence, court records, work copies of videos and other documents. The subseries includes the following documentaries:

Apparitions. - 1985-1986. - 0.01 m of textual records.
In January 1988 McKenna travelled to Yugoslavia to investigate the claims of six peasant children that they were experiencing apparitions of the Virgin Mary every day at 6:45 pm, and the impact on their small Serbian village.

Arnold Expedition Reenactment. - 1975-1991. - 0.05 m of textual records.
Belugas. - 1983-1988. - 0.03 m of textual records. - 1 videocassette.
The Fifth Estate film called Belugas documents attempts to save the small white whales from massive pollution of their St. Lawrence River habitat.

Bismark. -1987. - 0.005 m of textual records.
Bourrassa and Lévesque. - 1976, 1978. - 0.02 m of textual records.
Car Rackets. - 1972-1975. - 0.02 m of textual records.
In his first season at The Fifth Estate, McKenna produced Car Rackets, aninvestigation into corruption and cover-up in the auto industry.

The Cardinal. - 1972-1980. - 0.04 m of textual records. - 1 videocassette. - 1 photograph.
In 1979 McKenna produced a profile of Cardinal Paul-Émile Léger as he travelled to the Thai-Cambodian border to draw attention to the terrible plight of refugees fleeing the killing fields.

CBW. - 1983-1985. - 0.02 m of textual records.
Children of the Lost. - 1981-1984. - 0.02 m of textual records.
The story of two Argentine doctors attempting to heal the trauma in children whose parents were killed or disappeared by the security forces during the so-called dirty war.

Collaborators. - 1984-1994. - 0.55 m of textual records.
With researcher and associate producer Oleh Rumak, McKenna investigated how top Slovak officials from the Nazi Collaborationist government ended up in Canada. The film, code-named Slovaks II has not been shown to the public.

A Cruel Place. -1981. - 0.025 m of textual records. - 1 videocassette.
In January 1981, McKenna volunteered to cover the Civil War in El Salvador. The resulting documentary A Cruel Place documented the state-sponsored terrorism in that country.

Death of a Godfather. - 1986. - 1 videocassette.
A glimpse behind the scenes at the forces which brought down Canadian Mafia chieftain Paolo Violi. Contains a video of Cotroni's funeral.

Death Squad. - [198?]. - 0.005 m of textual records.
Death in Tripoli. - 1986-1988. - 0.15 m of textual records. - 1 videocassette. - 19 photographs.
Death in Tripoli is the story McKenna uncovered in 1988 when travelling to Khaddafi's Libya, on the violent and mysterious death of Canadian Christopher Halens, a young Southam journalist.

Empress of Ireland. - 1986. - 0.015 m of textual records.
In 1988, McKenna filmed a documentary on the Empress of Ireland, a Titanic -size steamship which sank in the St. Lawrence River, and is now being pillaged by scavenger hunters, including one who brought up a human skeleton.

Fallen Star. - 1979. - 0.005 m of textual records.
The history of the final days of the century-old newspaper, The Montreal Star.

Gypsies. - 1982-1984. - 0.005 m of textual records.
The Hooded Men. - 1979-1982. - 0.01 m of textual records.
The file provides information used for the documentary McKenna directed and co-wrote on the investigation of torture and torturers in Northern Ireland, Greece, Argentina and, Nicaragua. In 1982, when Argentina returned to democracy McKenna travelled back to Argentina to film The Hooded Men, also known as The Return, and took newspaper publisher Jacobo Timmerman back to the jail on the outskirts of Buenos Aires where he had been held and tortured.

In The Nick of Time. - 1978. - 1 videocassette.
In 1978 McKenna directed a film called In the Nick of Time, reporting on journalist politician Nick Auf der Maur's successful attempt to restructure the Los Angeles Olympics.

