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Three NFB shorts at CIFF 2023. Alberta filmmaker Leanne Allison’s Losing Blue looks at how global warming is forever changing ancient mountain lakes.


August 30, 2023 – Vancouver – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

What does it mean to lose a colour?

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) selection at this year’s Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) will feature the world premiere of acclaimed Alberta filmmaker Leanne Allison’s Losing Blue, a cinematic poem about what it means to lose the otherworldly blues of ancient mountain lakes, now fading due to climate change.

CIFF will also present local premieres of two dazzling NFB animated shorts: Janet Perlman’s The Girl with the Red Beret and Thao Lam and Kjell Boersma’s Boat People.

World premiere

Losing Blue by Leanne Allison (16 min)
Produced by David Christensen for the NFB’s North West Studio
Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/losing-blue

  • Glacier-fed alpine lakes each have a unique blue formed by the mountains and ice that shaped them. These intense colours hold the memory of “deep time,” geological processes millions of years old. Now climate change is rapidly accelerating environmental shifts and causing some of these spectacular blues to vanish.
  • Losing Blueis an expansive metaphor for the massive and subtle impacts of climate change. With stunning cinematography, the film immerses viewers in the magnificence of lakes so rare that most have never seen them, pulling us in so that we experience these bodies of water as if we were standing alone on their rocky shores—witnesses to their power and acutely aware of what their loss would mean, both for ourselves and for the Earth.
  • Filmmaker Leanne Allison’s narration intimately balances J.B. MacKinnon’s eloquent science writing. This short documentary gently asks what it might mean to forget that the ethereal blues of these lakes ever existed.
  • The idea for the film came from limnologists Janet Fischer and Mark Olson, who have studied lakes in Canada’s Rocky Mountains for nearly two decades.
  • 70 percent of Western Canada’s 17,000 glaciers are predicted to disappear by 2100.
  • Born and raised in Calgary and now based in Canmore, Leanne Allison is known for her award-winning feature-length NFB documentaries Being Caribou (2004) and Finding Farley (2009). Both these films are based on long wilderness journeys in remote parts of Canada that continue to shape her work today. She is the co-creator of the 2012 NFB interactive documentary Bear 71, which is widely considered to be a seminal piece in the world of interactive media.

Calgary premiere

The Girl with the Red Beret by Janet Perlman (5 min 35 s)
Producer: Marc Bertrand for the NFB’s French Program Animation Studio
Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/beret

  • A girl takes a wild ride on the metro in Montreal. Travelling from station to station, she encounters an array of colourful characters in a bizarre musical journey that’s peppered with hilarious and unexpected incidents. A joyful, heartwarming animated film that portrays Montreal in all its vitality, creativity and diversity.
    The film is set to Kate and Anna McGarrigle’s timeless hit “Complainte pour Ste-Catherine,” which was re-recorded at the NFB in Montreal especially for the film. Kate and Anna’s daughters, Martha Wainwright and Lily Lanken, sang the main parts of this new version.
  • Also playing at the Edmonton International Film Festival (September 21 to October 1).
  • Montreal-born Janet Perlman is a director of short and funny animated films. She was 22 when she completed Lady Fishbourne’s Guide to Better Table Manners (1976) at the NFB. With her sophisticated, absurdist humour she has carved out a unique niche, and her film The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin (1981) earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Short Film.

Boat People by Thao Lam and Kjell Boersma (10 min)
Producers: Justine Pimlott for the NFB’s Ontario Studio and Jelena Popović for the NFB’s English Program Animation & Interactive Studio
Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/boat-people-2

  • Co-directed by Thao Lam and Kjell Boersma, Boat People is an animated documentary that uses a striking metaphor to trace one family’s flight across the turbulent waters of history. The film speaks across time and culture to anyone who’s ever fought to protect their family or community.
  • Boat People employs a hybrid of traditional 2D animation, stop-motion multiplane, and 3D rendering to capture the unique aesthetic of Lam’s handmade paper textures and patterns.
  • Thao Lam is a critically acclaimed Vietnamese-Canadian children’s book author and illustrator who arrived in Canada with her parents at the age of three as a refugee from Vietnam. Her books include the multi-award-winning Wallpaper (2018) and Paper Boat (2020).
  • Kjell Boersma is a writer, director and animator from Toronto whose projects combine traditional and digital animation techniques in novel ways. He directed the short film Monster Slayer (2015) and was commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and TIFF Kids to write and direct DAM! The Story of Kit the Beaver (2017).

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French version here | Version en français ici.

Media Relations

  • 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.