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The NFB at FICFA 2018. Eight NFB films screening at FICFA, including two docs making their world premiere: Daniel Léger’s Les artisans de l’atelier, which opens the festival, and Marie-France Guerrette’s Sans Maman.


October 30, 2018 – Moncton – National Film Board of Canada

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is back at the Festival international du cinéma francophone en Acadie (FICFA) with a rich selection of eight films. Included in the lineup of NFB productions and co-productions are two feature documentaries making their world premiere: Les artisans de l’atelier (The Artisans) by Acadian filmmaker Daniel Léger, which also opens the festival; and Sans Maman (Unmothered) by Marie-France Guerrette, a Franco-Albertan filmmaker with Acadian roots. Both will screen in competition. Jean-François Caissy’s feature documentary Premières armes (First Stripes), which continues its Canadian festival tour, will also screen in competition, while Pascale Ferland’s Pauline Julien, intime et politique (Pauline Julien, Intimate and Political) will screen out of competition. Four short films have also been selected for the animation program: Étreintes (Embraced) by Justine Vuylsteker (Offshore/NFB), Le sujet (The Subject) by Patrick Bouchard, La femme canon (The Cannonball Woman) by Albertine Zullo and David Toutevoix (Hélium Films/Parmi les lucioles films/NFB) and Un printemps (Winds of Spring) by Keyu Chen. Lastly, films from the NFB collection will screen in two special sections, one highlighting the work of animation filmmaker Robert Awad, the other celebrating the 50th anniversary of Léonard Forest’s landmark documentary Les Acadiens de la dispersion.

The screenings of NFB films at FICFA will take place at various locations in the Moncton area. For the complete schedule and details on the screenings, visit www.ficfa.com. The festival runs from November 15 to 23, 2018.

Competition – Best Acadian Medium-Length or Feature-Length Documentary

Les artisans de l’atelier (The Artisans), Daniel Léger (52 min) – Opening film – World premiere

  • “We’re beautiful, the whole gang. We’re special,” says Jean of the 15-odd employees at The Artisan, a workshop in Memramcook that employs people with intellectual disabilities. Jean is the self-described “handyman and best-looking” member of the group. A moving celebration of difference, Les artisans de l’atelier captures daily life at an organization where the workers are as courageous as they are colourful.
  • With his most recent film, Daniel Léger (A Sunday at 105, Inseparable) turns a compassionate lens onto a little-known humanist gem of a place.
  • The world premiere will take place on Thursday, November 15, at 8 p.m. at Moncton’s Théâtre Capitol and will be attended by protagonists from the film, along with the director and Christine Aubé, a producer at the NFB’s Canadian Francophonie Studio – Acadie.
  • The film will tour the Atlantic provinces following its world premiere in Moncton.
  • Produced at the NFB by Jac Gautreau and Dominic Desjardins.

Competition – Best Medium-Length or Feature-Length Documentary

Sans Maman (Unmothered), Marie-France Guerrette (72 min) – World premiere

  • When Mona Guerrette died from breast cancer at age 42, she left behind a husband and two daughters. How do you survive such a heartbreaking loss when you’re only a child? In this touching documentary about her family, Marie-France Guerrette blends home-movie footage and interviews to give viewers a window onto her own personal experience of grief. In the course of her filmmaking journey, the director was also forced to face an oppressive legacy: the risk of genetic cancer. Sans Maman offers a possible roadmap back to the land of the living for anyone who’s ever experienced the devastation of losing a loved one.
  • Marie-France Guerrette, a Franco-Albertan filmmaker who lived in Acadie (where a large part of her family still lives today), returns to FICFA with her first feature-length documentary. The festival had previously presented her two short films Le choeur d’une culture/Together in Harmony (2008) and Mon père, le roi/My Father, the King (2010), both of which were made under the Tremplin competition for emerging Francophone filmmakers.
  • The world premiere will take place on Sunday, November 18, at 7 p.m. at Théâtre l’Escaouette and will be attended by protagonists from the film, along with the director and Denis McCready, the new executive producer at the NFB’s Canadian Francophonie Studio.
  • Produced at the NFB by Dominic Desjardins.

Premières armes (First Stripes), Jean-François Caissy (106 min) Acadian premiere

  • Thrown into an intensive 12-week training program, young civilians are gradually transformed into soldiers. Premières armes takes viewers on a nuanced and compassionate cinematic journey into the heart of military training and its necessary indoctrination process. With mixed feelings of apprehension and eagerness, the recruits gradually join the ranks of what will become their new family.
  • Premières armes had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival and its Canadian premiere at Hot Docs, and also screened at the 2018 Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM).
  • It’s the third work in a series by Caissy exploring different stages of life, following Journey’s End (2009) and Guidelines (2014).
  • Premières armes is produced by Johanne Bergeron and executive produced by Colette Loumède at the NFB.

