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NFB Showcases 9 Shorts at Ottawa Festival

The National Film Board of Canada will present nine new shorts at the event's 33rd edition (Oct. 14–18), three of them in competition.

The National Film Board of Canada will present nine new shorts at the event's 33rd edition (Oct. 14–18), three of them in competition. The line-up displays a variety of inventive techniques and powerful themes, continuing the NFB tradition of innovation and excellence in animation art. On top of the festival's official selection of new productions, the OIAF has curated a special Rarities program of seldom seen NFB classics to celebrate its 70th.anniversary. The NFB will also present the Public Prize.

Among other themes, NFB films selected for this year's OIAF probe lost and regained love (Oscar winner Chris Landreth's THE SPINE (http://www.awn.com/articles/profiles/chris-landreth-talks-ithe-spinei) and the perverse human drive toward chaos (Oscar nominee Cordell Barker's RUNAWAY. With classics such as NEIGHBOURS (1952) and stunning recent films such as MADAME TUTLI-PUTLI (2008), the NFB has shown that animation shorts pack considerable expressive power into their brief running times. NFB films, deploying techniques ranging from traditional hand-made animation to adventurous digital innovation, provoke strong emotions and thoughtful discussion with their eye-opening, witty and sometimes very funny explorations of life on earth.

Barker's RUNAWAY, the Winnipeg-based filmmaker's highly anticipated third collaboration with the NFB, is a provocative, hilarious follow-up to his zany Oscar-nominated THE CAT CAME BACK (1988) and STRANGE INVADERS (2001). In RUNAWAY, Barker takes a hard look at reality and asks sardonically: What would happen if the world were a driverless train thundering recklessly over bumpy tracks? Produced by Michael Scott and Derek Mazur for the NFB, the film's wild ride careens to music by Benoît Charest, whose score for THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE contributed to that film's frantic rhythm.

RUNAWAY rolls into Ottawa after stops at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Petit Rail d'Or for Best Short, and the Annecy International Animation Festival, which granted the film a Special Jury Prize.

In Alcock's bittersweet VIVE LA ROSE, an ancient chanson performed by the late Newfoundland musician Emile Benoit is brought to life with melancholic passion. A woman dies in the film and a simple man devastated by loss sings to her in a last farewell. Co-produced by Tina Ouellette (Global Mechanic) and Annette Clarke and Michael Fukushima (NFB), Alcock's first NFB collaboration is a spectacular animation filmed on location, with available light, in Newfoundland. Fishhooks, shells, driftwood and rocks lend the mixed-media short an unusual texture. The film uses a unique visual triptych design to amplify the song's emotions while honouring land, sea and the harsh lives of local fishermen.

In Phillip Eddolls' GIT GOB, produced by the NFB's Michael Fukushima and associate produced by Maral Mohammadian within the Hothouse 5 program for emerging animators, two creatures ponder the meaning of a hole. The fuzzy, brightly colored humanoids have different points of view. Their debate leads to an idea that changes the world. This is a story of practical magic, whimsy with a cosmic conclusion.

Landreth's THE SPINE, the director's eagerly awaited follow-up to his groundbreaking, Oscar-winning RYAN (2004), wooed spectators at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival and was named Best of the Festival at Melbourne's animation event. Like RYAN, THE SPINE raises the bar on the ability of digital animation to probe deeply into human emotions, merging realism with surrealism in the director's trademark "psychorealist" style. A National Film Board of Canada production in Association with Copperheart Animation and C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures, the film is a strangely beautiful and highly original look at a man and a woman trapped in a spiral of mutual destruction after 26 years of marriage. The NFB's Marcy Page produced the short with Copperheart's Steve Hoban and Mark Smith. The production also benefited from the creative participation of Autodesk Canada CO. and Seneca College School of Communication Arts.

BATMILK is a comically macabre film about an oafish ghoul who faces ruin when his soft exposed brain is unexpectedly killed. A bizarre form of predatory behaviour feeds the ghoul with new life. Entirely different in mood and animation style, PEARL is a tender film about longing and memory in the aged. A lonely old lady sits in an empty room, knitting. As her thoughts wander, her dreams take the shape of fanciful knitted creatures and objects that cocoon her in a pattern of wonder and comfort.

Cédric Louis and Claude Barras' LAND OF THE HEADS swoops into Ottawa with dark, dense, and funny images reminiscent of Tim Burton's expressionist animation. Parodying classic horror films, the film is a ghoulishly funny children's story about a vampire forced to go out every night to separate kids from their heads. Why? His vain, domineering wife wants to replace her wrinkled head with a young and pretty one. LAND OF THE HEADS was coproduced by Michael Fukushima (NFB) and Claude Barras (Hélium Films).

Commissioned by the NFB for the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards Foundation, Howie Shia's PEGGY BAKER FOUR PHRASES is a brief animated documentary that blends spare live-action with swirling animation to depict Canadian dance legend Peggy Baker's view of the intersection between her art and life. Produced by Fukushima (NFB), the film was created to celebrate Baker at the Governor General's Performing Arts Award gala.

In Inés Sedan's accomplished first film, THE MAN WHO SLEPT, a young woman gazes lovingly at her husband, who sleeps day and night. But the slumbering body is only a memory, one that becomes increasingly oppressive. This vibrantly textured animated film is a work about resilience. It takes us on a journey through darkness toward a new awakening. THE MAN WHO SLEPT was co-produced by Ron Dyens and Aurélia Prévieu (Sacrebleu Productions, France), Marcel Jean and Galilé Marion-Gauvin (L'Unité centrale) and Marc Bertrand (NFB).

The Rarities program will include Guy Glover's LINING THE BLUES(1939) Jim McKay's BID IT UP SUCKER (1944), George Dunning's CADET ROUSELLE (1947), Colin Low's THE ROMANCE OF TRANSPORTATION IN CANADA (1952), Gerald Potterton's MY FINANCIAL CAREER (1962), Eliot Noyes' ALPHABET(1966), Yvon Mallette's BOOMSVILLE (1968), George Geertsen's KLONDIKE GOLD (1980), Donald McWilliams'  ALOUD BAGATTE (1983), John Weldon's THE LUMP (1991), Anita Lebeau's LOUISE (2003) and Paul Morstad's WALKING CATFISH BLUES (2004).