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Six National Film Board of Canada works featured at the 2020 Calgary International Film Festival. World premiere of Cheryl Foggo’s much-anticipated John Ware Reclaimed headlines a selection of new and award-winning docs and animation.


September 8, 2020 – Vancouver – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

The world premiere of a feature documentary on a vital piece of Alberta’s history joins a stellar lineup of National Film Board of Canada (NFB) produced and co-produced documentary and animation at the 2020 Calgary International Film Festival, taking place September 24 to October 4.

Acclaimed Calgary-born filmmaker, author and playwright Cheryl Foggo’s North West Studio feature John Ware Reclaimed premieres in the Alberta Spotlight section.

Three award-winning NFB features have been chosen for the festival’s DGC Canadian Documentary Competition: Wintopia by Mira Burt-Wintonick (EyeSteelFilm/NFB), Stateless (Hispaniola Productions/NFB) by Michèle Stephenson and The Forbidden Reel (Loaded Pictures/NFB) by Ariel Nasr.

The shorts competition is presenting two NFB animated works: Catherine Lepage’s The Great Malaise and Jean-François Lévesque’s I, Barnabé (NFB with the participation of ARTE France).

Alberta Spotlight

John Ware Reclaimed by Cheryl Foggo

  • John Ware Reclaimed follows Foggo on her quest to re-examine the mythology surrounding John Ware, the Black cowboy who settled in Alberta before the turn of the 20th century. Her research uncovers who this iconic figure might have been, and what his legacy means in terms of anti-Black racism, both past and present.
  • Eight-time world champion rodeo star Fred Whitfield appears as Ware in the film, which also features interviews with author Lawrence Hill, researcher Bertrand Bickersteth and historian David Breen and others, filmed at key locations in Ware’s life.

Produced in Alberta by Bonnie Thompson and David Christensen, and executive produced by David Christensen for the NFB.

Synopsis, biographies, images: mediaspace.nfb.ca/john-ware-reclaimed

DGC Canadian Documentary Competition

Wintopia by Mira Burt-Wintonick

  • Wintopia is part Utopian odyssey, part mourning ritual, as a young filmmaker traces the enigmatic footsteps of her late father, renowned documentarian Peter Wintonick.
  • Peter Wintonick’s credits include the landmark Necessary Illusions/NFB co-production, Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, co-directed with Mark Achbar, and named Most Popular Canadian Film at the 1992 Vancouver International Film Festival.
  • Wintopia received the Colin Low Award for Canadian Documentary at DOXA 2020.

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

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

Stateless by Michèle Stephenson

  • Through the grassroots campaign of electoral hopeful Rosa Iris, director Michèle Stephenson’s new documentary reveals the depths of racial hatred and institutionalized oppression that divide Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
  • Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Canadian Feature Documentary at Hot Docs 2020 and the Best Feature Documentary Award at the 2020 BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia.

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

  • The story of Afghanistan’s fearless and visionary moviemakers—who gave birth to an extraordinary national cinema amidst war and chaos—and the films we almost never got to see.
  • Winner of a Rogers Audience Award at Hot Docs 2020.

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

Shorts Competition

The Great Malaise by Catherine Lepage

  • A young woman describes herself and her life in glowing terms, but the visual narrative tells a different story: with heart-rending power it illustrates the heavy burden of anxiety carried by this worried overachiever.
  • Winner of the People’s Choice Award and Jury’s Special Mention/Canadian Competition at the Sommets du cinéma d’animation 2019 in Montreal, and an official selection in the Generation 14plus section at Berlinale 2020.

Produced by Marc Bertrand and executive produced by Julie Roy for the NFB.

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

I, Barnabé  by Jean-François Lévesque

  • Created using stop-motion animation, puppets, and traditional 2D animation, I, Barnabé takes a luminous look at a desperate man’s existential crisis.
  • Lévesque began his work at the NFB in 2004, when he won the French Animation Studio’s 17th Cinéaste recherché(e) Competition. His creative residency allowed him to complete The Necktie (2008), which would go on to win 15 awards.

Produced and executive produced by Julie Roy for the NFB, with the participation of ARTE France.

Synopsis, biographies, images: mediaspace.nfb.ca/i-barnabe

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Associated Links

Calgary International Film Festival
Loaded Pictures
ARTE France
Rada Film Group
Hungry Eyes Media

French version here | Version en français 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.