Out of competition

Pauline Julien, intime et politique (Pauline Julien, Intimate and Political), Pascale Ferland (78 min) Acadian premiere

  • Pauline Julien would have been 90 years old in 2018. Twenty years after Julien’s death, the latest documentary by Pascale Ferland captures the essence of the iconic Quebec singer—a passionately committed and eternally free spirit. Comprising a meticulous selection of interviews, performances and photos drawn from a vast and rich archival collection, the film follows Julien on a journey. Uncompromising and at times vulnerable, the artist tells her story through personal anecdotes and excerpts from her diary.
  • The film recently won the Prix du public at the Québec City Film Festival and has gone on to become a box office hit in cinemas across Quebec.
  • Produced by Colette Loumède and Johanne Bergeron (NFB), in collaboration with Radio-Canada.

Animation Program

All of the short films below are NFB productions or co-productions making their Acadian premiere.

Étreintes (Embraced), Justine Vuylsteker (6 min)

  • Standing still in front of an open window, a woman stares out at the dark clouds that obscure the sky. Immobile, she struggles against her memories of the past. In the clouds, the image of a passionate embrace appears.
  • The first film made entirely using the Épinette, the Alexeïeff-Parker pinscreen in France.
  • Made in France and Montreal as part of three creative residencies.
  • Co-produced by Rafael Andrea Soatto, Fabrice Préel-Cléach and Emmanuelle Latourrette for Offshore and Julie Roy for the NFB.

Le sujet (The Subject), Patrick Bouchard (10 min)

  • An animation filmmaker searches his own body for memories, emotions, and fears to inspire his work. As he starts making cuts with a scalpel, various symbolic objects emerge from his past. After smashing the ribs to reach the heart, he finds the burden he wishes to rid himself of.
  • The only Canadian film shown at the Cannes festival this year, Le sujet has also screened at the Annecy, Toronto and Ottawa festivals.
  • This is most personal work yet by director Patrick Bouchard (Bydlo), who created a life-sized cast of his own body for this film.
  • Produced at the NFB by Julie Roy.

La femme canon (The Cannonball Woman), Albertine Zullo and David Toutevoix (14 min)

  • Madeleine and her husband travel from village to village, putting on a spectacular show in which she plays the role of a human cannonball. But the couple’s domestic life is less than spectacular: every day seems to unfold just like the one before it. One morning, Madeleine makes a decision that changes the course of their lives. A bittersweet stop-motion animated film about love standing the test of time.
  • The film had its world premiere at the 2017 Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland and has screened at several other European and North American festivals.
  • Produced by Claude Barras for Hélium Films (Switzerland), Jérôme Duc-Maugé, Marianne Chazelas and Maxime Fossier for Parmi les lucioles Films (France), and Maral Mohammadian and Michael Fukushima for the NFB (Canada), in co-production with RTS Radio Télévision Suisse.

Un printemps (Winds of Spring), Keyu Chen (6 min)

  • Unfolding with the rhythm of the seasons, Un printemps tells the tender story of a young girl who, driven by the irrepressible need for self-fulfillment, decides to leave the family nest. Composed of fluid transitions and fine, spare lines inspired by Chinese ink painting, the film showcases the already well-developed aesthetic of this emerging filmmaker.
  • The winner of the 21st edition of the NFB’s Cinéaste recherché(e) competition, Keyu Chen studied animation for two years in Beijing, then left her native China and moved to Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 3D production. She now lives in Montreal.
  • Produced by Marc Bertrand and executive produced by Julie Roy for the NFB.

Special sections

  • FICFA will be honouring animator Robert Awad, who spent his childhood in Acadie, with a program of NFB-produced shorts directed by Awad: Truck, Automania, Amuse-gueule, Cochez oui, cochez non (Spectel Vidéo/NFB) and L’affaire Bronswik (co-directed with André Leduc), which turns 40 this year.
  • A special screening will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Léonard Forest’s Les Acadiens de la dispersion, a groundbreaking documentary on Acadian identity.


Related Products

Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopsis: Embraced | First Stripes | The Artisans | The Cannonball Woman | The Subject | Pauline Julien, intimate and political | Unmothered | Winds of Spring

Associated Links

Festival international du cinéma francophone en Acadie
Hélium Films
RTS Radio Télévision Suisse

Media Relations

  • Madeleine Blanchard
    Publicist for the NFB

  • Lily Robert
    Director, Communications and Public Affairs, NFB
    C.: 514-296-8261

  • 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.