January 22, 2018 – Vancouver – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
Seven National Film Board of Canada films have been selected to screen at the Available Light Film Festival, taking place in Whitehorse from February 3–11. The festival will feature the Whitehorse premieres of two works from the NFB’s BC and Yukon Studio: Christopher Auchter’s animated short The Mountain of SGaana and Marie Clements’ feature documentary The Road Forward, as well as screenings of Alanis Obomsawin’s Incident at Restigouche, Charles Officer’s Unarmed Verses, Attiya Khan and Lawrence Jackman’s A Better Man (Intervention Productions/NFB), Matthew Rankin’s THE TESLA WORLD LIGHT, and Amanda Strong’s satirical PSA Naked Island: Hipster Headdress.
NFB Commissioner Claude Joli-Coeur and BC and Yukon Studio executive producer Shirley Vercruysse will also be in attendance, to meet with the creators, industry partners and audiences that have turned the Available Light Film Festival, Canada’s largest feature film fest north of 60°, into one of the most unique destinations for filmmakers and film lovers.
Schedule of NFB film screenings
February 3, 4:30 p.m., Naked Island: Hipster Headdress, Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre
Featured as part of the festival program “Four Faces of the Moon: Amanda Strong Animations,” the 40-second Naked Island: Hipster Headdress is an unapologetic confrontation of cultural appropriation and everything that’s wrong with hipsters in headdresses. Naked Island is an NFB series of 14 super-short and incisive films, framed as Public Service Alerts, from some of Canada’s most talented animators and artists, produced by Jelena Popović and Maral Mohammadian of the Animation Studio, with Michael Fukushima as executive producer.
February 4, 4 p.m., The Mountain of SGaana, Yukon Arts Centre
Presented along with the feature Journeys to Adäka, Haida filmmaker Chris Auchter’s animated short The Mountain of SGaana features a soundtrack by Whitehorse-based composer Daniel Janke. The 10-minute film spins a magical tale of a young man who is stolen away to the spirit world, and the young woman who rescues him. Auchter’s dream-like gem brilliantly entwines traditional animation with formal elements of Haida art, which are brought to life by a rich, evocative palette and stylized effects. Winner of the award for Best Animated Film or Series for Young Audiences (Ages 6–12) at the Ottawa International Animation Film Festival, The Mountain of SGaana is produced for the NFB by Shirley Vercruysse, with Vercruysse (BC and Yukon Studio) and Michael Fukushima (Animation Studio) as executive producers.
February 5, 3 p.m., Incident at Restigouche, Yukon Arts Centre
Sharing the bill with the independently produced Rise: Standing Rock Part 1 & 2, Alanis Obomsawin’s Incident at Restigouche is a landmark 1984 documentary film chronicling a series of raids on the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation by the Quebec Provincial Police in 1981 as part of the efforts of the Quebec government to impose new restrictions on First Nations fishermen. The screening of this classic doc comes as Obomsawin works to complete her 51st film in a legendary 50-year filmmaking career.
February 7, noon, The Road Forward, Yukon Arts Centre
A musical documentary by Marie Clements, The Road Forward connects a pivotal moment in Canada’s civil rights history—the beginnings of Indian Nationalism in the 1930s—with the powerful momentum of First Nations activism today. Clements paints an electrifying picture of how a tiny movement, the Native Brotherhood and Native Sisterhood, became a powerful voice for social, political and legal advocacy, eventually effecting profound change at the national level. The Road Forward’s musical sequences, performed by an ensemble of some of Canada’s finest vocalists and musicians, seamlessly connect past and present with soaring vocals, blues, rock, and traditional beats. The Road Forward is produced and executive produced by Shirley Vercruysse for the NFB’s BC and Yukon Studio in Vancouver.
February 7, 6 p.m., THE TESLA WORLD LIGHT, Yukon Arts Centre
Presented along with the feature Let There Be Light, Matthew Rankin’s visually stunning THE TESLA WORLD LIGHT offers up a tragic fantasy about Nikola Tesla—the father of alternating current—inspired by real-life events. Rankin has created a spectacular burst of image and sound in his latest work, which draws as much from the tradition of avant-garde cinema as it does from animated documentary. Currently nominated for Best Animated Short at the Canadian Screen Awards, this acclaimed eight-minute short was also recently named to TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival, a yearly compilation of the nation’s finest films. THE TESLA WORLD LIGHT is produced and executive produced by Julie Roy for the NFB’s French Animation Studio.
February 8, 3 p.m., Unarmed Verses, Yukon Arts Centre
Charles Officer’s feature documentary Unarmed Verses presents a thoughtful and vivid portrait of a community facing change, as marginalized Toronto Community Housing residents in the city’s northeast end prepare for relocation due to the impending demolition of the place they call home. At the centre of the film is the remarkable, astute and luminous Francine Valentine, whose poignant observations about life, the soul, and the power of art give voice to those rarely heard in society. Currently nominated for two Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Feature Length Documentary, Unarmed Verses was also selected to Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival, and named Best Canadian Feature Documentary at Hot Docs as well as Best Canadian Documentary at the Vancouver International Film Festival. It is produced by Lea Marin and executive produced by Anita Lee for the NFB’s Ontario Studio.
February 9, 4:30 p.m., A Better Man, Yukon Arts Centre
Attiya Khan makes her directorial debut alongside co-director Lawrence Jackman with A Better Man (Intervention Productions/NFB). Twenty-two years ago, she was an 18-year-old who feared for her life―fleeing her ex-boyfriend Steve, who’d been abusing her on a daily basis. Now, all these years later, Attiya wanted to know how he remembers their relationship and whether he’s willing to take responsibility for his actions. Their emotionally raw first meeting, filmed by Attiya with Steve’s consent, is the starting point for a fresh and nuanced look at how healing can happen when men take responsibility for the abuse they inflict. A Better Man is produced by Christine Kleckner for Intervention Productions and Justine Pimlott for the NFB’s Ontario Studio. The executive producers are Sarah Polley, Kathy Avrich-Johnson and Janice Dawe. The NFB executive producer for A Better Man is Anita Lee. Jane Jankovic is the executive producer for TVO.
Industry and Workshops
The NFB will be taking part in four industry events at the festival, including Close-Up on National Film Board of Canada with Claude Joli-Coeur + Shirley Vercruysse, a free discussion taking place February 4 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Old Fire Hall, providing national and regional overviews of the NFB’s projects and priorities.
Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopsis: A Beter Man | Incident at Restigouche | Naked Island: Hipster Headdress | The Mountain of SGaana | The Road Forward | THE TESLA WORLD LIGHT | Unarmed Verses
Available Light Film Festival