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A Closer Look: A Year of Celebration for the National Film Board of Canada

Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis' short film, "When The Day Breaks" won theGrand Prize (Goldene Taube) at the 42nd International Leipzig Festival forDocumentary & Animated Films (Germany). This recent award is just anotheraccolade in "When The Day Breaks'" dazzling international career, whichstarted with the Palme d'Or for best short film at the 52nd CannesInternational Film Festival in Cannes, France, last June. "When The DayBreaks" also won the coveted Grand Prix for best animated short film atAnnecy '99, and the Gold Hugo Award, animated short film category, at the35th Chicago International Film Festival.

"When The Day Breaks" is a labor of love. It took four years for AmandaForbis and Wendy Tilby to finish the softly colored, wordless, but musical,story of a pig whose world shifts after a car accident kills a stranger onher block. They began the production by shooting High-8 video of the actionusing real people. Forbis put on a cardboard chicken beak, and then Tilbyshot it. Then the footage was divided into individual frames andphotocopied. The two filmmakers penciled and colored each image, turningpeople into pigs and other animals.

"When The Day Breaks" is just one of the many brilliant animated shortsproduced by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). The NFB wasestablished in 1939 to improve Canadian Government Motion Picture Bureauproductions and to increase their distribution in England. Its first filmcommissioner was British documentary filmmaker John Grierson. NormanMcLaren joined the NFB's Animation Studio in 1941. Over 6,000 titles --documentaries, animation and live-action films -- have been produced at theNFB in the past sixty years. The NFB has received more than twenty AcademyAward nominations, and four Oscars for its animated shorts: NormanMcLaren's "Neighbours" (1952); Co-Hoedmann's "Sand Castle" (1977); EugeneFedorenko's "Every Child" (1979) and Alison Snowden & David Fine's "Bob'sBirthday" (1994). Wendy Tilby herself was nominated in 1991 for "Strings."With the exceptional accomplishments of its animation studios, the NFBdeserves to celebrate its 60th anniversary with honor and grace. For twelvemonths beginning last May, a plethora of prestigious events are honouringthe NFB, its rich past and powerful impact. Various Canadian televisionchannels are airing NFB productions throughout this anniversary year at therate of over a hundred hours per month. Tributes at international festivalsare also honouring the NFB with special retrospectives, tributes andexhibitions. Other interesting events include a partnership with Air Canadawhich is offering in-flight screenings with an overview of sixty years ofNFB productions. A special upcoming event is an Anniversary Salute to theNFB by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Thursday,November 18, 1999. Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis will be attending theevent, as well as a series of screenings in Los Angeles and the Bay area(see "site news" above). Don't miss this opportunity to meet the directorsof the extraordinary "When The Day Breaks!"

Don Duga's review of The Annecy International Animation Film Festival '99 includes a Quicktime clip of "When the Day Breaks."

For information about Alison Snowden and David Fine, visit their web site on Animation World Network.

Alison Snowden and David Fine's prime time animated show "Bob AndMargaret," was reviewed by Maureen Furniss in the July 1998 issue of Animation World Magazine:

Original production cels from one of the NFB's most beloved animatedshorts, Richard Condie's "The Big Snit," are available for purchaseexclusively in the Animation World Store.