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The NFB at the FNC 2019. Four shorts in the official competition, including the Quebec premiere of The Physics of Sorrow by Theodore Ushev, plus presentations on current projects using AI.


September 26, 2019 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) returns to the Festival du nouveau cinéma (FNC) with four shorts in the official competition, including two animated films making their Quebec premiere: The Physics of Sorrow by Theodore Ushev, which just won honourable mention at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and Shannon Amen by Chris Dainty. The animated film No Objects (Sans objets) by Moïa Jobin-Paré, and the documentary Gun Killers by Jason Young, making its Quebec premiere, are also in the competition lineup. The festival’s FNC Explore section, focusing on new storytelling forms, will present the augmented-reality experience East of the Rockies by Joy Kogawa and Jam3 (Jam3/NFB), in addition to offering a range of activities for film industry and media professionals during the FNC Forum. For the occasion, the NFB conceived and co-programmed with the Partenariat du Quartier des spectacles an afternoon of discussion on the challenges of creation with artificial intelligence (AI), where three co-produced projects will be presented: Chomsky vs Chomsky by Sandra Rodriguez, L’éclat du rire by Étienne Paquette, Mélanie Crespin and Muriel de Zangroniz, and Marrow by Shirin Anlen. The groundbreaking work A Scream from Silence (Mourir à tue-tête) by Anne Claire Poirier will be screened in the Feminism and Cinema: A Tribute to the Pioneers section. The FNC runs from October 9–20, 2019.

Nouveaux Alchimistes national competition

The Physics of Sorrow (Physique de la tristesse) by Theodore Ushev (27 min) – Quebec premiere
Produced at the NFB by Marc Bertrand

  • The first fully animated film made using the encaustic-painting technique, Theodore Ushev’s The Physics of Sorrow was inspired by the novel by Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov.
  • The FNC is presenting the English-language version of the short film, narrated by Rossif Sutherland, with a special guest-voice appearance by Donald Sutherland.
  • The Physics of Sorrow is a potent portrait of a dislocated generation struggling to find home as they shift through ever-changing personal and geographic landscapes.

Shannon Amen by Chris Dainty (15 min) – Quebec premiere
Produced at the NFB by Maral Mohammadian

  • Shannon Amen unearths the frantic, passionate and pained expressions of a young woman as she struggles to reconcile her sexual identity with her religious faith.
  • Written and directed by Shannon Jamieson’s friend, Chris Dainty, the film is a multi-layered memoir that fuses archival footage and an array of animation techniques, including “icemation,” a term coined by Dainty to describe an animation technique using full-scale ice sculptures.
  • The film, which will be presented in its original English version at the FNC, had its world premiere at the Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) 2019.

Sans objets by Moïa Jobin-Paré (6 min 34 s)
Produced at the NFB by Marc Bertrand

  • Combining hands-on techniques with digital and analogue technologies, the film transfigures forms of expression, turning photographs into etchings and sound into motion. An ode to touch in which every gesture is magnified and the image can be heard, it offers both a bracing and contemplative meditation on the tactile world.
  • Selected for screening at several national and international festivals, the film received a Special Mention at Animafest Zagreb 2019.

Short Film national competition

Gun Killers by Jason Young (10 min 40 s) – Quebec premiere
Produced at the NFB by Rohan Fernando

  • As the tranquil light of a typical day of harvesting vegetables descends into night, we experience the secret work that retired blacksmiths John and Nancy Little are sometimes called upon to undertake for the RCMP.
  • Screened at the FNC in its original English version, the film was selected for the Atlantic International Film Festival and the Calgary International Film Festival.

FNC Explore

East of the Rockies (À l’est des Rocheuses) by Joy Kogawa and Jam3
Produced by Jam3 (Jason Legge) and the NFB (Robert McLaughlin)

  • East of the Rockies is an interactive narrative AR experience written by acclaimed Canadian author Joy Kogawa and told from the perspective of Yuki, a 17-year-old girl forced from her home and made to live in British Columbia’s Slocan Japanese internment camp during the Second World War.
  • Presented in English and French as part of the FNC Explore’s Mobile Experiences at the Chaufferie de l’agora du Cœur des sciences de l’UQAM, October 11–20, from noon to 8 p.m.

FNC Explore activity at the FNC Forum

Demystifying artificial intelligence
Friday, October 18, 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Agora Hydro-Québec de l’UQAM
In collaboration with the NFB and the Partenariat du Quartier des spectacles

Experts and artists working at the NFB will take part in this discussion on AI in art and present these projects:

  • Marie-Pier Gauthier and Martin Viau will discuss the Chomsky vs Chomsky project by Sandra Rodriguez, guest researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (CMS/W, Open Doc Lab). Chomsky vs Chomsky, which has been presented at conferences, explores the promises, pitfalls and future of artificial intelligence (AI).
  • Author and multimedia artist Étienne Paquette will discuss L’éclat du rire, created with multidisciplinary designer and scenographer Mélanie Crespin and clown and street-performance creator Muriel de Zangroniz. The project won the Art & AI: Artistic Residency in Research/Creation and Artificial Intelligence established by the NFB, the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership, Element AI and the Conseil des arts de Montréal.
  • Shirin Anlen, a narrative technologist and research fellow at the MIT Open Documentary Lab, will present her project Marrow, a Raycaster and Atlas V production, co-produced with the NFB and in association with Runway ML, with the support of the MIT Open Documentary Lab and IDFA DocLab. The Marrow prologue was presented at IDFA

The NFB is thus continuing its valuable collaboration with leading partners in their respective fields and enhancing its relations with artists by supporting them as they explore the latest technologies to define new narratives and push the boundaries of creativity.

Feminism and Cinema: A Tribute to the Pioneers

A Scream from Silence (Mourir à tue-tête) by Anne Claire Poirier (NFB, 1979, 1 h 36 min), a groundbreaking and disturbing film about rape, will be screened during a feminist-cinema retrospective on Sunday, October 20, at 5 p.m. at the Cinémathèque québécoise.


Related Products

Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopses: East of the Rockies | Gun Killers | No Objects | The Physics of Sorrow | Shannon Amen

Associated Links

Festival du nouveau cinéma
Joy Kogawa
FNC Forum
Partenariat du Quartier des spectacles
Open Doc Lab
Element AI
Conseil des arts de Montréal
Atlas V
Runway ML

Media Relations

  • Nadine Viau
    NFB Publicist – Montreal
    C.: 514-458-9745

  • 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.