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9 powerful NFB productions and a premiere of an interactive experience showcased at 2018 Montreal International Documentary Festival. Montreal International Documentary Festival showcases latest works by Christy Garland, Lisa Jackson, Jean-François Caissy, Nicolas Wadimoff and more—with the opening night film in competition!


October 17, 2018 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

From November 8 to 18, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) will have a strong presence at the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM), one of North America’s leading documentary film festivals, with seven new documentaries, an animated short, and an immersive virtual reality work.

As previously announced, opening the festival will be Christy Garland’s Hot Docs-award-winning What Walaa Wants (Murmur Media/NFB/Final Cut for Real), making its Quebec premiere. The film will be presented along with the world premiere of Jean Jean’s short cinematic ode to Montreal, Printemps Now! (Les Films de l’Autre), created through the 2018 Regard sur Montreal Filmmaker-in-Residency.

The festival will feature new works by filmmakers that RIDM has showcased and supported throughout their careers, such as Jean-François Caissy, Julien Fréchette and Nicolas Wadimoff.

What Walaa Wants is one of two NFB documentaries making their Quebec premieres in the festival’s Canadian Feature Competition; the other is First Stripes (Premières armes), directed by Jean-François Caissy. Both films explore the struggles of young people trying to make the ranks: in What Walaa Wants, a Palestinian woman born in a West Bank refugee camp is determined to become a policewoman in the Palestinian Security Forces; while First Stripes follows 12 weeks of intensive training as young civilians are moulded into Canadian Armed Forces soldiers. RIDM also represents a festival reunion for the two films, which had their world premieres at the 68th Berlinale.

Two timely NFB docs will make their Quebec premiere in RIDM’s The State of the World section: Julien Fréchette’s My War (Ma guerre) follows four Western volunteers who take up the battle against ISIS, while Toronto filmmaker Astra Taylor’s What Is Democracy? provokes a critical dialogue about our collective future.

Christine Chevarie-Lessard’s debut feature A Delicate Balance (Point d’équilibre) (NFB/Productions Avenida) will make its world premiere in the festival’s La bête humaine section, following young boys and girls as their dream of becoming a ballet dancer meets the reality of the École supérieure de ballet du Québec’s training program—in a film that will be in cinemas for the holiday season.

Following its world premiere at Locarno, Nicolas Wadimoff’s feature documentary The Apollo of Gaza (L’Apollon de Gaza) (NFB/Akka Films/RTS) has its Canadian premiere in the ARTifice program, exploring the mystery that plays out after an ancient statue of Apollo is found—and then disappears—in the waters off troubled Gaza.

RIDM’s UXDoc Space is hosting the French-language world premiere and Quebec debut of Biidaaban: First Light, an interactive VR work of Indigenous futurism by award-winning Anishinaabe artist Lisa Jackson, 3D artist Mathew Borrett, digital design and experience agency Jam3 and the NFB’s Digital Studio in Vancouver

Presented in the Family Screenings program is Keyu Chen’s Winds of Spring (Un printemps).


What Walaa Wants (90 min.) – Quebec premiere/Opening Night film/Canadian Feature Competition
Synopsis, biographies, images: https://mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/what-walaa-wants/

  • What Walaa Wants had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival and its Canadian premiere at Hot Docs, where it received the DGC Special Jury Prize for Canadian Feature Documentary.
  • Presented at RIDM in the original Arabic with French subtitles, What Walaa Wants will open in theatres in winter 2019.
  • Christy Garland’s first feature-length documentary, The Bastard Sings the Sweetest Song (2012, Hot Docs, Sheffield), garnered rave reviews during its theatrical release.
  • What Walaa Wants is produced by Matt Code and Christy Garland (Murmur Media; Canada), Anne Köhncke (Final Cut for Real; Denmark) and Justine Pimlott (NFB; Canada). The NFB executive producer is Anita Lee.

Printemps Now! – World premiere/Opening Night short film

  • Inspired by such “city symphony” classics as Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (Walter Ruttman, 1928) and Rain (Joris Ivens, 1929).
  • Trained at Cuba’s Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV (International Film and Television School), Jean Jean is a Haitian-born filmmaker whose credits include three documentaries, notably Si Bondye vle, Yuli (God Willing, Yuli), released in 2015.
  • Created through the 2018 Regard sur Montreal Filmmaker-in-Residency, made possible by the Conseil des arts de Montréal (CAM), Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC), the NFB through its ACIC – Independent Filmmaker Assistance Program, and Les Films de l’Autre.
  • Printemps Now! is independently produced by Jean Jean.

First Stripes (106 min.) – Quebec premiere/Canadian Feature Competition
Synopsis, biographies, images: https://mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/first-stripes/

  • First Stripes had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival and its Canadian premiere at Hot Docs.
  • It’s the third work in a series by Caissy exploring different stages of life, following Journey’s End (2009) and Guidelines (2014).
  • First Stripes is produced by Johanne Bergeron and executive produced by Colette Loumède for the NFB’s French-language Documentary Studio in Montreal.

My War (97 min.) – Quebec premiere/The State of the World
Synopsis, biographies, images: https://mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/my-war/

  • My War had its world premiere at Hot Docs.
  • Montreal filmmaker Julien Fréchette’s previous credits include the 2012 NFB-co-produced Silence Is Gold (Le prix des mots), recipient of a Special Mention for the Magnus Isacsson Award at RIDM 2012.
  • My War is produced and executive produced by Colette Loumède for the NFB’s French-language Documentary Studio in Montreal.

What Is Democracy? (119 min.) – Quebec premiere/The State of the World
Synopsis, biographies, images: https://mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/what-is-democracy/

  • Featuring a diverse cast—including celebrated philosophers, trauma surgeons, factory workers, refugees, and politicians—What Is Democracy? connects past and present, emotion and the intellect, the personal and the political, to provoke and inspire.
  • The film had its world premiere at the Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival and its Canadian premiere at TIFF.
  • Taylor is a filmmaker, writer, and political organizer whose credits include the NFB documentary Examined Life (TIFF 2008) and Zizek! (TIFF 2005). Taylor will have a new book, Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone, out from Metropolitan Books in early 2019.
  • What Is Democracy? is produced by Lea Marin and executive produced by Anita Lee for the NFB’s Ontario Studio in Toronto.

A Delicate Balance (76 min.) – World premiere/La bête humaine
Synopsis, biographies, images: https://mediaspace.nfb.ca/balance

  • Completed after a gestation period of almost seven years, A Delicate Balance is the first feature film by Christine Chevarie-Lessard, a filmmaker who passionately documents childhood and the quest for excellence in the arts and sports.
  • A Delicate Balance is produced by Nathalie Cloutier (NFB) and Chantal Lafleur and Geneviève Thibert (Productions Avenida), and executive produced by Colette Loumède (NFB).

The Apollo of Gaza (78 min.) – Canadian premiere/ARTifice
Synopsis, biographies, images: https://mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/apollogaza/

  • Swiss-born filmmaker Nicolas Wadimoff’s longstanding interest in Palestine can be seen in such early works as Les gants d’or d’Akka (1991) and Aisheen (Still Alive in Gaza), an award winner at Berlin in 2010, as well as in his collaborations with filmmakers in the region, working as an educator, director and producer.
  • The Apollo of Gaza had its world premiere in Semaine de la critique, the Locarno Festival’s prestigious indie section, organized by the Swiss Association of Film Journalists.
  • The film is produced by Colette Loumède (NFB), Philippe Coeytaux (Akka Films), and Irène Challand (RTS).

Biidaaban: First Light (6–8 min) – French-language world premiere and Quebec premiere/UXDoc Space
Synopsis, biographies, images: https://mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/biidaaban/

  • Toronto is flooded. Its infrastructure has merged with the local fauna; mature trees grow through cracks in the sidewalks and vines cover south-facing walls. People commute via canoe and grow vegetables on skyscraper roofs. Urban life is thriving—and so are the languages of the Wendat, Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) and Anishinaabe (Ojibway), this land’s first peoples.
  • RIDM will feature an assisted projection by Lisa Jackson on Sunday, November 11, at 8 p.m. Admission: $12.
  • Biidaaban: First Light had its world premiere at the Tribeca Festival, followed by a Toronto installation at Nathan Phillips Square where it was experienced by 2,200 visitors in less than a week.
  • It’s the first interactive, room-scale VR work by Jackson, whose award-winning fiction and documentary films have screened widely at festivals such as Berlin, Hot Docs, SXSW and London BFI, and earned a Genie Award. Lisa’s upcoming projects include an IMAX film and more traditional film and TV work.
  • Biidaaban: First Light is produced by Dana Dansereau and Rob McLaughlin from the NFB. The executive producer is Rob McLaughlin, head of the Digital Studio in Vancouver.

Winds of Spring (6 min) – Family Screenings
Synopsis, biographies, images: http://mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/winds-of-spring/

  • Unfolding with the rhythm of the seasons, Winds of Spring tells the tender story of a young girl who, driven by the irrepressible need for self-fulfillment, decides to leave the family nest. Composed of fluid transitions and fine, spare lines inspired by Chinese ink painting, the film showcases the already well-developed aesthetic of this emerging filmmaker.
  • The winner of the 21st edition of the NFB’s Cinéaste recherché(e) competition, Keyu Chen studied animation for two years in Beijing, then left her native China and moved to Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 3D production. She now lives in Montreal.
  • Produced by Marc Bertrand and executive produced by Julie Roy for the NFB’s French Program Animation Studio.

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Related Products

Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopsis: A Delicate Balance | Biidaaban First Light | First Stripes | My War | The Apollo of Gaza | What Is Democracy? | What Walaa Wants | Winds of Spring

Associated Links

Montreal International Documentary Festival
Murmur Media
Final Cut for Real
Les Films de l’Autre
2018 Regard sur Montreal Filmmaker-in-Residency
Productions Avenida
Akka Films
Conseil des arts de Montréal
Société de développement des entreprises culturelles
ACIC – Independent Filmmaker Assistance Program

Media Relations

Pat Dillon-Moore
NFB Publicist
C.: 514-206-1750
p.dillon@nfb.ca | @PatDoftheNFB

For A Delicate Balance
Judith Dubeau
IXION Communications, for the NFB
C.: 514 495-8176

For Biidaaban First Light
Marie-Claude Lamoureux
NFB Publicist
C.: 514-297-7192
m.c.lamoureux@nfb.ca | @MC_ONF

Lily Robert
Director, Communications and Public Affairs, NFB
C.: 514-296-8261 | l.robert@nfb.ca

  • About the NFB

    Founded in 1939, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is a one-of-a-kind producer, co-producer and distributor of distinctive, engaging, relevant and innovative documentary and animated films. As a talent incubator, it is one of the world’s leading creative centres. The NFB has enabled Canadians to tell and hear each other’s stories for over eight decades, and its films are a reliable and accessible educational resource. The NFB is also recognized around the world for its expertise in preservation and conservation, and for its rich and vibrant collection of works, which form a pillar of Canada’s cultural heritage. To date, the NFB has produced more than 14,000 works, 6,500 of which can be streamed free of charge at nfb.ca. The NFB and its productions and co-productions have earned over 7,000 awards, including 11 Oscars and an Honorary Academy Award for overall excellence in cinema.