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As Fort McMurray rebuilds, Julia Ivanova’s NFB feature Limit Is the Sky premieres at the Calgary International Film Festival


September 6, 2016 – Vancouver – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

As Fort McMurray works to recover from a devastating wildfire, acclaimed filmmaker Julia Ivanova’s feature-length film Limit Is the Sky will have its world premiere at the Calgary International Film Festival on Monday, September 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Globe Cinema, followed by a screening on Wednesday, September 28 at 4:30 p.m. at the Eau Claire 3.

Directed, written, shot and edited by Ivanova, this character-driven documentary explores the lives of a diverse group of millennials in search of money, identity and success, whose paths lead them to Fort McMurray, a remote town in the heart of the world’s third-largest oil reserves. Shot over several years, Limit Is the Sky follows these young workers as they do their best to join the ranks of the highly paid oil-field labourers who made “Fort Mac” a boomtown. But what happens when the boomtown goes bust. Can these so-called “gold-collar workers” hang on?

Played out against the stark landscape of the oil sands in northern Alberta, Limit Is the Sky is a timeless story about being young and searching for one’s fortune, out on the frontier. Focusing on six main characters and the wildly varying people they encounter, Ivanova’s film shows us the oil sands as a kind of crucible―exposing strengths and weaknesses, forging future selves―while exploring economic and environmental issues from a human perspective.

“For three years, Julia’s worked tirelessly to document the lives of these young residents—and to get past the easy stereotypes sometimes used to portray life in Fort Mac. This kind of sustained, character-based documentary storytelling is at the heart of the NFB’s mandate,” said Bonnie Thompson, NFB producer of Limit Is the Sky.

Limit Is the Sky is produced by Bonnie Thompson and executive produced by David Christensen for the NFB’s North West Studio in Edmonton.

About Julia Ivanova

Julia Ivanova, a Canadian documentary film director, cinematographer and editor, grew up in Moscow and was trained at the Russian Film Institute (VGIK). After immigrating to Canada in 1995, Julia and her brother Boris self-produced their first documentary, From Russia, for Love (2000), which has been televised in 26 countries. Her body of work includes Fatherhood Dreams (2007), a film about gay fathers and their children; Love Translated (2010), a journey into the world of dating tours to Eastern Europe; Family Portrait in Black and White (2011), a story about black Ukrainian orphans and their foster mother, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the award for Best Canadian Documentary at Hot Docs in 2001; and High Five: A Suburban Adoption Saga, a five-year-long journey into the life of a couple from British Columbia who adopted five Ukrainian siblings.


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  • About the NFB

    The NFB is Canada’s public producer and distributor of award-winning documentaries, auteur animation, interactive stories and participatory experiences, working with talented creators across the country. The NFB is taking action to combat systemic racism and become a more open and diverse organization, while working to strengthen Indigenous-led production and gender equity in film and digital media. NFB productions have won more than 7,000 awards, including 12 Oscars. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.