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Bold new works from Vancouver, BC and beyond… NFB Vancouver productions and creators showcased at VIFF 2022


September 7, 2022 – Vancouver – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

Three world premieres from the National Film Board of Canada’s BC and Yukon Studio in Vancouver will be headlining a powerful selection of NFB documentary, animated and VR storytelling at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF).

A total of eight NFB works will be presented at VIFF, which takes place September 29 through October 9.

Festival goers will be the first to see these three Vancouver productions:

  • The feature-length documentary Lay Down Your Heart, directed by Métis Dene filmmaker Marie Clements, co-written with Niall McNeil;
  • Unarchived, a feature doc by Vancouver-based directors Hayley Gray and Elad Tzadok;
  • Zeb’s Spider, an animated short written anddirected by Montreal’s Alicia Eisen and Vancouver’s Sophie Jarvis, with animation by Alicia Eisen.

Four more NFB productions will be making their BC premieres at VIFF:

  • Vancouver filmmaker lori lozinski’s deeply personal short doc A Motorcycle Saved My Life;
  • The feature-length music and cinema experience Ever Deadly by avant-garde Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq and Toronto director Chelsea McMullan;
  • The Flying Sailor, an animated short by the Calgary duo of Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis;
  • Heartbeat of a Nation, a short doc by Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation director Eric Janvier.

Signals: Presented by VIFF + DigiBC will feature the Vancouver premiere of This Is Not a Ceremony by Ahnahktsipiitaa (Colin Van Loon), who lives on Westbank First Nation lands in West Kelowna.

World premieres

Lay Down Your Heart, directed by Marie Clements; written by Marie Clements and Niall McNeil  (70 min)
Produced by Shirley Vercruysse for the BC and Yukon Studio in Vancouver
Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/lay-down-your-heart

  • An intimate look into the mind of Niall McNeil, an artist and performer with Down syndrome, and his unique chosen family. In Lay Down Your Heart, Niall introduces us to his many “family members,” his multiple “children,” his renowned “ex-wife” and director of the film Marie Clements, and other bonds forged through open-hearted creativity.
  • Niall McNeil is a multidisciplinary creator and in 2022 became the first Canadian artist with Down syndrome to receive a Canada Council for the Arts Composite Grant. This is his second project with Clements, after appearing in her 2012 short Pilgrims.
  • Marie Clements is a Métis Dene filmmaker who wrote and directed the award-winning 2017 musical documentary The Road Forward, produced by the BC and Yukon Studio. Also premiering this fall is her dramatic feature Bones of Crows, an epic account of the life of Cree matriarch Aline Spears.

Unarchived by Hayley Gray and Elad Tzadok (85 min)
Produced by Teri Snelgrove for the BC and Yukon Studio in Vancouver
Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/unarchived

  • Co-directors Hayley Gray and Elad Tzadok explore community archives across British Columbia, where local knowledge keepers are hand-fashioning a more inclusive history through family photos, newspaper articles and scratchy old VHS tapes—people building connection through work, play, protest, family and tradition.
  • A graduate of the Vancouver Film School, Hayley Gray is a Vancouver-based director, writer and producer. Her acclaimed films have travelled to festivals around the world.
  • Elad Tzadok is an award-winning director, producer and editor. Born in Israel, Tzadok moved to Vancouver where he graduated from the Film Production Program at UBC and co-founded Scopitone Films.

Zeb’s Spider is written and directed by Alicia Eisen and Sophie Jarvis, with animation by Alicia Eisen (10 min.)
Produced by Shirley Vercruysse and Teri Snelgrove for the BC and Yukon Studio in Vancouver
Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/zebs-spider

  • An eight-legged force of fate spins a complex web in Alicia Eisen and Sophie Jarvis’s stop-motion film, Zeb’s Spider. What begins as a way of coping with an uninvited arachnid soon takes on a monstrous life of its own.
  • Alicia Eisen and Sophie Jarvis previously worked with the BC and Yukon Studio on Come to Your Senses, a 2020 short film created for the COVID-19 online project The Curve.
  • Eisen’s first two independently produced films have garnered international awards and screenings. Jarvis’s debut dramatic feature, Until Branches Bend, premiered this fall at TIFF.