Iran Drug Film. - 1988-1989. - 0.005 m of textual records.
A Journey Back. - 1985-1987. - 0.02 m of textual records. - 1 videocassette.
In 1983 McKenna investigated Nazi collaborators hiding in Canada. The film focuses on the story of New York off-Broadway producer Jack Garfein. Garfein is brought back to his home town in Slovakia for the first time and then to the Auschwitz and Birkenhau death camps to discover his past. In the film Garfein confronts the gauleiter who had killed his family.

JFK Projects. - 1963-1996. - 0.28 m of textual records. - 5 photographs. - 3 videocassettes. - 1 audio cassette.
In 1978, McKenna wrote and directed the first national television documentary challenging the conclusions of the official report into the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1963. Dallas and After was followed by three more documentaries on new evidence: In 1979, Crossfire, reported the conclusion of a Congressional Committee that Kennedy was probably killed as the result of a conspiracy. The Coffin was Empty (198?) is a documentary on testimony that medical evidence was tampered with during and after the autopsy of Kennedy. McKenna produced Who Shot JFK?, a program summarizing the evidence, on the 20th anniversary of the assassination.

Lévesque in New York. - 1977. - 0.02 m of textual records.
McKenna filmed Lévesque in New York on Quebec's newly elected and first separatist premier's trip to New York to try to reassure nervous investors.

McGarr. - 1987-1988. - 0.04 m of textual records. - 16 videocassettes.
McGarr is an examination through the eyes of a Montréal street police officer of the stress that creates among police the highest rate of alcoholism, divorce and suicide of any profession.

Making of a Saint. - 1978. - 1 item of textual records. - 1 videocassette.
Marathon Man Jerome Drayton. - 1978. - 1 item of textual records.
Mirabel. - 1981. - 0.005 m of textual records.
The Money Pit. - 1986-1987. - 0.015 m of textual records.
A portrait and investigation of attempts made to find buried treasure in the mysterious and secret man-made passages of Nova Scotia's Oak Island

Murder of Hilda Murrer. -1984-1985. - 0.005 m of textual records.
A whodunnit investigation of the strange murder of this eccentric English country woman whose death may have been linked to secrets surrounding the sinking of the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano during the Falklands war.

Noah's Ark. - [ca. 1988]. - 3 videocassettes. - 1 item of textual records.
In January 1988, McKenna travelled to Turkey's Mount Ararat with astronaut James Irwin who was leading an expedition of Christian fundamentalist Americans in search of the remains of Noah's Ark. They were producing a film entitled The Search for Noah's Ark, to prove that the Bible and Creation story are literally true.

Ocean Ranger. - [198?]. - 1 videocassette.
The Old Man and C. - 1976-1988. - 0.01 m of textual records.
A profile of Nobel laureate Linus Pauling and his claims for the healing properties of Vitamin C.

Olympic Connection. - 1976. - 0.005 m of textual records. - 1 videocassette.
In his first season at The Fifth Estate (ca. 1975), McKenna started investigations of corruption during the construction for the 1976 Montréal Olympic Games, resulting in the show The Olympic Connection.

Olympic Tower. - [197?]. - 0.01 m of textual records.
Panzers on the Prairies. - 1987. - 0.03 m of textual records. - 5 maps.
Papa Plouffe. - [197?]. - 0.01 m of textual records. - 1 videocassette.
A profile of a character in Roger Lemelin's Les Plouffe series for CBC.

Peroff Mounties. - 197?. - 0.005 m of textual records.
Pipe Major. - 1986. - 0.015 m of textual records.
The Plot. - 1976-1981. - 0.025 m of textual records.
Political Corruption. - [197-]-[198-]. - 0.01 m of textual records.
The Power and the Glory. - 1972-1979. - 0.01 m of textual records. - 1 videocassette.
In 1979 McKenna produced a major inquiry into the politics surrounding the building of the James Bay Hydroelectric Project.

Referendums. - 1977-1981. - 0.045 m of textual records.
A documentary looking at referendums, including the 1948 vote that brought Newfoundland into Canadian Confederation and leading up to the 1980 referendum on Québec independence and sovereignty association and the Yvette women's movement, as well as the slick methods used in California referendums.

René Lévesque. - 1978-1980. - 0.005 m of textual records.
Richard Blass. - [198?]. - 0.005 m of textual records.
In his first season at The Fifth Estate (ca. 1975), McKenna started with a tough look at a mobster named Richard Blass.

Robert F. Kennedy. - [198?]. - 0.005 m of textual records.
The Rocket at 50. - [1976]. - 0.02 m of textual records.
In his first season at The Fifth Estate McKenna made a feature on hockey star Maurice The Rocket Richard as he turned 50.

Rosie Douglas. - [197?]. - 0.005 m of textual records.
A look at mobster Rosie Douglas.

Secret Cargo. - 1985-1996. - 0.5 m of textual records.
In 1979 McKenna co-wrote with Eric Malling and directed Secret Cargo (1980), a documentary investigation on allegations that Pakistan was attempting to smuggle and import through Canada and the United States key components for the construction of an Islamic atomic bomb.

Secret Test. - 1984-1988). - 0.1 m of textual records.
In 1984-1985, McKenna directed and co-wrote a film on the CIA-sponsored brainwashing experiments in the late '50s and early '60s on unsuspecting psychiatric patients at the Royal Victoria Hospital Allen Memorial Psychiatric Institute in Montréal.

Shooting the Messenger. - ca. 1981. - 1 videocassette.
In January 1981, while in El Salvador, McKenna produced the documentary called Shooting the Messenger, on the torture and murder of Latin American journalists and the occasional foreign correspondent.

State of Siege. - [1976?]. - 0.01 m of textual records.
This documentary is an inquiry into communist and fascist terrorism in Italy including the infamous Red Brigade.

Sunshine Soldiers. - 1980-1981. - 0.01 m of textual records.
The story of soldiers trained to make war doing a good job keeping the peace in Cyprus.

Veliotis. - 1986. - 0.01 m of textual records.
VIP. - [198-?]. - 0.005 m of textual records. - 1 videocassette.

CBC The City at 6

The subseries provides information on two short documentaries Brian McKenna produced between 1972 and 1974. It contains two incomplete scripts for The 1974 Municipal Election andThomas D'Arcy McGee. The subseries includes the following documentaries:

The 1974 Municipal Election. - Textual records.
Box number

HA 1151 (Textual records).
Thomas D'Arcy McGee. - Textual records.
In 1973, for CBC City at 6, McKenna wrote and directed his first film, a thirteen- minute story on the assassination of Thomas D'Arcy McGee.

CBC documentaries

The subseries provides information on three documentaries Brian McKenna produced for the CBC. It includes research material, work video, correspondence, notes and other records for the following documentaries:

And Then You Die. - 1985-1995. - 0.16 m of textual records. - 8 photographs: 3 slides. - 6 videocassettes.
In 1987, McKenna wrote and produced the feature-length docudrama for the CBC on the Montréal underworldAnd Then You Die . It was inspired by the true story of Irish gangsters in the West end of Montréal using Hell's Angels as mercenaries to build a cocaine empire. It was broadcast internationally and won a pair of Gemini awards.

Box numbers

HA 1151 (Textual records).
HA 1340 (Moving images).
FLQ. - 1969-1975. - 0.1 m of textual records.
Box number

HA 1115 (Textual records).
The Killing Ground. - 1987-1989. - 0.35 m of textual records. - 65 photographs. - 46 videocassettes. - 3 maps.
In April 1988, McKenna travelled to Europe to research a possible film on Canada in the First World War. The proposal was sold to CBC Current Affairs and resulted in The Killing Ground, a two-hour film on the 59,000 Canadians who died in the First World War. For this production, McKenna teamed up with his youngest brother Terence, a host on CBC's daily magazine show The Journal. The film won the Anik award for best CBC documentary in 1988. It led to the idea for The Valour and the Horror, which was based on a three-year inquiry into three Second World War battles.

Box numbers

HA 1115 (Textual records).
HA 1149 (Textual records).
HA 1198 (Moving images).
HA 1302 (Moving images).

CBC radio scripts

The subseries provides information on Brian McKenna's contribution to CBC radio in 1971. It contains scripts of news coverage of political activities at the time when McKenna was parliamentary correspondent in Ottawa.

Documentaries

The series provides information on documentaries Brian McKenna worked on throughout his career starting as research assistant, film-maker, and producer for CBC Current Affairs with The Fifth Estate, The City at 6, as well as his independent productions. The series contains most of the research material gathered in the preparation of documentaries as well as occasional comments, reviews and other feedback, and awards received. The series contains notes, scripts, manuscripts, videocassettes, interviews, press clippings, casting files, and other material.

The series is organized into the following sub-series:

P112/G1 Ideas and research notes
P112/G2 CBC radio scripts
P112/G3 CBC The City at 6
P112/G4 CBC documentaries
P112/G5 CBC Current Affairs, The Fifth Estate
P112/G6 Independently produced documentaries.

Ideas and research notes

The subseries provides information on documentaries submitted to or developed by Brian McKenna between 1974 and 1996. Most of these proposals were not produced or further developed.

The subseries contains notes, correspondence, press clippings, and other documents, on the following:

Going Home. -1986. - Textual records.
Irish Film. - 1983-1984. - Textual Records. - 1 photograph.
Korea. -1978. - Textual records.
Middle East. -1984. - Textual records.
Operation Neat Pitch. - 1974. - Textual records. - 5 photographs: 4 slides.
Roman's Armed Forces Film. - [198?]. - Textual records.
Sri Lanka, Tamils. - [198?]. - Textual records.
Vanishing Coffins. - 1986. - Textual records.
Weather Warfare '79. - 1978. - Textual records.
WWI Diary Play.-1994. - Textual records.

Independently produced documentaries

The subseries provides information on documentaries Brian McKenna worked on or produced as an independent producer.

The subseries contains research material, notes, scripts, drafts of documentaries, correspondence, court records, work copies of videos and other documents. The subseries includes the following documentaries:

Addiction for Sale. - 1993. - 0.01 m of textual records.
The Bribe or the Bullet. - 1985-1996. - 0.27 m of textual records. - 28 videocassettes. - 6 diskettes.
In October 1996 McKenna finished a documentary on the impact of narcotics trafficking on Mexico, called The Bribe or the Bullet.

Drapeau. - 1963-1986. - 0.96 m of textual records. - 1 photograph. - 15 audio cassettes.
In 1974 McKenna wrote and co-produced for CBC Current Affairs a one-hour film documentary on Montreal's mayor, entitled His Worship, Jean Drapeau.

Little Viper. - 1995. - 0.005 m of textual records.
Theatre Schmeatre. - 1985-1986. - 0.02 m of textual records.
Trudeau Memoirs. - 1991-1994. - 0.73 m of textual records. - 27 photographs. - 17 videocassettes.
In summer 1991, McKenna agreed to direct the television memoirs of Pierre Trudeau. He was contracted to develop and direct the research for the project, and he was then contracted to direct the five-part series for broadcast on both the French and English networks of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The producers were Les Productions la fête (owned by Rock Demers). The line producer was Kevin Tierney. Formal studio interviews followed Brian McKenna's overall development plan and were conducted in spring 1992 alternately by Jean-François Lépine in French and then by Terence McKenna in English (Day 1, English, Day 2, French for ten days). Sequences of encounters with a series of world leaders (including former presidents Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter, Cuban president Fidel Castro and former World Bank chief Robert McNamara) were directed by McKenna with periodic off-camera questions. Terence McKenna was contracted to write and deliver the narration in English. Jean-François Lépine delivered the French narration.

The Valour and the Horror. - 1983-1995. - 1.67 m of textual records. - 45 videocassettes. 16 maps. - 13 diskettes. - 4 photographs. - 6 audio cassettes.
Directed and co-written with his brother Terence McKenna, The Valour and the Horror summarizes a three- year inquiry into three Second World War battles. The films were honoured with five Gemini Awards.

