January 29, 2018 – Toronto – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
Canadian excellence in animation and documentary awaits audiences at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival (February 15 to 25, 2018), with four new works from the National Film Board of Canada.
Two new NFB feature-length documentaries are having their world premieres at the Berlinale: Jean-François Caissy’s First Stripes and Canada-Denmark co-production What Walaa Wants (Murmur Media/NFB/Final Cut for Real), directed by Christy Garland. Berlin festival-goers will also be treated to European premieres of two acclaimed NFB animated shorts: Asinnajaq’s Three Thousand and Oscar winner Torill Kove’s latest, Threads.
First Stripes is Caissy’s third film at the Berlinale, following his documentaries Journey’s End (2009) and the NFB feature documentary Guidelines (2014). Garland is the acclaimed director of such independently produced documentaries as The Bastard Sings the Sweetest Song (2012) and Cheer Up (2016).
Forum Section – World premiere
First Stripes (Premières armes), 106 min
As they undergo 12 weeks of intensive training, young civilians are gradually moulded into Canadian Armed Forces soldiers. This disparate cohort of men and women with little experience in the ways of military life must adapt to a world governed by its own rules and values. In an austere environment where discipline reigns supreme, the recruits submit to learning the ropes with mixed feelings of apprehension and enthusiasm. They understand that, from now on, the group takes precedence over the individual, and country comes before self. For this third opus in a series that candidly explores the different stages of life, Jean-François Caissy provides a fascinating glimpse into this career choice and the beginning of adulthood. First Stripes is produced for the NFB by Johanne Bergeron, with Colette Loumède as executive producer.
Generation 14plus – World premiere
What Walaa Wants, 90 min
A teenager in the West Bank, Walaa dreams of being a policewoman with the Palestinian Security Forces, earning a salary, avoiding marriage and building a career. But her own rebellious behaviour and a complicated relationship with her mother stands in her way. In What Walaa Wants, director Christy Garland follows Walaa through basic training in the scorching heat, the obstacles (mostly self-generated) and the encounters with people and challenges that will begin to change her life. The officers at the academy immediately recognize two things: Walaa is one of their best students, male or female, and could go far up the ranks. But her bad behaviour and insubordination could send her packing. Now Walaa has a choice—fall in line, or end up back home. What Walaa Wants is an international co-production produced by Anne Köhncke (Final Cut for Real, Denmark), Matt Code and Christy Garland (Murmur Media, Canada), and Justine Pimlott (NFB, Canada). The NFB executive producer is Anita Lee.
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). Matt Code produced Mary Goes Round and executive-produced Cardinals, both in 2017.
NATIVe – A Journey into Indigenous Cinema – European premiere
Three Thousand, 12 min
In Three Thousand, Inuk artist Asinnajaq, also known as Isabella-Rose Weetaluktuk, plunges us into a sublime imaginary universe: 12 minutes of luminescent, archive-inspired cinema that recast the past, present and future of Inuit in a radiant new light. Embedding historic footage into original animation, she dives into the NFB’s vast archive to parse the complicated cinematic representation of Inuit, conjuring up a vision of hope and beautiful possibility. Winner of the Kent Monkman Award for Best Experimental Work at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, Three Thousand is produced by Kat Baulu for the Quebec and Atlantic Studio, with Annette Clarke as executive producer. Veteran Inuk director Zacharias Kunuk (Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner), winner of the Toronto Film Critics Association’s 2017 Technicolor Clyde Gilmour Award, recently chose talented emerging filmmaker Asinnajaq as his designate to receive $50,000 in post-production goods and services.
Generation Kplus – European premiere
Threads, 8 min
Torill Kove’s latest Mikrofilm AS/NFB co-production Threads explores the beauty and complexity of parental love and the bonds that we form. A film without words, Threads speaks volumes about the attachments we crave and sometimes grieve as we evolve in ways that can leave us feeling lonely or left behind—in a work that features Kove’s signature style of minimalistic characters and simple line drawings. Named one of Canada’s top ten films of the year by TIFF, Threads is the fourth NFB-co-produced animated short for Kove, winner of the Academy Award for The Danish Poet (2006) and an Oscar nominee for My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirts (1999) and Me and My Moulton (2014). Threads is produced by Lise Fearnley and Tonje Skar Reiersen for Mikrofilm AS and Michael Fukushima for the NFB’s English Animation Studio.
Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopsis: First Stripes | Three Thousand | Threads
Berlin International Film Festival
Final Cut for Real