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NFB Announces Hothouse 11 Participants

For the first time, Hothouse animators will be able to work with NFB’s Oscar-winning Animation Studio via their closest NFB production center.

MONTREAL -- The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) has announced the six participants in the 11th season of its Hothouse program for emerging Canadian animators, a 12-week paid apprenticeship working with the NFB’s Oscar-winning Animation Studio.

For the first time, Hothouse participants will be able to work remotely with Montreal’s Animation Studio through their nearest NFB production centre. The Hothouse lineup boasts a roster of emerging talent that truly spans the country: Curtis Horsburgh from Victoria, Rhayne Vermette from Winnipeg, Catherine Dubeau and Pascaline Lefebvre from Montreal, Lorna Kirk from Halifax, and Duncan Major from St. John’s.

The mentoring director of Hothouse 11 is Malcolm Sutherland, a Montreal-based director, animator and designer for film, television, web commercials and music videos. A Calgary native and participant in the very first Hothouse, he’s the first alumnus to return as project mentor. The theme is “Found Sound 2.0,” a reboot of last year’s successful theme in which producers trawled the Internet for audio clips that were intriguing and unusual, offering them up as creative fodder.

Hothouse 11 is being produced for the NFB’s Animation Studio by Maral Mohammadian with Jon Montes as associate producer. Teri Snelgrove (associate producer, BC & Yukon Studio, Vancouver), Alicia Smith (producer, North West Studio, Winnipeg), Paul McNeill (producer, Atlantic Studio, Halifax), and Kelly Davis (associate producer, Atlantic Studio, St. John’s) will be working with participants in their respective territories.

“Hothouse has become an annual jolt to the NFB system. It’s a finely-tuned playground with a solid structure that gives us confidence to take leaps and try new things,” Mohammadian commented. “It’s an old-school apprenticeship -- so rare these days -- that after this edition will have spawned 70 professional animation filmmakers in three countries and three producers, myself included. The bonus is that the films even garner critical attention, including a recent special mention for Best Canadian Animation at the Ottawa International Animation Festival (for Focus by Alex Boya) and a Jutra nomination (for All the Rage by Alexandra Lemay).”

In addition to Sutherland, some of Canada’s most acclaimed animators got their start in Hothouse, including Patrick Doyon, nominated for an Oscar for his NFB animated short Sunday/Dimanche, and Howie Shia, whose NFB short Flutter received the Open Entries Grand Prize at the Tokyo Anime Awards. A total of 64 short films have been produced to date through Hothouse and are available for viewing, along with info about past program participants, at the NFB’s Hothouse website.

Hothouse 11 – participant bios

Catherine Dubeau (Montreal)

Catherine fell in love with animation the moment she saw her drawings come to life for the first time. It was not great animation, it was not even a particularly nice drawing, but the moment felt magical. After nurturing her newfound passion for three years at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Catherine is now constantly looking for new ways to discover and grow within the eerie and beautiful world that is the animated film.

Curtis Horsburgh (Victoria)

Based in Victoria, Curtis Horsburgh is a mixed-media animation artist from Calgary. His work is an experimental mixture of traditional and digital mediums including marbling ink, spray paint, sculpture, 2D, and stop-motion animation. His raw design style and absurd doodles can be found on, his continuous-image blog.

Lorna Kirk (Halifax)

Lorna Kirk has been immersed in film and television since earning her master’s degree in Film from the University of Manchester in 1999. Her award-winning film A Little Bit of Freedom screened at the 53rd Cannes Film Festival as part of the Kodak Emerging Filmmaker Showcase and has been presented at film festivals around the world. She has directed documentaries and children’s television series for the CBC and recently started using animation in her short films. She continues to find new ways and methods of bringing stories to life.

Pascaline Lefebvre (Montreal)

Born in Edmonton but now living in Montreal, Pascaline earned her BFA in graphic design from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). She works as a comic book artist and freelance illustrator for various clients, including Montreal’s La Presse. Pascaline recently completed the De Liceiras 18 Temporary Art Community Residency in Porto, Portugal.

Duncan Major (St. John’s)

Based in St. John’s, Duncan is a graphic designer, lucky husband, and recent dad. A teenage apprenticeship as a “printers’ devil” led Duncan to found his own imprint, Walpurgis Press, producing cards, prints and books with an eye to the offbeat. In 2010, Duncan began his graphic design, illustration, and animation career at Perfect Day, creating work for a wide range of clients. As a linocut artist, Duncan has illustrated seven books, most recently, The Card Game (Running the Goat Books & Broadsides, 2015) and The Bears Come to Tea (walking bird press, 2015).

Rhayne Vermette (Winnipeg)

Rhayne Vermette is an artist from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Interested in images and animation that challenge architectural conventions, Rhayne roots her practice in notions of decadence and the indeterminate. Favouring the experimental, her 16mm films confront the documentary form, often merging the insipid with the surreal. The self-taught Rhayne has had her films screened across the globe, including at the Chicago Underground Film Festival, Images Film Festival, and the European Media Arts Festival.

Source: The National Film Board of Canada

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Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.