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Seven NFB Films to Screen at 17th Annual Sommets du Cinéma D’animation

Oscar-winners Snowden and Fine’s hilarious ‘Animal Behaviour’ and pinscreen gem ‘Embraced’ lead National Film Board’s impressive festival roster.   

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is bringing a strong, diverse selection of short film to the 17th annual Sommets du cinéma d’animation festival, being held in Montreal from November 21 to 25, including seven productions and co-productions, two of which are in the International Competition section: Étreintes (Embraced) by young filmmaker Justine Vuylsteker, the first film created on the Épinette, the recently restored pinscreen in France, and Animal Behaviour by world-renowned, Oscar-winning animators Alison Snowden and David Fine.

The NFB is also contributing to multidisciplinary events such as a master class given by Clyde Henry (Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski), entitled “The Music of Puppets,” and a show for the stage called Winsor et Gertie, written by Donald Crafton with multiple creative collaborators. Four NFB shorts have also been selected for the festival’s Quebec + Canada Panorama section: I’m OK by Elizabeth Hobbs, Le sujet (The Subject) by Patrick Bouchard, Caterpillarplasty by David Barlow-Krelina, and Turbine by Alex Boya. Bêtes de famille (Freaks of Nurture) by Alexandra Lemay will screen in the Youth Program. The NFB will also be contributing to various networking events presented as part of the Sommets du cinéma d’animation.

International Competition

Étreintes (Embraced), Justine Vuylsteker (6 min)

  • Standing still in front of an open window, a woman stares out at the dark clouds that obscure the sky. Immobile, she struggles against her memories of the past. In the clouds, the image of a passionate embrace appears.
  • This is the first film made entirely using the Épinette, the Alexeïeff-Parker pinscreen in France, and it was created in France and Montreal during three creative residencies.
  • Justine Vuylsteker is the inheritor, via filmmakers Michèle Lemieux and Jacques Drouin, of expertise developed on the pinscreen at the NFB, which for many decades was the only place in the world where the technique was in use.

Animal Behaviour, Alison Snowden and David Fine (14 min)

  • Five animals meet regularly to discuss their inner angst in a group therapy session led by Dr. Clement, a canine psychotherapist.
  • The film was screened at the Annecy and Ottawa festivals and won the Short Film Grand Prize at the 2018 Anima Mundi International Animation Festival, as well as the Audience Choice Award at the Festival du cinéma international en Abitibi-Témiscamingue.
  • Alison Snowden and David Fine’s Bob’s Birthday won the 1994 Oscar for Best Animated Short Film.

The Music of Puppets: Masterclass with Clyde Henry (Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski)

  • In an intimate and theatrical setting, Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski, whose directing credits include the NFB’s Madame Tutli-Putli, will discuss the importance of music in animation in this extensive five-hour masterclass beginning at 10 a.m. on Thursday, November 22.
  • They will be inviting three composers (John Kameel Farah, Jean-Frédéric Messier and Patrick Watson) with whom their collaborations span three periods of their creative output: the past, the present and the near future.

Winsor et Gertie by Donald Crafton

  • At the initiative of David L. Nathan, a leading expert on the work of U.S. animation pioneer Winsor McCay, experts Donald Crafton (University of Notre Dame) and Marco de Blois (Cinémathèque québécoise) led a team (which included Luc Chamberland and NFB professionals Eloi Champagne and Sylvie Marie Fortier) in restoring the original version of McCay’s animated short Gertie the Dinosaur.
  • This extraordinary reconstruction will be presented as a theatrical performance, written by Donald Crafton, on Sunday, November 25 at 5:30 p.m. Stéphane Crête will portray Winsor McCay and Sébastien René will play Robert, his son and assistant. Gabriel Thibaudeau will accompany them at the piano, performing his newly composed original score.

Quebec-Canada Panorama

I’m OK, Elizabeth Hobbs (6 min)

  • Following the end of a stormy love affair, Expressionist artist Oskar Kokoschka enlists in the First World War. After suffering serious injuries in battle, he experiences a series of memories and visions as medics transport him through the forests of the Russian front.
  • The film has screened at the Annecy and Ottawa festivals.

Le sujet (The Subject), Patrick Bouchard (10 min)

  • An animation filmmaker searches his own body for memories, emotions, and fears to inspire his work.
  • The only Canadian film shown at the Cannes festival this year, Le sujet has also screened at the Annecy, Toronto and Ottawa festivals.

Caterpillarplasty, David Barlow-Krelina (5 min)

  • Fusing elements of Kafka and Kubrick, Caterpillarplasty is a prescient, grotesque sci-fi satire that lifts plastic surgery to another level.
  • The film was screened at the International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen, Germany, where it garnered an Ecumenical Jury Special Mention, and at the Ottawa festival.

Turbine, Alex Boya (8 min)

  • A pilot crash-lands into his home. His face has been replaced by a turbine and he’s fallen in love with a ceiling fan. To save their marriage, his wife must take drastic action.
  • Best Animation Short at the 2018 New York City Short Film Festival (NYC Shorts).

Youth Program

Bêtes de famille (Freaks of Nurture), Alexandra Lemay (6 min 30 s)

  • A stop-motion film about a mother-daughter relationship bursting at the seams with babies, poodles and flying spaghetti.
  • Best Comedy Short at the 2018 New York City Short Film Festival (NYC Shorts).
  • The mother is voiced in French by Anne Dorval.

NFB contributions to networking events during the Sommets

  • Friday, November 23 at 2 p.m. – Panel: The Challenges of Independent Animated Film Distribution. Panelists: Eric Beckman (GKids, U.S.) and Luce Grosjean (Miyu Distribution, France). Moderator: Michael Fukushima (NFB).
  • Friday, November 23 at 5:30 p.m. – Presentation of Residents’ Projects. Earlier this fall, six residents from various countries, each mentored by a professional, began residencies at the Cinémathèque québécoise, developing animation projects. They will show the results of their work.
  • Sunday, November 25 at 12:30 p.m. – Panel: Gertie’s Reconstruction. Reconstituting Gertie the Dinosaur in its original version, created for the vaudeville stage, required an enormous amount of work. Panelists: Eloi Champagne, animation technical director at the NFB, and filmmaker Luc Chamberland, who recreated some 250 drawings missing from extant versions of the film.

Source: National Film Board of Canada