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Marking World Architecture Day. Katerine Giguère’s Open Sky: Portrait of a Pavilion in Venice will be launched online free of charge at NFB.ca on October 5. An NFB production, in partnership with the National Gallery of Canada and the National Gallery of Canada Foundation.


September 23, 2020 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada

Following its March world premiere online at the International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA), the documentary short Open Sky: Portrait of a Pavilion in Venice, directed by Katerine Giguère, will be available for viewing free online at NFB.ca starting on October 5, to mark World Architecture Day. The film invites you to the famous Venice Biennale to discover the Canadian Pavilion, designed by Milan’s renowned Studio BBPR, and restored, together with its surrounding gardens, by the National Gallery of Canada on the occasion of the building’s 60th anniversary in 2018. This elegantly crafted short film, like the pavilion it celebrates, is intimate and made on a human scale. The building, too little known to the Canadian public, is an architectural jewel and an exceptional world showcase for the country and contemporary Canadian artists. This film provides a unique opportunity for viewers to discover its beauty and its history.

The film

The filmmaker Katerine Giguère was both director and cinematographer of the project, and with her warm, sensuous approach, she creates an inviting portrait of the building, one of 29 pavilions in the Venice Biennale Gardens. She skillfully intermingles more than 120 archival images, a dozen interviews with experts in various fields, and recent documentary footage revealing the innovative design of the building, its grace and elegance, and its profound relationship with the natural surroundings. The film is an hommage to a special architectural achievement, bathed in light and open to the sky.

Experts discuss the pavilion

The experts interviewed for the film in Canada and Italy offer accounts of their personal connections with the pavilion and its gardens. Among them are Réjean Legault, professor at the École de design at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM); Karen Colby-Stothart, chief executive officer of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation (2013–2019); Josée Drouin-Brisebois, senior curator of contemporary art at the National Gallery of Canada; Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, landscape architect; Paolo Baratta, president of the Venice Biennale (2008–2020); and Alberico Belgiojoso, architect and heir to the Studio BBPR.

More events for World Architecture Day

Open Sky: Portrait of a Pavilion in Venice will be screened online by more than 20 Canadian missions abroad in honour of World Architecture Day and also UN World Habitat Day.

A special selection on architecture will also be launched on NFB.ca on October 5.

The back story: From inauguration to restoration

City Out of Time, by Colin Low, was produced by the National Film Board at the time of the Canada Pavilion’s inauguration at the 1958 Venice Biennale. Now, to mark the restoration of the building on its 60th anniversary, the NFB has once again collaborated with the National Gallery to make Open Sky: Portrait of a Pavilion in Venice; the director has included evocative images from Colin Low’s work. The documentary is an appreciation of one of the rare public spaces celebrating Canadian culture abroad.

About the filmmaker

Katerine Giguère has been putting her many talents—as a director, producer, cinematographer and photographer—to good use for more than 20 years. Open Sky: Portrait of a Pavilion in Venice marks her third outing as a director. Seeds of Hope, her debut, won the Audience Award and Best Newcomer Award at the 2006 Portneuf Environmental Film Festival. Besides contributing to the creative development of Les Productions du Rapide-Blanc, she’s been a cinematographer on more than 100 projects that have taken her all over the planet, including acclaimed productions such as Anticosti: The Hunt for Extreme Oil, Earth Keepers and, more recently, Humain+My Mother’s Letters and My Daughter Is Not for Sale. This multifaceted artist, daughter of two major figures in Quebec documentary cinema, Sylvie Van Brabant and Serge Giguère, has expressed herself in a variety of forms, but it was through her work in documentary that she discovered her passion for direct cinema.

Open Sky: Portrait of a Pavilion in Venice by Katerine Giguère (25 minutes) is produced by André Picard for the NFB in partnership with the National Gallery of Canada and the National Gallery of Canada Foundation. With editing by Annie Leclair and music by Pierre-Philippe Côté and Steven Doman.

Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/open-sky

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Associated Links

Venice Biennale
National Gallery of Canada

French version here | Version en français ici.

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  • 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.