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Six NFB U.S. premieres at Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Documentaries and animation offer audiences acclaimed works, new points of view


January 18, 2017 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

The 2017 Santa Barbara International Film Festival (February 1–11, 2017) will play host to six U.S. premieres from the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), with five documentary films as well as a feature-length animation that all offer new perspectives on social and environmental issues.

With the seal hunt criticized by anti-sealing activists, U.S. audiences will finally have a chance to hear from the Inuit side of the debate in Alethea Arnaquq-Baril’s documentary Angry Inuk (NFB/Unikkaat Studios/EyeSteelFilm). The first feature-length animation from the NFB in two decades, Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming (Stickgirl Productions/Sandra Oh/NFB) follows a young poet to Iran on a personal journey of reconciliation and understanding.

A visual feast in itself, Peter Svatek’s Theater of Life (Triplex Films/NFB/Phi Films) takes us inside the creation of an extraordinary soup kitchen supplied by some of the world’s top chefs, while Zaynê Akyol’s Gulîstan, Land of Roses (Périphéria/Mîtosfilm/NFB) follows Kurdish female fighters battling ISIS. Rounding out the NFB selection are two shorter documentaries that look at events both baffling and promising in the world’s oceans: John Hopkins’ Bluefin and Justin Simms’ HAND.LINE.COD.

Angry Inuk

Angry Inuk introduces audiences to a new generation of Inuit who are challenging anti-sealing groups and bringing their voices into the conversation. Arnaquq-Baril and her cameras travel through the Canadian Arctic to hear from the people that are often ignored—the hunters, the craftspeople, the families for whom the seal hunt is a critical part of their livelihood and survival―and follow a group of students to Europe where they plead the Inuit case before a European Union panel.

Seal meat is a staple food for Inuit, with many of the pelts sold to offset the extraordinary cost of hunting. Inuit are pushing for a sustainable way to take part in the global economy. Angry Inuk interweaves the reality of Inuit life with their challenge to the anti-sealing industry and to nations that mine resources on Inuit lands while simultaneously destroying the main sustainable economy available there.

Distributed in the U.S. by Bond360 thanks to a recently signed deal, Angry Inuk has garnered top honours in Canada, including the Audience Award at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, as well as a selection to the Toronto International Film Festival’s Top Ten Canadian films of 2016. An Unikkaat Studios Inc. production in co-production with the NFB, in association with EyeSteelFilm, Angry Inuk is produced by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril and Bonnie Thompson (NFB), and executive produced by Bob Moore, Daniel Cross, and David Christensen (NFB).

Window Horses

Director Ann Marie Fleming’s Window Horses is a feature-length animated film about a young Canadian poet who embarks on a whirlwind voyage of discovery—of herself, her family, love, history, and the nature of poetry. The film’s voice actors include such well-known talents as Sandra Oh, 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.

Awards to date for the film include the Jury Prize at South Korea’s Bucheon International Animation Festival, Best B.C. Film and Best Canadian Film awards at the Vancouver International Film Festival, and the Centennial Best Canadian Film or Video Award at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival. Window Horses is co-produced by Ann Marie Fleming (Stickgirl Productions), Sandra Oh, and Shirley Vercruysse and Michael Fukushima for the NFB.


Bluefin immerses audiences in a tale of epic stakes set in North Lake, PEI, the “tuna capital of the world.” Winner of the award for Best Atlantic Filmmaker at the Lunenburg Doc Fest for filmmaker John Hopkins, Bluefin explores the baffling mystery of why the normally wary bluefin tuna no longer fear humans, with locals swearing that the fish are so starving and abundant they’ll literally eat out of people’s hands.  At the heart of this documentary lies a passionate concern by all about the fate of the giant bluefin tuna. Produced by Annette Clarke and Paul McNeill.


Set in the coldest waters surrounding Newfoundland’s rugged Fogo Island, Justin Simms’ short film HAND.LINE.COD. follows a group of “people of the fish”—traditional fishers who catch cod live by hand, by hook and line, one at a time. With stocks returning after a 20-year moratorium on North Atlantic cod, these fishers are leading a revolution in sustainability. Produced by Annette Clarke, the film is dedicated to the memory of NFB film pioneer Colin Low, who shot 27 films in Fogo Island for Challenge for Change, developing a revolutionary way to use film as a tool to bring about social change and combat poverty.

Theater of Life

In Peter Svatek’s Theater of Life, two vastly different worlds are brought together by a unique social experiment at an extraordinary soup kitchen in Milan, where chef Massimo Bottura―whose Osteria Francescana was named world’s best restaurant in 2016―asked 60 top chefs, including New York City’s Mario Batali (Babbo, Eataly NYC) and Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park), to join him in transforming surplus food from Expo 2015 into delicious and nutritious meals for Italy’s hungriest. Theater of Life puts a human face on its powerful message of social justice while raising awareness about the enormous environmental impact of food waste, in which 1.3 billion tons of food per year are thrown away globally, or fully a third of all food produced.

Winner of the Tokyo Gohan Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival and named Best Canadian Feature at Toronto’s Planet in Focus International Environmental Film & Video Festival, Theater of Life is produced by Josette Gauthier (Triplex Films) and Annette Clarke (NFB), and distributed internationally by Seville International.

Gulîstan, Land of Roses

Zaynê Akyol’s feature documentary Gulîstan, Land of Roses follows Kurdish female fighters who share their revolutionary and feminist ideals as they fight for their territory and wage war against ISIS, the so-called Islamic State group. The film has been honoured internationally, including with the coveted Doc Alliance Selection Award, chosen by seven of Europe’s top documentary film festivals; Best Feature Film at the Milano Film Festival; as well as the Spirit Award and Audience Award at South Korea’s EBS International Documentary Festival.

Gulîstan, Land of Roses is produced by Sarah Mannering, Fanny Drew and Yanick Létourneau (Périphéria), Mehmet Aktaş (Mîtosfilm), and Nathalie Cloutier and Denis McCready (NFB).


Associated Links

Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Unikkaat Studios
Phi Films


Massimo Bottura
Seville International

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.