The War Reporters. - 1983-1987. - 0.1 m of textual records. - 2 videocassettes. - 1 audio reel.
In 1981, McKenna directed and wrote for Toronto's Lauron Productions a feature-length documentary called The War Reporters on abuses suffered by journalists in Argentina, among them Jacobo Timmerman, as well as the danger and distress they face while covering war and revolution.

A Web of War. - 1993-1996. - 0.72 m of textual records. - 196 photographs: 1 negative. - 1 audio cassette. - 1 videocassette. - 1 map.
In 1995, with his brother Terence, McKenna completed another two documentary films on the Second World War. The producers were the same as The Valour and the Horror: Galafilm, the National Film Board and CBC. The films were The War at Sea (2 hours), a critical examination of Canadian naval leadership, and a one-hour documentary on the shared history of Poland and Canada in World War II, A Web of War. The second was an emotional tribute to the women of the Warsaw uprising, and the Polish division fighting under Canadian command which in one of the war's great epiphanies, freed 1,800 Warsaw women from a German POW camp. Some 300 marriages resulted from this liberation, and many emigrated to Canada. A Battle Lost gives the untold story of how Nazi U-Boats blockaded the St. Lawrence River during WWII, including an encounter between a U-Boat crewman and a stoker from a corvette.

World's Greatest Athletes. - 1976-1984. - 0.23 m of textual records. - 12 videocassettes. - 10 photographs.
In 1982-1983 McKenna developed an eight-part private series on sports champions for Filmsport International called Champions: the World's Greatest Athletes. The series explored the world and mythology of athletes such as hockey stars Wayne Gretzky and Russian Vladislav Tretiak, American football star Joe Montana, boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard, and baseball's Gary Carter, whom he took to Japan to encounter the world of Japanese baseball. McKenna produced, wrote and directed these four one-hour films personally, and he produced four others, recruiting four other documentary film-makers, including the Oscar winning John Zaritsky, to write and direct hours on tennis champion Bjorn Borg, horse racing legend Willie Shoemaker, Philadelphia basketball star Julius Erving, and the marathon runners Bill Rogers and Alberto Salazar.

Involvement in the journalistic community

The series provides information on Brian McKenna's involvement with the Latin American Committee, the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ), and the Committee to Protect Journalists (on human rights). It also includes his involvement as the Max Bell Fellowship professor at the University of Regina School of Journalism.

The series contains reports, publications, notes, and correspondence. The series is organized into the following subseries:

P112/C1 Involvement in Committees.
P112/C2 Max Bell Fellowship.

Journalist

The series provides information on Brian McKenna's journalistic career, from its beginning as reporter for the Loyola News and his regular writings in The Montreal Star. It contains many files of his assignments, especially as parliamentary correspondent in Ottawa and on the coverage of Expo '67 in Montreal. It also contains articles McKenna contributed to magazines and The Canadian Encyclopedia, and book reviews, as well as research material and the manuscript for his book on Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau. The series contains mainly newspaper clippings, newspapers, and notes. The series is organized into the following subseries:

P112/B1 Loyola News
P112/B2 The Montreal Star
P112/B3 Magazine and encyclopedia articles
P112/B4 Drapeau Book

Personal records and student activities

The series provides background information on Brian McKenna's education from his days at St. Thomas High School to Loyola College, as well as his experience as a Boy Scout. It also provides information on members of his family.

The series contains personal correspondence, curricula vitae, notes, essays, press clippings, and other documents.

Speeches

The series provides information on speeches and conferences given by Brian McKenna from 1981 to 1995. It contains speeches, documentation regarding and reviews of conferences, including the one for Cité libre on The Valour and the Horror, as well as a video of the Canadian National Debating Seminar of 1995 when Brian McKenna was asked to debate against a conservative economist on supporting the arts.