TheNFB at the 2020 Vancouver Film Fest!

6 Sep

The world premiere of Sundance award-winning Vancouver filmmaker Jennifer Abbott’s new feature doc The Magnitude of All Things (Cedar Island Films/Flying Eye Productions/NFB) tops a powerful lineup of National Film Board of Canada (NFB) produced and co-produced documentary and animation at the 2020 Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF), taking place September 24 to October 7.

Two NFB feature docs by acclaimed creators are also making their BC debuts:

  • Inconvenient Indian by Michelle Latimer, a filmmaker, producer, writer and activist of Algonquin, Métis and French heritage.
  • John Ware Reclaimed by Cheryl Foggo, a Calgary-born filmmaker, author and playwright whose work often focuses on the Black Canadian experience.

The festival is presenting two NFB animated shorts:

  • The Great Malaise by Quebec animator and illustrator Catherine Lepage.
  • The Fake Calendar by Meky Ottawa, from the Atikamekw Nation in Quebec, produced through the Hothouse program.

The Magnitude of All Things 

(World Premiere) When Jennifer Abbott lost her sister to cancer, her sorrow opened her up to the profound gravity of climate breakdown. The Magnitude of All Things draws intimate parallels between the experiences of grief—both personal and planetary. We are getting tories from the frontlines of climate change in Northern Canada, Australia, Ecuador, Sweden and England merge with recollections from the filmmaker’s childhood on Ontario’s Georgian Bay. What do these stories have in common? The answer, surprisingly, is everything.

BC-based Abbott has been making films about urgent social, political and environmental issues for 25 years, including co-directing the 2003 Sundance award-winning The Corporation. She’s also back at VIFF this year with The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel, co-directed with Joel Bakan.

John Ware Reclaimed 

(BC Premiere) Cheryl Foggo is on a quest to re-examine the mythology surrounding John Ware, the Black cowboy who settled in Alberta before the turn of the 20th century. In what she finds is revealing: her research uncovers who this iconic figure might have been, and what his legacy means in terms of anti-Black racism, both past and present. Fred Whitfield stars as Ware. This eight-time world champion rodeo star will play this cultural icon through recreations, and interviews with author Lawrence Hill, researcher Bertrand Bickersteth and historian David Breen (among many others) will discuss Ware’s life. 

Inconvenient Indian 

(BC Premiere) In this time of radical change and essential re-examination, Inconvenient Indian brings to life Thomas King’s bestselling book, dismantling North America’s colonial narrative and reframing history. Filmmaker Michelle Latimer examines the material and it’s described to be “a powerful visual poem anchored in the land and amplified by the voices of those who continue the tradition of Indigenous resistance, including artist activists, land protectors, hunters and those leading cultural revitalization.”

Shorts

The Great Malaise by Catherine Lepage

Though this work by Catherine Lepage, a young woman describes herself and her life in glowing terms, but the visual narrative tells a different story: with heart-rending power it illustrates the heavy burden of anxiety carried by this worried overachiever. This film received the People’s Choice Award and Jury’s Special Mention/Canadian Competition at the Sommets du cinéma d’animation in Montreal, and was an official selection in the Generation 14plus section at Berlinale 2020.

The Fake Calendar by Meky Ottawa

We’ve all been there at some point in life. Whether as a teen trying to understand his or her place in that place in high school or adjusting to a new city with people inviting you out for a night on the town, it’s difficult to say no. Here, viewers get a neon glimpse at how people come up with interesting and creative ways to avoid social functions, in favour of their own private space.

The NFB’s Hothouse program (now in its 12th year) for emerging animators has teamed up with imagineNATIVE and associate producers Amanda Strong and Amanda Roy to help address underrepresentation of Indigenous creators in film animation.

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