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Ten National Film Board of Canada shorts and VR projects. World premieres of Robin McKenna’s Thanadoula and Daniel Gray’s HIDE at the 2020 Ottawa International Animation Festival.


September 9, 2020 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

Audiences everywhere will be able to discover unique visions and power personal stories from acclaimed National Film Board of Canada (NFB) auteur animators at the Ottawa International Animation Festival (Sept. 23–Oct. 4) as OIAF 2020 goes online worldwide, with single tickets or passes available now.

Two world premieres in official competition:

  • Toronto-based director Robin McKenna’s first animated documentary Thanadoula (Gaudete Films/NFB), featuring the art direction of Elise Simard.
  • The international co-production HIDE (La Cellule Productions/NFB/CUB Animation Studio) by UK-born, Hungary-based creator Daniel Gray, whose 2006 short t.o.m. (with Tom Brown) was named Best Graduation Animation at OIAF.

Also in animation competition:

  • Quebec animator Jean-François Lévesque’s I, Barnabé (NFB with the participation of ARTE France), the latest NFB work from the creator of The Necktie (2008).
  • 4 North A, the first collaboration between Newfoundland native Jordan Canning and Saskatoon-born Howie Shia, now both based in Toronto.
  • Altötting (Studio Film Bilder/NFB/Ciclope Filmes) by German animator Andreas Hykade, featuring design by Portugal’s Regina Pessoa.

Three VR works in competition:

Canadian Panorama:

  • The Fake Calendar by emerging Atikamekw creator Meky Ottawa, produced through the Hothouse program.
  • NFB Animation: 80th Anniversary, by Montreal animator Alex Boya.
    Veteran NFB filmmaker and past OIAF honorary president Donald McWilliams is also a jury member at this year’s festival.

Film synopses:

  • Thanadoula (6 min 38 s)
    Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/thanadoula“I could have been there with her…” Two sisters entwined by love. When Annie disappears, her younger sister, Natalie, seeks her out in an unconventional way: as a thanadoula, accompanying the dying in their final stages. Between their slow and final breaths, Natalie finds a bridge between life and death and, ultimately, a pathway to her sister.
  • HIDE (11 min)
    Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/hide-short-filmTwo brothers entertain themselves with a game of hide and seek. Seconds pass… then minutes… years… and decades. HIDE is a heartrending and prescient story about family and disconnect, in a world that is increasingly fragmented and unrecognizable.
  • 4 North A (11 min)
    Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/4-north-aA woman sits in a hospital room, alone with her dying father. As the constant din of antiseptic hospital noises pushes her to confront her inevitable loss, she escapes into a series of lush childhood memories.
  • Altötting (11 min)
    Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/altotting“You know, when I was a boy, I fell in love with the Virgin Mary. It happened in a little Bavarian town called Altötting.” A mesmerizing, haunting and deeply personal coming-of-age story about love, faith, mortality and shattered illusions.
  • I, Barnabé (15 min)
    Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/i-barnabeCreated using stop-motion animation, puppets, and traditional 2D animation, I, Barnabé takes a luminous look at a desperate man’s existential crisis. During a night of stormy drunkenness, he receives a visit from a mysterious bird and is forced to reconsider his life.
  • The Fake Calendar (1 min)
    Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/fakeA neon glimpse at how people come up with interesting and creative ways to avoid social functions, in favour of their own private space. For its 12th edition, the NFB’s Hothouse program for emerging animators teamed up with imagineNATIVE and associate producers Amanda Strong and Amanda Roy to help address underrepresentation of Indigenous creators in film animation.
  • NFB Animation: 80th Anniversary (1 min)
    A powerful, impressionistic tribute to NFB animation on the occasion of its 80th anniversary in 2019, created by Hothouse alumnus Alex Boya with the help and archives of Donald McWilliams.

VR works

  • The Book of Distance
    Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/the-book-of-distanceIn 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.
  • The Hangman at Home – VR
    Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/the-hangman-at-home-vr“What does the hangman think about when he goes home at night from work?” Inspired by the iconic Carl Sandburg poem, this VR single-user immersive experience explores the awkward intimacy that comes with being human, and the connection between spectator, witness and accomplice.
  • The Orchid and the Bee
    Press Kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/the-orchid-and-the-beeA work in three acts inspired by Darwin’s theory of evolution in which survivors are not the strongest nor most intelligent, but the most adaptable to change, as Frances Adair Mckenzie brings a mischievous sense of play to the realm of virtual reality.

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Associated Links

Ottawa International Animation Festival
Gaudete Films
La Cellule Productions
CUB Animation Studio
ARTE France
Studio Film Bilder
Ciclope Filmes
Late Love Production
Floréal Films

Media Relations for The Hangman at Home – VR
Sophie St-Pierre
Communications Mingotwo
514-378-6955 | sophie@mingo2.ca

French version here | Version en français ici.

Media Relations

  • About the NFB

    The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is a leader in exploring animation as an artform, a storytelling medium and innovative content for emerging platforms. It produces trailblazing animated works both in its Montreal studios and across  the country, and it works with many of the world’s leading creators on international co-productions. NFB productions have won more than 7,000 awards, including seven Oscars for NFB animation and seven grand prizes at the Annecy festival. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.