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Five premieres among 21 NFB documentaries showcased at Hot Docs 2018. Powerful new features, immersive and interactive docs, a special anniversary for a First Nations doc classic, plus a retrospective.


March 20, 2018 – Toronto – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

This year’s lineup of National Film Board of Canada (NFB) documentaries at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival (April 26–May 6, 2018) showcases diverse stories of people facing life’s biggest challenges—with premieres of five major new feature documentaries in the festival’s Canadian Spectrum program.

Joining these new NFB feature docs are two interactive and immersive NFB works, a 25th-anniversary presentation of a landmark work by Alanis Obomsawin, a John Walker retrospective, plus Redux screenings of NFB classic docs—21 great works of NFB non-fiction storytelling, in all.

World premiere

My War

What would make men and women trade a comfortable life for combat in a far-off war? Julien Fréchette’s My War traces the journeys of four Western volunteers who’ve decided to battle ISIS, and asks: Who are these fighters, risking their lives to fight the so-called Islamic State? Are they selfless heroes or adrenaline junkies? Is it a quest for recognition or identity? What causes individuals of varied ages and backgrounds to make a life-changing choice like this? Montreal filmmaker Julien Fréchette’s previous credits include the 2012 NFB-co-produced feature documentary Silence Is GoldMy War is produced and executive produced by Colette Loumède for the NFB’s French-language Documentary Studio in Montreal.

Sunday, April 29           6:00 p.m.          TIFF Bell Lightbox 3
Tuesday, May 1            12:30 p.m.        TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Thursday, May 3           3:30 p.m.          Scotiabank Theatre, Cinema 3

Canadian premieres

First Stripes

Jean-François Caissy’s First Stripes follows a disparate group of young men and women as they undergo 12 weeks of intensive training with the Canadian Armed Forces, learning to adapt to a new life with mixed feelings of apprehension and enthusiasm, in a world where discipline reigns supreme and country comes before self. Produced by Johanne Bergeron for the NFB’s French-language Documentary Studio in Montreal, First Stripes had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival and is the third work in a series by Caissy exploring different stages of life, following Journey’s End (2009) and Guidelines (2014). The executive producer is Colette Loumède.

Saturday, April 28         8:15 p.m.          Innis Town Hall
Monday, April 30          12:00 p.m.        Scotiabank Theatre, Cinema 4
Saturday, May 5           12:00 p.m.        Scotiabank Theatre, Cinema 7

Love, Scott

While walking down the street one night in a small Canadian town, Scott Jones—a gay musician—is attacked by a stranger he encountered earlier that evening and becomes paralyzed from the waist down. What follows is a brave and fragile journey of healing and the transformation of this young man’s life, in Love, Scott, directed by his close friend, Laura Marie Wayne, making her feature documentary debut. Filmed over three years, the film follows Scott from the first raw moments in the hospital to a trip back to the place he was attacked, as he’s faced with the choice of losing himself in grief or embracing love over fear. Set against a stunning score by Sigur Rós, Love, Scott is produced and executive produced by Annette Clarke for the NFB’s Quebec and Atlantic Studio.

Saturday, April 28         6:30 p.m.          TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
Sunday, April 29           10:15 a.m.        Isabel Bader Theatre
Thursday, May 3           9:15 p.m.          TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

What Walaa Wants

What Walaa Wants (Murmur Media/NFB/Final Cut for Real) is directed by Toronto’s Christy Garland, making her third appearance at Hot Docs after Cheer Up and The Bastard Sings the Sweetest Song. This international co-production follows a young woman named Walaa, raised in a refugee camp while her mother was in an Israeli prison, who’s determined to become one of the few women in the Palestinian Security Forces—not easy for a girl who breaks all the rules. What Walaa Wants had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival. The film 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. Matt Code produced Mary Goes Round and executive-produced Cardinals, both in 2017. Anne Köhncke’s previous credits include producer on The Act of Killing (2012) and Pervert Park (2014) and associate producer on The Look of Silence (2014).

Tuesday, May 1            6:00 p.m.          TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Thursday, May 3           6:15 p.m.          TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Friday, May 4               3:00 p.m.          Hart House Theatre

Ontario premiere


In 1999 (Parabola Films/Beauvoir Films/NFB), Samara Grace Chadwick returns to the city she fled as a teen, when a wave of suicides at École Mathieu-Martin in Moncton, dubbed “Suicide High,” took the lives of multiple classmates. In her feature documentary debut, Chadwick revisits those traumatic events, joining with peers to bear witness to a time when every instant of their adolescent lives felt overwhelming and when their entire community teetered on the brink—as together they find strength in sharing long-silenced memories.

1999 is produced by Parabola Films (Selin Murat and Sarah Spring) in co-production with Beauvoir Films (Aline Schmid) and the NFB (Kat Baulu from the Quebec and Atlantic Studio and Jac Gautreau from the Canadian Francophonie Studio – Acadie), in collaboration with Radio-Canada Acadie (Marie-Claude Dupont), CALQ, and SODEC, and supported internationally by Eurimages through Telefilm Canada. The NFB executive producers are Annette Clarke and Dominic Desjardins. The film features an original score by Swiss musician Cyril Hahn as well as chiac interpretations of 90s classics by Acadian musicians Gabriel Malenfant of the group Radio Radio and Vivianne Roy of Hay Babies. 1999 will have its international premiere in April at the Visions du Réel International Film Festival in Switzerland.

Saturday, April 28         3:15 p.m.          TIFF Bell Lightbox 3
Sunday, April 29           8:30 p.m.          Scotiabank Theatre, Cinema 3
Friday, May 4               4:00 p.m.          TIFF Bell Lightbox 3


Situated in Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District, one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs, this interdisciplinary section celebrating documentary work outside of the traditional format features two new NFB interactive installations.

The hidden side of gambling is the focus of the interactive documentary Thank You for Playing, by Andréa Cohen-Boulakia (director), Priam Givord (design and interactivity) and Reflektor Digital (design and coding).  Users beckoned by video slot machines instead explore the lure of compulsive gambling through a playful format that recreates the very same psychological mechanisms underlying the addiction, introducing viewers to a range of perspectives on the subject. Thank You for Playing is produced by Dominic Desjardins for the NFB’s Canadian Francophonie Studio in Toronto.

Visitors take a seat in their own wheelchair to experience André Roy’s 360-degree short doc The 3rd Wheel, in which a New Brunswick gym teacher aspires to make sports accessible to two sisters who have muscular dystrophy. In a surprising twist, students without disabilities soon ask for wheelchairs to play basketball with them. What emerges is a movement of reverse inclusion that expands to an entire community, where the majority adapts to the minority, in a film produced by Jac Gautreau and Dominic Desjardins for the NFB’s Canadian Francophonie Studio – Acadie in Moncton, with Dominic Desjardins as executive producer.

25th-anniversary screening of Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance

Hot Docs presents a special screening of this landmark work of cinema with distinguished filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin in attendance to take questions. Released in 1993, Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance goes behind the barbed wire to chronicle the historic stand-off between the Mohawks, the Quebec police and the Canadian army during the 1990 Oka Crisis. As Ms. Obomsawin enters the 51st year of a distinguished filmmaking career, it’s a rare opportunity to see this acclaimed work of Indigenous cinema on the big screen and hear from a legendary artist and activist.

Saturday, May 5           3:45 p.m.          TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Focus On John Walker

Four acclaimed NFB co-productions with John Walker are prominently featured in a well-deserved retrospective on this veteran documentary director and producer.

A Drummer’s Dream (2010)
Wednesday, May 2       3:30 p.m.          Scotiabank Theatre, Cinema 4

Passage (2008)
Thursday, May 3           12:15 p.m.        TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

The Fairy Faith (2000)
Saturday, May 5           1:15 p.m.          TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Men of the Deeps (2003)
Saturday, May 5           3:00 p.m.          TIFF Bell Lightbox 4


Redux is a Hot Docs program for older films that festival programmers feel deserve another showing on the big screen. This year’s lineup includes nine NFB titles:

Black Mother Black Daughter (1989), dir. Sylvia Hamilton, Claire Prieto
The Children of Fogo Island (1967), dir. Colin Low
Vive La Rose (Global Mechanic/NFB; 2009), dir. Bruce Alcock
Friday, April 27             12:15 p.m.        TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

Hardwood (Hardwood Pictures/NFB; 2004), dir. Hubert Davis
Saturday, April 28         12:30 p.m.        TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

First Stories: Two Spirited (2007), dir. Sharon A. Desjarlais
Like the Trees (1974), dir. Kathleen Shannon
Two Worlds Colliding (2004), dir. Tasha Hubbard
Sunday, April 29           11:45 a.m.        TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

Uninterrupted (2012), dir. Nettie Wild
Friday, May 4               10 a.m.            TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Manufactured Landscapes (NFB/Mercury Films/Foundry Films; 2006), dir. Jennifer Baichwal
Sunday, May 6             3:30 p.m.          TIFF Bell Lightbox 2



Related Products

Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopsis: 1999 | First Stripes | Love, Scott | My War | Thank You for Playing | The 3rd Wheel | What Walaa Wants

Associated Links

Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival
Murmur Media
Final Cut for Real
Parabola Films
Beauvoir Films
Reflektor Digital

Media Relations

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    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.