September 27, 2016 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) has five films featured this year at the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival (October 19 to 23), one of the longest-running women’s film festivals in the world.
Alethea Arnaquq-Baril’s award-winning feature documentary Angry Inuk (NFB/Unikkaat Studios/EyeSteelFilm) and Ann Marie Fleming’s Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming (Stickgirl Productions/Sandra Oh/NFB) have been selected along with three NFB animated short films: Janice Nadeau’s Mamie (Folimage/NFB), Wanda Nolan’s Mystery of the Secret Room and Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre’s Oscar (MJSTP Films/NFB).
Already a Canadian leader in women’s filmmaking, the NFB announced a new gender-parity commitment on March 8, 2016, International Women’s Day, ensuring that at least half of its productions will be directed by women and half of all production spending will be allocated to films directed by women. So this year’s strong selection at St. John’s is a great sign of things to come.
Seal hunting, a critical part of Inuit life, has been controversial for a long time. Alethea Arnaquq-Baril’s Angry Inuk shows how a new generation of Inuit, armed with social media and their own sense of humour and justice, are challenging the anti-sealing groups and bringing their own voices into the conversation. The Iqaluit-based director joins fellow Inuit activists as they challenge outdated perceptions of Inuit and present themselves to the world as a modern people in dire need of a sustainable economy. Angry Inuk is produced by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril and Bonnie Thompson (NFB), and executive produced by Bob Moore Daniel Cross and David Christensen (NFB).
Winner of the Vimeo On Demand Audience Award at Hot Docs, Angry Inuk is being presented at community and festival screenings across Canada this year, which will see Althea’s film bringing its message to communities large and small.
Janice Nadeau makes her solo directorial debut with Mamie (Folimage/NFB), the filmmaker’s personal and moving exploration of her own childhood, and in particular her relationship with her grandmother, animated through wonderful hand-painted watercolours. Selected for official competition at the prestigious Annecy International Animated Film Festival, Mamie was co-produced by Corinne Destombes for Folimage and Marc Bertrand for the NFB, with narration by Quebec actress Isabelle Blais. Nadeau previously collaborated with Nicola Lemay on the award-winning 2014 NFB animated short No Fish Where to Go, and is a three-time recipient of a Governor General’s Award for her book illustrations.
Mystery of the Secret Room
A young girl’s journey of adversity through the power of imagination, this six-minute animated short is a spellbinding voyage between the real and the imaginary, in which Grace uses her creative superpowers to navigate the emotional landscape of her mother’s depression. Writer/filmmaker Wanda Nolan collaborates with animator Claire Blanchet to weave together a visually rich and moving story. Images of nature abound, serving to allegorize the obstacles faced by people dealing with mental illness and the loved ones who stand by their side. Ultimately an inspiring portrait of family and resilience, Mystery of the Secret Room celebrates the transformative powers of literature and the imagination. The film is produced and executive produced by Annette Clarke.
Oscar (MJSTP Films/NFB) is acclaimed Quebec filmmaker Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre’s portrait of virtuoso pianist Oscar Peterson at the twilight of an exceptional career, as he wistfully meditates on the price of fame and the impacts of the artist’s life on family life. From the young prodigy’s beginnings in Montreal to his triumphs on the international scene, this 12-minute animated documentary explores the profound solitude of an artist constantly on tour. Set to the tunes of Peterson’s compositions, it’s a heartfelt story about a life in jazz, produced by Marc Bertrand (NFB), Jocelyne Perrier and Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre. Executive produced for the NFB by Julie Roy, Oscar had its world premiere last month at LA Shorts Fest.
Written and directed by Vancouver’s Ann Marie Fleming, Window Horses is a feature animation about love—love of family, poetry, history, culture―in which a young Canadian poet embarks on a whirlwind voyage of discovery. The film’s voice actors include Sandra Oh, Ellen Page, Don McKellar, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Nancy Kwan. More than a dozen animators, including Kevin Langdale, Janet Perlman, Bahram Javaheri and Jody Kramer, worked on the film with Fleming. Window Horses is co-produced by Stickgirl Productions (Ann Marie Fleming), Sandra Oh and the NFB (Shirley Vercruysse and Michael Fukushima), and distributed in Canada by Mongrel Media.
St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival
Online Screening Room: NFB.ca
Canadian media contact for Window Horses
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For the NFB
Director, Communications, Partnerships and Public Affairs, NFB