October 18, 2017 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
Fifteen National Film Board of Canada works will be shown at the 20th-anniversary edition of the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) (November 9-19), including three new NFB feature docs making their Quebec premiere after acclaimed film festival tours: Alanis Obomsawin’s Our People Will Be Healed, Charles Officer’s Unarmed Verses, and Tasha Hubbard’s Birth of a Family.
As previously announced, Céline Baril’s 24 Davids has been chosen by RIDM as its Opening Night film. The festival’s Canadian Feature Competition will play host to Mathieu Roy’s co-production The Dispossessed (Lowik Media Productions/Mira Films/NFB/SRF Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen/SRG SSR), while the National Short and Medium-length Competition features Asinnajaq’s Three Thousand.
“The NFB is honoured to again be a part of RIDM, as the festival marks its 20th year,” said Claude Joli-Coeur, NFB Chairperson. “The festival has been a trailblazer in ensuring that great non-fiction storytelling has a place on the big screen, establishing itself as an essential destination for documentary filmmakers and film lovers, here in the heart of Montreal.”
As part of its 20th-anniversary events, RIDM will be screening three classic Quebec-produced NFB feature docs. The festival will be offering screenings of timeless NFB animation for families as well, and festival goers can also try out The Enemy, a new NFB augmented-reality app by photojournalist Karim Ben Khelifa.
What’s more, the NFB will once again take part in Doc Circuit Montréal, the festival’s market for documentary filmmakers.
Three Quebec premieres of NFB feature documentaries
The 50th film from Alanis Obomsawin in the 50th year of a legendary filmmaking career, Our People Will Be Healed takes audiences inside the Helen Betty Osborne Ininiw Education Resource Centre, an innovative N-12 school in the remote Cree community of Norway House, 800 kilometres north of Winnipeg, whose educators and programs are helping First Nations children to learn, thrive, and grow up strong and proud.
Our People Will Be Healed is the latest in a cycle of films by Obomsawin that explore First Nations rights in Canada. The series began with her 2012 Donald Brittain Award-winning The People of the Kattawapiskak River and continued with Hi-Ho Mistahey! (2013), Trick or Treaty? (2014) and We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice (2016). It will also continue with Obomsawin’s 51st film, Jordan’s Principle (working title), now underway.
Named Best Canadian Feature Documentary at Hot Docs and Best Canadian Documentary at the Vancouver International Film Festival, Charles Officer’s Unarmed Verses offers a thoughtful and vivid portrait of marginalized residents in Toronto’s north-east end facing imposed relocation. At the centre of the film is the remarkably astute and luminous Francine Valentine, whose poignant observations about life, the soul, and the power of art give voice to those rarely heard in society. Unarmed Verses is produced by Lea Marin and executive produced by Anita Lee for the NFB’s Ontario Studio.
Directed by Tasha Hubbard and written by Hubbard and Betty Ann Adam, Birth of a Family follows three sisters and a brother, adopted as infants into separate families across North America, as they meet together for the first time. Separated as part of Canada’s Sixties Scoop, in which 20,000 Indigenous children were removed from their families and placed into foster care or adopted into white homes, the four are now all in middle age, with no shared memories. Together, they piece together their history, deepen their connections and take the first steps in building their family. Birth of a Family is produced by Bonnie Thompson and executive produced by David Christensen for the NFB’s North West Studio in Edmonton.
Opening Night film
24 Davids by Céline Baril, produced at the NFB by Colette Loumède for the NFB French Program’s filmmaker-in-residence initiative, takes us across three continents on a quest driven by a simple yet original idea: to shine a spotlight on the inimitable Davids of this world. The documentary will start its theatrical run at the Cinémathèque québécoise on February 2, 2018.
Canadian Feature Competition
Mathieu Roy’s The Dispossessed is an impressionistic journey that sheds light on the daily strife of the world’s hungry farming class. In this era of industrialized agriculture, across the globe, people who produce food are paid less than almost any other profession. Equal parts cinéma vérité and film essay, this doc examines the mechanisms by which farmers are falling into a sombre cycle of despair, debt and dispossession. The Dispossessed is produced by Lucie Tremblay (Lowik Media Productions), Colette Loumède (NFB) and Gabriela Bussman and Vadim Jendreyko (Mira Film).
National Short and Medium-Length Competition
In Three Thousand, Inuit 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. Three Thousand is produced by Kat Baulu for the Quebec and Atlantic Studio.
On the 20th anniversary of RIDM, the festival is also programming three classic, award-winning NFB feature docs from Quebec: Isabelle Lavigne and Stéphane Thibault’s Junior (2007), Hugo Latulippe’s Bacon, the Film (2002) and Tracey Deer’s Mohawk Girls (2005; NFB/Rezolution Pictures).
Acclaimed classic NFB animation for families
Michèle Lemieux’s multi-award-winning Stormy Night (2003) and Munro Ferguson’s How Dinosaurs Learned to Fly (1995) will be presented, along with three titles from the NFB’s Talespinners collection: Jonathan Ng’s Asthma Tech, Lillian Chan’s Jaime Lo, Small and Shy and Shira Avni and Serene El-haj Daoud’s From Far Away.
Augmented reality app demonstration
Developed by Montreal-based digital creation studio Dpt. and the NFB, The Enemy, by internationally renowned photojournalist Karim Ben Khelifa, will be available to try out as an augmented-reality app during the festival. The Enemy is produced by Camera Lucida Productions (Chloé Jarry, producer), France Télévisions (Antonin Lhôte, project manager), the NFB (Louis-Richard Tremblay, producer), Emissive (Fabien Barati, executive producer), and Dpt. (Nicolas S. Roy, executive producer and creative director).
Doc Circuit Montréal
This major market for documentary filmmakers includes an award of $5,000 in technical services through the NFB’s ACIC program, providing Canadian filmmakers with collective support for documentary projects.
NFB French program head Michèle Bélanger will also be taking part in an industry panel entitled Systèmes de financement et de distribution alternatifs.
Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopsis: 24 Davids | Birth of a Family | Our People Will Be Healed | The Enemy | Three Thousand | Unarmed Verses
App Store – The Enemy
Google Play – The Enemy
Montreal International Documentary Festival
Camera Lucida Productions
Lowik Media Productions
SRF Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen