April 28, 2016 – Vancouver – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
Making Movie History: A Portrait in 61 Parts, a new National Film Board of Canada (NFB) iPad app exploring the NFB’s unique place in Canadian cinema, and three new NFB short docs by women directors are all being featured at the DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Vancouver’s prestigious showcase for the best in non-fiction storytelling, from May 5 to 15.
Available beginning May 5 on the iTunes Canada App Store, Making Movie History features 61 short profiles of some of the NFB’s greatest artists, rebels and dreamers, with films directed by Denys Desjardins and Joanne Robertson, based on an original idea by Denys Desjardins. The app was created by Steve Mackey based on a concept by Marc St-Pierre and Michelle van Beusekom.
Originally created as a web-based celebration of the NFB’s 75th anniversary, Making Movie History is organized into 13 thematic categories, each a mix of interview and excerpts from classic NFB works. The profiles in Making Movie History explore a rich array of topics, spanning John Grierson and the war years, the early days of animation, the founding of the NFB’s French Unit, the birth of Direct Cinema, Canadian fiction filmmaking, Indigenous cinema, pioneering NFB women in film―and much more.
The Making Movie History app will be introduced at DOXA at a special presentation on May 7, starting at 4 p.m., with app highlights followed by a discussion with Michelle van Beusekom, project producer and the Executive Director of NFB English Program, and three legendary B.C.-based filmmakers featured in Making Movie History: Anne Wheeler, Mort Ransen and Bonnie Sherr Klein. The event will be moderated by Marsha Lederman, Western Arts Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, with an iPad installation for Making Movie History also available to festivalgoers in the Vancity Theatre. Also on May 7, van Beusekom will be taking part in the industry panel “Distribution and Beyond” at SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, starting at 9:30 a.m.
On May 8, Heidi Janz will be in attendance at the Vancouver premiere of the short documentary We Regret to Inform You…, co-written and co-directed by Janz and Eva Colmers, starting at 3 p.m. at the Vancity Theatre. Presented prior to the feature Undersong in the festival’s Justice Forum section, this 11-minute film offers an unsentimental and unapologetic look at what it means to be both “disabled” and “productive” as it follows Dr. Janz―award-winning playwright, accomplished academic and self-described “crip”―through her everyday life. We Regret to Inform You… is produced by Bonnie Thompson.
DOXA will feature the B.C. premieres of two award-winning Indigenous short documentaries, with Bonnie Ammaaq’s Nowhere Land and Thérèse Ottawa’s Red Path (Le chemin rouge) screening as part of This Land is Your Land: Shorts Program at the Vancity Theatre on May 11, starting at 12:30 p.m.
When Bonnie Ammaaq was a little girl, her parents packed their family onto a long, fur-lined sled called a qamutik and left the government-manufactured community of Igloolik to live off the land, as had generations of Inuit before them. For 11 years their home was not just the small shack called “Outpost Camp,” but the whole territory, vast, wild and beautiful, which lay outside its door. The 15-minute Nowhere Land is a quiet elegy for a way of life that exists now only in the memories of those who experienced it. Written by Bonnie Ammaaq and Alicia Smith and produced by Alicia Smith, Nowhere Land was named Best Short Documentary at the 2015 imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival.
The debut short documentary by Ottawa, an Atikamekw filmmaker, Red Path offers a moving look at the journey of Tony Chachai, a young man whose road to redemption leads to a return to his roots and the passing on of his community’s cultural practices. Produced by Johanne Bergeron, this 15-minute film was developed through the NFB’s Tremplin NIKANIK competition for francophone First Nations filmmakers in Quebec, in partnership with APTN. Red Path received two special mentions at the First Peoples Festival in Montreal, for the Télé-Québec Best Choice Award and Best Short Film.
Nowhere Land and We Regret to Inform You… have also been nominated by the Alliance of Women Film Journalists for its EDA Awards, presented to best female-directed films at select film festivals around the world―including DOXA, for the first time, in 2016.
Short filmmaker biographies:
Denys Desjardins (Making Movie History)
Producer, filmmaker, screenwriter and film historian Denys Desjardins has directed several films in the private sector as well as at the NFB, where he was an Internet pioneer. He studied literature and his cinematic work is marked by the ideas of essayist filmmakers who are equally productive in writing and filmmaking (Vertov, Marker, Perrault). He has served on a number of boards of directors and is a founding member of the organization Québec Cinéma. Desjardins is the designer and producer of Cinéma du Québec.com.
Joanne Robertson (Making Movie History)
Originally from Vancouver, Joanne Robertson is a Montreal-based director/producer/researcher whose recent credits include the international documentary series The Island Diaries and Waterfront Cities. In 2010, Joanne completed À Table, a one-hour doc on Quebec food culture for CBC Montreal. Her CBC credits also include working as director/producer on Kids’ CBC programming, including Kids + Grandparents (2012), Kids Across Canada (2007–2009) and educational interstitials for the flagship national pre-school block (2002–2006). Her NFB credits include serving as producer on the 2005 NFB/Rezolution Pictures documentary Mohawk Girls.
Bonnie Ammaaq (Nowhere Land)
Bonnie Ammaaq lives in Igloolik, Nunavut, with her partner and children. She works for the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation and has made two films with the National Film Board of Canada: Family Making Sleds (2012) and Nowhere Land (2015).
Thérèse Ottawa (Red Path)
Originally from Manawan, Quebec, Thérèse Ottawa has been involved in numerous groups and organizations in her community, with the goal of promoting Atikamekw culture. After working in education, she participated in a training program at the NFB and, in 2012, co-founded Tewekan Vision, a production centre created to strengthen the Indigenous presence in the film industry.
Eva Colmers (We Regret to Inform You…)
Eva Colmers is an independent filmmaker who has written, directed and produced a dozen award-winning short films in the dramatic, documentary and experimental genres. Her credits include: 2.57k, Granny Baby, The Weightless Traveller and End of the Rope. For the NFB, she has written and directed two long-format documentaries, The Elder Project (2010) and The Enemy Within (2003).
Heidi Janz (We Regret to Inform You…)
Dr. Heidi Janz is a writer/playwright based in Edmonton, Alberta. Her most-recently produced plays include: Voices at Dying, Dying to be Heard, produced in 2006 for the 16th International Congress on the Care of the Terminally Ill; and The Book of Jobes, first produced by Kompany Family Theatre and Lone Sparrow Productions for the 2011 Edmonton Fringe Theatre Festival. Janz is an adjunct professor with the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre and the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta, specializing in the field of Disability Ethics. She was named Global TV’s Woman of Vision in May 2013.
“We’re proud to be launching these new films and the Making Movie History app at DOXA. Making Movie History is an immersive experience that allows users to navigate through carefully curated chapters and themes for a personalized look at the NFB’s foundational role in Canada cinema, from the days of John Grierson through to the creation of Direct Cinema and the birth of Studio D, the world’s first women’s production studio. The artists and dreamers featured in Making Movie History established the NFB’s commitment to creative excellence, innovation and social relevance―which is reflected in the work of directors from the new generation of NFB filmmakers, like Bonnie, Thérèse, Eva and Heidi.”
– Michelle van Beusekom
DOXA Documentary Film Festival
Distribution and Beyond
SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
Justice Forum section
This Land is Your Land: Shorts Program
Cinéma du Québec.com
Online Screening Room: NFB.ca