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Excellence in NFB Vancouver animation celebrated at SPARK ANIMATION. Four National Film Board of Canada shorts—including the world premiere of Julia Kwan’s latest.


October 11, 2018 – Vancouver – National Film Board of Canada

The talents of Vancouver-based animators, directors and performers will be on vivid display in the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) lineup at the 2018 SPARK ANIMATION Festival (October 25 to 28), with four NFB films selected, including Julia Kwan’s The Zoo (NFB/ Fire Horse Productions), making its world premiere.

Helping to kick off festival opening night are Oscar winners Alison Snowden and David Fine’s Animal Behaviour, along with Ann Marie Flemings’ A Short Film About Tegan & Sara.

Hart Snider’s Shop Class, featuring the voice talents of Vancouver’s own Fred Ewanuick, will also make its local premiere.

In addition, the NFB will receive the festival’s Women in Animation Diversity Award on opening night in recognition of its pioneering gender-parity initiative, first announced in 2016 at the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival. David Fine, BC and Yukon Studio executive producer Shirley Vercruysse and associate producer Teri Snelgrove, and Animation Studio executive producer Michael Fukushima will also be presenting at the SPARK ANIMATION Conference.

The Zoo, (11 min 51 s), world premiere
Short Films: Made in Canada, Saturday, October 27 at 3:30 p.m., Vancity Theatre

Inspired by a real bear that once lived in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, The Zoo tells the story of a polar bear and a Chinese boy who visits him until they’re both in their twilight years. Acclaimed filmmaker Julia Kwan adeptly makes a poignant statement about gentrification and abandonment of the elderly, and leaves us with the notion that perhaps home can be found within.

Vancouver audiences who grew up in the city in the ’80s and ’90s will instantly recognize the references to the Stanley Park Zoo and Chinatown. Kwan drew inspiration for The Zoo from Everything Will Be, her acclaimed 2014 NFB documentary about Vancouver’s Chinatown.

The Zoo is produced by Ruth Vincent and Julia Kwan for Fire Horse Productions and for the NFB by producer/executive producer Shirley Vercruysse (BC and Yukon Studio) and executive producer Michael Fukushima (Animation Studio).

Shop Class (9 min), Vancouver premiere
Short Films: After Dark (19+), Friday, October 26 at 11:00 p.m., Vancity Theatre

In this animated short, writer/director Hart Snider takes us back to junior high school in the late ’80s for a dark but funny coming-of-age story set in the era of the Walkman, Pac-Man and Wayne Gretzky. Voiced by Vancouver actor Fred Ewanuick (Corner Gas), Shop Class is an honest look at growing up, exploring themes of high-school alienation, old-fashioned gender roles and becoming comfortable in your own skin—through the eyes of a teenager who is no longer a boy but is not quite sure what it means to be a man.

Shop Class is produced and executive produced by Shirley Vercruysse for the BC and Yukon Studio in Vancouver.

Animal Behaviour (14 min)
Opening night: Award-Winning Short Films: SPARK ANIMATION Celebration!
Thursday, October 25 at 7 p.m., Scotiabank Theatre, Auditorium #1

Dealing with what comes naturally isn’t easy, especially for animals. In Animal Behaviour, five animals—including a leech who suffers from separation anxiety and a bird with guilt issues—meet regularly to discuss their inner angst in a group therapy session led by Dr. Clement, a canine psychotherapist. This hilarious yet emotional short deals with animal issues that are not unlike our own. Should we learn and adapt, or should others just accept our true nature?

Winner of the Grand Prix at Rio de Janeiro’s Anima Mundi festival and the Audience Choice Best Short Film Award at Cinéfest Sudbury, Animal Behaviour marks the return of wife-and-husband team Alison Snowden and David Fine to the NFB after Bob’s Birthday (1993), which inspired the acclaimed Comedy Central/Channel 4/Global TV series Bob and Margaret. The Snowden-Fine duo also received an Oscar nomination for the NFB short George and Rosemary (1987), as did Snowden’s student film Second Class Mail (1984).

Animal Behaviour is produced and executive produced by Michael Fukushima for the NFB’s English-language Animation Studio in Montreal. Alison Snowden, David Fine and Michael Fukushima will also be presenting the 75-minute master class “Animation Therapy with David Fine and Alison Snowden” on October 28 starting at 10:45 a.m. at the ECUAD Reliance Theatre as part of the SPARK ANIMATION Conference.

A Short Film About Tegan & Sara (4 min 30 s), Vancouver premiere
Opening night: Award-Winning Short Films: SPARK ANIMATION Celebration!
Thursday, October 25 at 7 p.m., Scotiabank Theatre, Auditorium #1

In this joyful portrait, created for the 2018 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards, filmmaker Ann Marie Fleming animates the formative days and musical career of Calgary-born identical twins Tegan and Sara Quin. Their remarkable journey over the past 20 years has often intersected with notions of identity—as artists, as individuals, as sisters, as queer women, and as leading activists in the LGBTQ community. Their musical progression parallels and amplifies their commitment to bringing the marginal to the mainstream. A Short Film About Tegan & Sara is produced and executive produced by Shirley Vercruysse for the BC and Yukon Studio in Vancouver.

Fleming’s multi-award-winning animated feature Window Horses (Stickgirl Productions/Sandra Oh/NFB) was named Best B.C. Film and Best Canadian Film at the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival.


Related Products

Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopsis: Animal Behaviour | Shop Class | The Zoo

Associated Links

Fire Horse Productions

Media Relations

  • 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.