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Edmonton International Film Festival gets animated with three NFB shorts. Catherine Lepage’s The Great Malaise, Jean-François Lévesque’s I, Barnabé and Robin McKenna’s Thanadoula showcased at EIFF.


August 18, 2020 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

Three National Film Board of Canada produced and co-produced short films are being featured at the Edmonton International Film Festival (EIFF), taking place October 1 through 10.

NFB works at EIFF include two firsts by acclaimed Canadians:

  • Illustrator and author Catherine Lepage’s first film, The Great Malaise;
  • Award-winning filmmaker Robin McKenna’s first animated documentary, Thanadoula (Gaudete Films/NFB), featuring the exquisite art direction of Elise Simard.

The festival is also showcasing I, Barnabé, produced by the NFB with the participation of ARTE France. It’s the second NFB animated short from Jean-François Lévesque, the multi-award-winning creator of The Necktie.

The Great Malaise (5 min 19 s)

Synopsis, biographies, images: mediaspace.nfb.ca/malaise

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.

  • The Great Malaise 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 the Berlinale.
  • Catherine Lepage is an illustrator and author whose works (including 12 mois sans intérêtThin Slices of Anxiety and Zoothérapie) have been translated and published around the world.

Thanadoula (6 min 38 s; Gaudete Films/NFB)

Synopsis, biographies, images: mediaspace.nfb.ca/thanadoula

“I could have been there with her…” Two sisters entwined by love. When Annie disappears, her younger sister, Natalie, seeks her out in an unconventional way: as a thanadoula, accompanying the dying in their final stages. Between their slow and final breaths, Natalie finds a bridge between life and death and, ultimately, a pathway to her sister.

  • Thanadoula will be in Official Competition at the 2020 Ottawa International Animation Festival.
  • Robin McKenna is an award-winning director, producer and writer of creative, personal documentaries whose feature documentary GIFT opened in theatres across the US and Canada in 2019 and was nominated for the DGC’s Allan King Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking. Her doc The Great War Experience won the Yorkton Film Festival’s Founder’s Award in 2007.
  • Robin directed the 2018 short Geneviève Bujold: Art = Life, about legendary actress Geneviève Bujold, produced by the NFB for the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards.
  • Elise Simard is the co-founder of the Astroplastique animation collective and her previous animation credits include her 2012 NFB short, My Little Underground, and the independently produced 2017 short Beautiful Like Elsewhere.

I, Barnabé (15 min)

Synopsis, biographies, images:  mediaspace.nfb.ca/i-barnabe

Created using stop-motion animation, puppets, and traditional 2D animation, I, Barnabé takes a luminous look at a desperate man’s existential crisis. During a night of stormy drunkenness, he receives a visit from a mysterious bird and is forced to reconsider his life.

  • I, Barnabé has already been selected by many of the world’s top animation fests, including Annecy, Seoul and Ottawa.
  • Jean-François Lévesque began his work at the NFB back in 2004, when he won the French Animation Studio’s 17th Cinéaste recherché(e) Competition. His creative residency allowed him to complete The Necktie (2008), which would go on to win 15 awards, including the Jutra Award for best animated film and the Fabrizio Bellocchio de I Castelli Animati Prize in Italy.
  • In I, Barnabé, Jean-François continues the exploration of hybrid animation techniques he began with The Necktie.

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Related Products

Electronic Press Kits | Images, trailer, synopses: I, Barnabé | Thanadoula | The Great Malaise

Associated Links

Edmonton International Film Festival
Gaudete Films
ARTE France

French version here | Version française ici.

Media Relations

  • About the NFB

    The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is a leader in exploring animation as an artform, a storytelling medium and innovative content for emerging platforms. It produces trailblazing animated works both in its Montreal studios and across  the country, and it works with many of the world’s leading creators on international co-productions. NFB productions have won more than 7,000 awards, including seven Oscars for NFB animation and seven grand prizes at the Annecy festival. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.