An Oscar, two prizes at Cannes, two top feature awards at the Hot Docs documentary film festival in Toronto, the GSM Award for original mobile content and a nomination for an International Interactive Emmy Award: Tom Perlmutter reels off the successes of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), the agency he has just been appointed to lead.

"And that's just for the first six months of 2007," says Perlmutter. "That's a phenomenal record by any standard."

Perlmutter, who replaces Jacques Bensimon in the post, joined the NFB in 2001 as director general of the English programme. A veteran of the Canadian film scene, Perlmutter was the founding head of documentaries at Toronto production company Barna-Alper Productions and was a partner with Primitive Entertainment.

He also partnered on award-winning documentaries with celebrated film-maker John Walker. Prior to that he was director of creative development at CineNova Productions.

Since joining the NFB, Perlmutter is credited with revitalising the agency's documentary and animation programming, and forging international co-production partnerships.

The NFB occupies a strange place in the popular imagination of its own country: a grandfatherly figure, dutifully going about its business even if most Canadians have no clue what that might be. It is a malaise that afflicts many Canadian cultural institutions and enterprises - such as Telefilm Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts - not surprising given the all-pervasive influence of celebrity-focused US popular culture.

But the NFB's mandate, and hence Perlmutter's, transcends such ephemeral notions as celebrity and 'what's hot'.

"In terms of organising cinematic creation to foster innovation and creativity, the NFB is utterly unique. It's a gift to the world in that sense. It has done things no other organisation in the world has done."

The creativity, he might have added, has been recognised by 12 Academy Awards. The latest was Torill Kove's The Danish Poet, this year's best animated short winner, a co-production with Norway's Mikrofilm. Also, Madame Tutli-Putli, a stop-motion short co-directed by Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski, won two prizes at Cannes.

The innovation comes, in part, with the NFB's work in mobile content. In partnership with Toronto-based production company Marble Media and broadcaster Bravo!Fact, the board co-produced 10 original two-minute movies under the banner Shorts in Motion: the Art of Seduction, with several Canadian film-makers such as Guy Maddin, Denis Villeneuve and Mark McKinney.

"There's a whole future being driven in terms of digital but there are no established market mechanisms for financing some of the kinds of projects that can be done in that framework," says Perlmutter. "And yet it's absolutely crucial if Canada and Canadians want to have some kind of toe-hold in the future."