BC premieres

Ever Deadly by Tanya Tagaq and Chelsea McMullan (90 min)
Produced by Lea Marin, Anita Lee and Kate Vollum for the Ontario Studio in Toronto
Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/ever-deadly

  • This feature doc weaves concert footage with stunning sequences filmed on location in Nunavut, seamlessly bridging landscapes, stories and songs with pain, anger and triumph—all through the expressions of one of the most innovative musical performers of our time.
  • Tanya Tagaq is an improvisational singer, avant-garde composer and author from Cambridge Bay (Iqaluktuuttiaq), who now divides her time between Nunavut and Toronto. Tagaq is an original disruptor, a world-changing figure at the forefront of seismic social, political and environmental change.
  • Toronto filmmaker Chelsea McMullan creates documentary, experimental narrative, and hybrid films that explore the work of leading international artists. McMullan’s first documentary feature, My Prairie Home, was named Best Canadian Documentary at the 2014 Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards.

The Flying Sailor by Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis (7 min 45 s)
Produced by David Christensen for the North West Studio in Edmonton
Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/the-flying-sailor

  • Inspired by an incredible true story of a man who was blown two kilometres through the air by the 1917 Halifax Explosion, the animated short The Flying Sailor is at once a bold blend of comedy, suspense and philosophy and an exhilarating contemplation of the wonder and fragility of existence.
  • Calgary-based animators Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis met at Vancouver’s Emily Carr College of Art and Design. Their work together includes the Oscar-nominated shorts When the Day Breaks (1999) and Wild Life (2012).

Heartbeat of a Nation by Eric Janvier (20 min)
Produced by Coty Savard for the North West Studio in Edmonton
Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/heartbeat-of-a-nation

  • In the Northern Alberta community of Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation, a father teaches his child how to create a caribou drum. In Heartbeat of a Nation, cultural reclamation and traditional knowledge are celebrated and passed down from one generation to the next, inspiring renewed hope for the future.
  • Eric Janvier is a multi-hyphenate filmmaker from the Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation who has found space in both the narrative and documentary fields. He recently produced the upcoming indie feature film Hey Viktor!

A Motorcycle Saved My Life by lori lozinski (12 min)
Produced by Teri Snelgrove for the BC and Yukon Studio in Vancouver
Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/a-motorcycle-saved-my-life

  • In A Motorcycle Saved My Lifethe open road presents a point of departure for director lori lozinski to process deep-seated grief, as she bikes through British Columbia and into Northern Alberta’s vast, open spaces. Revisiting the formative experiences that drove her ambition, lozinski examines the influence of her parents in the present light of day.
  • Vancouver filmmaker lori lozinski is recognized for producing socially conscious, character-driven stories with female creatives. She recently co-produced Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers’ award-winning feature doc Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy with the NFB.

Signals: Presented by VIFF + DigiBC

This Is Not a Ceremony by Ahnahktsipiitaa (Colin Van Loon) (21 min)
English, Blackfoot with English subtitles
Produced by Dana Dansereau for the Animation and Interactive Studio in Vancouver in partnership with the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival
Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/this-is-not-a-ceremony

  • Ahnahktsipiitaa takes us beyond the veil of traditional media and transports us directly into another realm, where past, present and future are one; where colonial rules and assumptions are forgotten; and where we can finally get to the truth of the matter.
  • This Is Not a Ceremony features Vancouver-based spoken word artist Tawahum Bige along with late actor Taran Standing Sunrise Kootenhayoo and late Indigenous leader Lilian Rose Howard.
  • Signals: Presented by VIFF + DigiBC is exhibiting This Is Not a Ceremony following its US premieres at Sundance and Tribeca 2022.
  • Ahnahktsipiitaa is Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and Dutch, originally from the Piikani Nation in Southern Alberta. A long-time Vancouverite, he currently lives on Westbank First Nation lands in West Kelowna, British Columbia.

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Associated Links

Vancouver International Film Festival
imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival

French version here | Version française 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.