1. Media Space

  2. Press Releases

NFB VR innovation highlighted at one of world’s top festivals. Pietro Gagliano’s Agence, Michelle and Uri Kranot’s The Hangman at Home – VR and Randall Okita’s The Book of Distance showcased at the Venice International Film Festival.


August 11, 2020 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

The National Film Board of Canada’s leadership in virtual reality innovation will be on display at the 77th Venice International Film Festival (September 2 to 12) with three NFB produced and co-produced VR works: Pietro Gagliano’s Agence (Transitional Forms/NFB), Michelle and Uri Kranot’s The Hangman at Home – VR (Late Love Production/Floréal Films/Miyu Productions/NFB) and Randall Okita’s The Book of Distance.

World premieres in official competition—Venice VR Expanded, accessible worldwide online

  • Agence is an industry-first dynamic film that integrates cinematic storytelling, artificial intelligence, and user interactivity to create a different experience each time.
  • The Hangman at Home – VR is a single-user immersive experience, based on the iconic Carl Sandburg poem of the same title.

Presented in the Best of VR, accessible worldwide online

  • The Book of Distance is Okita’s acclaimed first work in VR, presented at Venice following its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and subsequent invitations to Tribeca Immersive, CannesXR, Hot Docs and SIGGRAPH.


* Synopsis, biographies, images:  mediaspace.nfb.ca/agence

Would you play god to intelligent life? Agence places the fate of artificially intelligent creatures in your hands. In their simulated universe, you have the power to observe, and to interfere. Maintain the balance of their peaceful existence or throw them into a state of chaos as you move from planet to planet. Watch closely and you’ll see them react to each other and their emerging world.

Created by Pietro Gagliano, Agence is a co-production between his studio lab Transitional Forms and the NFB. Pietro is a pioneer of new forms of media that allow humans to understand what it means to be machine, and machines what it means to be human. Previously, Pietro co-founded digital studio Secret Location, and with his team, made history in 2015 by winning the first ever Emmy Award for a virtual reality project. His work has been recognized through hundreds of awards and nominations, including two Emmy Awards, 11 Canadian Screen Awards, 31 FWAs, two Webby Awards, a Peabody-Facebook Award, and a Cannes Lion.

Agence is produced by Casey Blustein (Transitional Forms) and David Oppenheim (NFB) and executive produced by Pietro Gagliano (Transitional Forms) and Anita Lee (NFB).

The Hangman at Home – VR

* Synopsis, biographies, images: mediaspace.nfb.ca/the-hangman-at-home-vr

“What does the hangman think about when he goes home at night from work?” Inspired by the iconic Carl Sandburg poem (1922), this VR single-user immersive experience explores themes of acknowledgement and participation. It is not about hanging people, but about the awkward intimacy that comes with being human, and the connection between spectator, witness, and accomplice. The animated, interactive experience invites you into five interwoven stories, capturing pivotal moments in people’s lives. The Hangman at Home – VR ultimately reveals that we are all more alike than different, while raising questions of responsibility.

Michelle and Uri Kranot’s multi-media work fuses animation and new technologies to create contemporary experiences. The Kranots are the founders of TinDrum, a research and development studio, and the producers and creative directors of ANIDOX, a program of The Animation Workshop in Viborg, Denmark, that focuses on developing and producing animated documentaries. The Kranots first gained recognition with films such as Black Tape, Hollow Land (Dansk Tegnefilm/Les Films de l’Arlequin/NFB), How Long, Not Long and the VR installations Nothing Happens and Songbird. They have been honoured with top industry awards for their work, including the FIPRESCI Prize at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival.

The Hangman at Home – VR is produced by Lana Tankosa Nikolic (Late Love Production), Avi Amar and Katayoun Dibamehr (Floréal Films), Emmanuel-Alain Raynal and Pierre Baussaron (Miyu Productions), and Marc Bertrand (NFB). Julie Roy Is the executive producer for the NFB’s French Animation Studio. The project has been supported by: the Danish Film Institute, the West Danish Film Fund, the CNC (Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée), Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Charente county council (as part of Pôle Image Magelis) and The Animation Workshop.

The Book of Distance

* Synopsis, biographies, images: mediaspace.nfb.ca/the-book-of-distance

In 1935, Yonezo Okita left his home in Hiroshima, Japan, for Canada. Then war and racism changed everything. Three generations later, his grandson Randall leads us on an interactive pilgrimage through an emotional geography of immigration and family to recover what was lost.

The Book of Distance is the third NFB production for Randall Okita, who directed the multi-award-winning The Weatherman and the Shadowboxer (2014), as well as the NFB short Ben Heppner: Moving Through Music (2016) for the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards—and whose feature directorial debut The Lockpicker received the John Dunning Discovery Award from the Canadian Academy of Cinema and Television.

The Book of Distance is produced by David Oppenheim and executive produced by Anita Lee for the NFB.

– 30 –

Associated Links

77th Venice International Film Festival
Transitional Forms
Late Love Production
Floréal Films
Miyu Productions

About Transitional Forms

Transitional Forms is a studio lab focused on evolving entertainment formats through the use of artificial intelligence. Through their innovative approach to content and tool creation, their interdisciplinary team transforms valuable research into dynamic, culturally relevant experiences across a myriad of emerging platforms. Dedicated to the intersection of technology and art, Transitional Forms strives to make humans more creative, and machines more human.

About Late Love Production

Late Love Production is an animation studio based in Viborg, Denmark, owned by producer Lana Tankosa Nikolic. It produces art-house animation, documentaries, shorts, features and VR experiences, developing intelligent, high-quality auteur projects that challenge audiences. Late Love Production co-produces with organizations in France, Canada, the UK and Germany, and has had projects financed and supported by the Danish Film Institute and the West Danish Film Fund. Lana has worked with directors such as Michelle and Uri Kranot, Paul Bush and Martina Scarpelli.

About Floréal Films

Founded in 2014, Floréal Films is an independent production company based in Paris whose mission is to discover filmmakers with a desire to express themselves through their craft. Their aim is to establish lasting relationships with an emerging generation of talent, accompanying them at every step and coming up with tailor-made production strategies for both traditional filmmaking and new forms of storytelling.

About Miyu Productions

Created in May 2009 by Emmanuel-Alain Raynal, Miyu Productions is an audiovisual production company that specializes in animation, creating short films, series and features. Since 2015, Emmanuel-Alain has led the company in collaboration with Pierre Baussaron.

About the NFB

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is one of the world’s leading digital content hubs, creating groundbreaking interactive documentaries and animation, mobile content, installations and participatory experiences. NFB interactive productions and digital platforms have won 100 awards, including 21 Webbys and 12 Academy Awards. To access this award-winning content and discover the work of NFB creators, visit NFB.ca, download its apps for mobile devices or visit NFB Pause.

French version here | Version française ici.

Media Relations