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Nine NFB documentaries and a VR experience selected by Hot Docs.


April 14, 2020 – Toronto – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

Postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival has unveiled its 2020 official selection.

Hot Docs will be announcing further details at a later date.

Quick facts

  • Two feature-length documentary world premieres:
    • Acclaimed Toronto filmmaker Kevin McMahon’s new feature-length environmental documentary, Borealis (Primitive Entertainment/NFB/in association with TVO)
    • Emmy-nominated and Sundance award-winning director Michèle Stephenson’s Stateless (Hispaniola Productions/NFB)
  • Canadian premieres of:
  • Two Ontario debuts:
    • Montreal filmmaker and radio producer Mira Burt-Wintonick’s feature Wintopia
    • Nova Scotia filmmaker Jason Young’s short doc Gun Killers
  • Plus four NFB docs in retrospectives

Borealis by Kevin McMahon | World premiere, To Conserve and Protect—Hand in Hand with the Planet

  • Poetic in its approach and epic in its scale, Borealis captures a transformation in the boreal forest that has profound global significance.

Produced by Kevin McMahon and Kristina McLaughlin for Primitive Entertainment, and Justine Pimlott for the NFB. The executive producers are Michael McMahon (Primitive Entertainment), Anita Lee (NFB) and Jane Jankovic (TVO).

Synopsis, biographies, images: mediaspace.nfb.ca/borealis

Stateless by Michèle Stephenson | Canadian premiere, Canadian Spectrum

  • Through the grassroots campaign of electoral hopeful Rosa Iris, Stateless reveals the depths of racial hatred and institutionalized oppression that divide Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Produced by Jennifer Holness and Michèle Stephenson (Hispaniola Productions), and Lea Marin (NFB), and executive produced by Anita Lee (NFB), Joe Brewster (Rada Film Group) and Sudz Sutherland (Hungry Eyes Media).

Synopsis, biographies, images: mediaspace.nfb.ca/stateless

The Forbidden Reel by Ariel Nasr | Canadian premiere, Artscapes

  • The story of Afghanistan’s fearless and visionary moviemakers—and the films we almost never got to see.

Produced by Sergeo Kirby (Loaded Pictures) and Kat Baulu (NFB), with executive producers Sergeo Kirby and Annette Clarke (NFB).

Synopsis, biographies, images: mediaspace.nfb.ca/the-forbidden-reel

The Book of Distance by Randall Okita | Canadian premiere, DocX

  • In 1935, Yonezo Okita left Hiroshima to begin a new life in Canada—then war and state-sanctioned racism changed everything. Three generations later, his grandson leads us on an interactive virtual pilgrimage to recover what was lost.

Produced by David Oppenheim and executive produced by Anita Lee for the NFB.

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

Wintopia by Mira Burt-Wintonick | Ontario premiere, Artscapes

  • Wintopia is part Utopian odyssey, part mourning ritual, as a young filmmaker traces the enigmatic footsteps of her late father, renowned documentarian Peter Wintonick.

Produced by Bob Moore (EyeSteelFilmv) and Annette Clarke (NFB), with Daniel Cross and Mila Aung-Thwin as executive producers for EyeSteelFilm.

Synopsis, biographies, images: mediaspace.nfb.ca/wintopia

Gun Killers by Jason Young | Ontario premiere, Artscapes

  • As a typical day of harvesting vegetables descends into night, we experience the secret work that retired blacksmiths John and Nancy are sometimes called upon to undertake for the RCMP.

Produced by Rohan Fernando through the NFB’s Re-Imagining Nova Scotia initiative, Gun Killers is executive produced by Annette Clarke.

Synopsis, biographies, images: mediaspace.nfb.ca/gun-killers

Raymonde Provencher retrospective

As part of the festival’s Focus On retrospective honouring Quebec filmmaker Raymonde Provencher, Hot Docs will present her 2010 Macumba DOC/NFB co-production Grace, Milly, Lucy… Child Soldiers.

Special retrospective

Three NFB documentaries are also featured in a special retrospective of films on rebellion and revolution—both personal and political.

– 30 –

Related Products

Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopses: Borealis | Gun Killers | The Book of Distance | The Forbidden Reel | Stateless | Wintopia

Press release in French here | Communiqué en français ici.

Media Relations

  • About the NFB

    The NFB is Canada’s public producer and distributor of award-winning documentaries, auteur animation, interactive stories and participatory experiences, working with talented creators across the country. The NFB is taking action to combat systemic racism and become a more open and diverse organization, while working to strengthen Indigenous-led production and gender equity in film and digital media. NFB productions have won more than 7,000 awards, including 12 Oscars. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.