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NFB VR innovation and powerful documentaries on display at Edmonton’s NorthwestFest. Includes an interactive VR experience by Edmonton’s Tyler Enfield, Galen Scorer and Bonnie Thompson; Julia Ivanova’s feature doc on Fort McMurray; and an award-winning North West Studio short doc by Katherena Vermette and Erika MacPherson.


April 25, 2017 – Vancouver – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

The lineup of National Film Board of Canada titles at Edmonton’s NorthwestFest (May 5–14, 2017) features local productions, stories and innovation, with an interactive VR experience as well as three powerful documentary films.

The festival hosts the Western Canada premiere of NFB North West Studio’s multi-format project Invisible World, encompassing interactive film and virtual reality, on Saturday, May 13, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA). The work of an all-Edmonton key-creative team, including author and photographer Tyler Enfield, interactive artist Galen Scorer and producer Bonnie Thompson, Invisible World will be featured at two interactive screenings in the AGA theatre, with guest curators, while Invisible World: The VR Experience will be offered in the AGA lobby, with touchscreen available for users to experience Invisible World through the app. People everywhere can also view the interactive web experience at https://www.nfb.ca/invisibleworld.

A feature documentary film about a diverse group of young dreamers trying to jump-start their lives in Fort McMurray, Julia Ivanova’s Limit Is the Sky makes its Edmonton premiere on May 6 at 4 p.m. at the Metro Cinema, with the filmmaker in attendance. Another local North West Studio production, Limit Is the Sky recently received the 2016 Multimedia Award from the Petroleum History Society in Calgary.

Also produced by the North West Studio, and making its Alberta premiere at NorthwestFest, is this river―an award-winning short documentary by Katherena Vermette and Erika MacPherson that offers an Indigenous perspective on the devastating experience of searching for a loved one who has disappeared. Screening May 13 at 1:30 p.m. at the Matrix Hotel, this river was just named Best Short Documentary Film at the 5th Canadian Screen Awards.

Produced out of Toronto, Tiffany Hsiung’s feature documentary debut The Apology makes its Alberta premiere on May 10 at 7 p.m. at the Metro Cinema. The film follows the personal journeys of three former “comfort women” who were among the 200,000 girls and young women forced into military sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Following its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, The Apology was screened at festivals internationally, and most recently was named winner of the Audience Award at the Cork Film Festival.

Quick facts

Invisible World: The VR Experience

Invisible World: The VR Experience is an HTC Vive experience that lets audiences explore the layered points of view of three people whose lives intersect around a near-tragedy involving a child in Cambodia. The storyline moves between three points of view, across three different planes, and in a linear fashion towards the same end. Unlike most 360 videos that create a frameless experience, Invisible World: The VR Experience is interactive, inviting the audience to play with these cinematic planes as sculptural objects to move through, between and around.

Voiced in Khmer, English and French by actor Francois Chau (Lost, Hawaii Five-0), and the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize and Governor General’s Literary Award-winning author Madeleine Thien (Do Not Say We Have Nothing), Invisible World: The VR Experience was co-produced by the CFC Media Lab and the NFB’s North West Studio. It was created by Tyler Enfield and Galen Scorer, with the creative and technical support of gskinner. Producers are Bonnie Thompson (NFB) and Ana Serrano (CFC Media Lab). Executive producers are Ana Serrano and David Christensen (NFB).

Limit Is the Sky

Limit Is the Sky is an unflinchingly honest portrait of a new generation of youth: diverse, ambitious, and driven by the seductive lure of big cash and the lifestyle it buys. The film follows six young Canadians, including refugees from the Middle East and Africa, who come to Fort McMurray, the capital of the third-largest oil reserve in the world. “Fort Mac” becomes a testing ground for these young dreamers as they struggle with their own perceptions of money, glory and self-worth, amid plummeting oil prices, an unpredictable economy and, most recently, a devastating wildfire. Limit Is the Sky is produced by Bonnie Thompson and executive produced by David Christensen for the North West Studio.

this river

Winner of the Coup de coeur du jury award at its world premiere at the Montréal First Peoples Festival, this river focuses on Katherena Vermette and Kyle Kematch, Winnipeggers who have both experienced the heartbreak of losing a loved one. Kyle has a sister who went missing over five years ago. He now works with Drag the Red, a volunteer organization that searches the Red River for clues relating to missing members of the Indigenous community. Vermette’s poetry stems from a family tragedy of her own, which took place over 20 years ago. Though their stories are different, they each exemplify the beauty, grace, resilience, and activism born out of the need to do something. this river is produced by Alicia Smith and executive produced by David Christensen for the NFB’s North West Studio.

The Apology

The Apology follows the personal journeys of three “grandmothers”—Grandma Gil in South Korea, Grandma Cao in China, and Grandma Adela in the Philippines―former “comfort women” who were among the 200,000 girls and young women kidnapped and forced into military sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. After decades of living in silence and shame, they know that time is running out to give a first-hand account of the truth and ensure that this horrific chapter of history is not forgotten. Produced and executive produced by Anita Lee for the NFB’s Ontario Studio in Toronto.


Associated Links

Art Gallery of Alberta
Metro Cinema
Matrix Hotel

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.