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The NFB at FIFA 2020 in Montreal and Quebec City: three films selected, including the world premiere and in-competition screening of Monique LeBlanc’s feature doc Plus haut que les flammes (Higher Than Flames Will Go).


(Images provided by the NFB)

February 18, 2020 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) returns to the International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) with three films that offer fascinating perspectives on different artistic practices. The selection includes two world premieres: screening in the international competition, the feature-length auteur doc Plus haut que les flammes (Higher Than Flames Will Go) by Acadian filmmaker Monique LeBlanc, a film adaptation of Louise Dupré’s acclaimed book of poetry; and the short documentary À ciel ouvert, portrait d’un pavillon à Venise (Open Sky: Portrait of a Pavilion in Venice) by Katerine Giguère. In addition, Ellie Yonova’s feature-length documentary Luben and Elena will be having its Quebec premiere. FIFA runs from March 17 to 29, 2020, in Montreal and Quebec City.

Plus haut que les flammes (Higher Than Flames Will Go) is a moving adaptation of Louise Dupré’s 2011 Governor General’s Award-winning book of poetry Plus haut que les flammes, recited in its entirety by actor Violette Chauveau, and filmed at various locations, including Auschwitz, Canada, Louisiana, Nicaragua, and Ukraine. À ciel ouvert, portrait d’un pavillon à Venise (Open Sky: Portrait of a Pavilion in Venice) recounts the story of the magnificent Canada Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, whose restoration was completed in 2018 to mark its 60th anniversary. Luben and Elena is an intimate portrait of renowned artists Luben Boykov and Elena Popova.


“I absolutely had to make [Plus haut que les flammes] into a film. But how do you make a poem—this poem—into a film? I had to find a cinematic approach or process in which words and images could form a single language, an alliance where neither would have to make compromises for the other.” – Monique LeBlanc, filmmaker

Quick facts

International competition

  • Plus haut que les flammes (Higher Than Flames Will Go), by Monique LeBlanc (105 min.) – World premiere
    The poem, like the film, begins with the phrase “Ton poème a surgi de l’enfer” (Your poem rises up from hell). Shaken by a trip to Auschwitz and Birkenau, a woman tries to continue to live and care for a child. Because beyond the worst horrors created by humanity, there is childhood, for and through which time marches on. There are also those who watch over these small beings, working each day to keep them alive, clean, and safe. Weaving connections between different stories, realities, and landscapes, the filmmaker offers an anchor point for reflecting on the outcome and ensuring that those who will inherit the world are raised as high as possible, “higher than flames will go.”
  • Screenings at FIFA (original French version):
    • Montreal: Friday, March 20, at 8:30 p.m. at the Imperial Cinema, attended by the filmmaker and NFB producer Christine Aubé. A second screening will be held on Tuesday, March 24, at 5:30 p.m. at Cinéma Cineplex Odeon Quartier Latin.
    • Quebec City: Sunday, March 22, at 7 p.m. at Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, attended by the filmmaker and producer.
    • Screenings in Moncton, where the film was produced (NFB’s Canadian Francophonie Studio – Acadie), are being planned for the spring.

Official selection

  • À ciel ouvert, portrait d’un pavillon à Venise (Open Sky: Portrait of a Pavilion in Venice), by Katerine Giguère (26 min.) – World premiere
    Since 1958, the Canada Pavilion at the Venice Biennale has welcomed contemporary Canadian artists and architects and their works. Katerine Giguère directs an intimate portrait of this architectural gem, designed by Milan’s famous Studio BBPR. Giguère showcases the building’s history and architecture which, like its gardens, recently underwent a major restoration, led by the National Gallery of Canada.
  • Luben and Elena, by Ellie Yonova (75 min.) – Quebec premiere
    A portrait of artists Luben Boykov and Elena Popova, who fled the repression of communist Bulgaria and found refuge in Newfoundland, embracing the love of art and the art of love. The film received its world premiere at the FIN Atlantic International Film Festival and was selected to screen at the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival.
  • These two films will be presented together at FIFA (French-subtitled versions):
    • Montreal: Sunday, March 22, at 12:30 p.m. at the McCord Museum, attended by the filmmaker, Katerine Giguère, and NFB executive producers Annette Clarke (Luben and Elena) and André Picard (À ciel ouvert, portrait d’un pavillon à Venise).
    • Quebec City: Saturday, March 21, at 1 p.m. at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.

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Related Products

Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopses: Open Sky: Portrait of a Pavilion in Venice  | Luben and Elena

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.