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Three feature docs and a new mobile experience showcased at IDFA. NFB-produced and co-produced works debut at prestigious non-fiction forum.


November 8, 2019 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada

Four new works including three world premieres by documentary creators from the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) will be featured at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), taking place November 20 to December 1.

Two feature docs will be making their world premieres: Ariel Nasr’s The Forbidden Reel (Loaded Pictures/NFB) and Mira Burt-Wintonick’s Wintopia (EyeSteelFilm/NFB).

IDFA is also presenting the European premiere of Yung Chang’s feature-length This Is Not a Movie (TINAM Inc./Sutor Kolonko/NFB), as well as a 30-minute Doc Talk with the director and the film’s subject, Robert Fisk, following the November 27 screening.

Plus, there’s the world premiere of Bruce Alcock and Jeremy Mendes’ mobile experience Far Away from Far Away, written by Michael Crummey and inspired by conversations with the visionary social entrepreneur Zita Cobb. This interactive work debuts in the festival’s DocLab program with two public installations in downtown Amsterdam: a tabletop touchscreen version at the main DocLab space and a pop-up multi-screen exhibition at Centraal train station.

The Forbidden Reel (119 min.), Frontlight program, world premiere
Synopsis, biographies, images: mediaspace.nfb.ca/the-forbidden-reel

Afghan-Canadian director Ariel Nasr unearths the astonishing story that unfolded within the walls of Afghan Film, Afghanistan’s national film production institute. It was here, during the 1970s and ’80s, that an impassioned clique of filmmakers, often working across enemy lines, gave birth to a progressive auteur cinema in conditions that would confound the most seasoned western director. And it was here, in an episode worthy of a spy thriller, that a clandestine network of cinephiles conspired to protect this precious legacy from the iconoclastic fanatics who destroyed the great Buddhas of Bamiyan.

Producer of the Academy Award-nominated independent short drama Buzkashi Boys (2012), Nasr previously directed two NFB docs, Good Morning Kandahar (2008) and the Canadian Screen Award-winning The Boxing Girls of Kabul (2011), and wrote and co-created the interactive Kabul Portraits (2015) with Jeremy Mendes. The Forbidden Reel is produced by Sergeo Kirby (Loaded Pictures) and Kat Baulu (NFB Quebec and Atlantic Studio), with executive producers Sergeo Kirby and Annette Clarke (NFB Quebec and Atlantic Studio).

Wintopia (88 min.), Luminous program, world premiere
Synopsis, biographies, images: mediaspace.nfb.ca/wintopia

A box of tapes uncovered. A lifelong Utopian obsession. A daughter’s attempt to complete her father’s final film. Wintopia traces the enigmatic footsteps of renowned Montreal documentary filmmaker Peter Wintonick through the lens of his daughter, filmmaker and broadcaster Mira Burt-Wintonick, as she tries to decipher the map he has left behind. Reverberating with emotion and whimsy, the film guides us on a journey through possible worlds in pursuit of reconciliation, both between artist and family and between dreams and reality.

Wintopia is produced by Bob Moore (EyeSteelFilm) and Annette Clarke (NFB Quebec and Atlantic Studio), with Daniel Cross and Mila Aung-Thwin as executive producers for EyeSteelFilm.

This Is Not a Movie (106 min.), Frontlight program, European premiere
Synopsis, biographies, images: mediaspace.nfb.ca/this-is-not-a-movie/

For more than 40 years, Robert Fisk has reported on some of the most violent and divisive conflicts in the world. Yung Chang’s This Is Not a Movie captures Fisk in action—feet on the ground, notebook in hand, as he travels into landscapes devastated by war, ferreting out the facts and firing reports back home to reach an audience of millions. In his relentless pursuit of the facts, Fisk has attracted his share of controversy. But in an era of fake news, when journalists are dubbed “the enemies of the people,” Fisk’s resolve to document reality has become an obsessive war to speak the truth.

This Is Not a Movie had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and will be screening at DOC NYC. Yung Chang is the multi-award-winning director of Up the Yangtze (2007), China Heavyweight (2012), The Fruit Hunters (2013) and Gatekeeper (2016). This Is Not a Movie is produced by Anita Lee (NFB Ontario Studio), Allyson Luchak and Nelofer Pazira (TINAM), and Ingmar Trost (Sutor Kolonko).

Presented by Telefilm Canada and the Rogers Group of Funds, through the Theatrical Documentary Program, produced with the participation of Ontario Creates, in co-production with ZDF/Arte and VPRO, supported by Film- und Medienstiftung NRW and with the participation of Doc Society Circle, RTS Radio Télévision Suisse, the Canadian Film or Video Tax Credit, with the assistance of the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Fund.

Far Away from Far Away (25 min.), DocLab, world premiere
Synopsis, biographies, images: mediaspace.nfb.ca/faraway

Far Away from Far Away is a 25-minute mobile experience that blends elements of interactive storytelling and audio podcasts, offering users a contemporary interpretation of the transformation of Fogo Island. Based on the story of Zita Cobb and featuring the signature lyrical prose of Newfoundland writer Michael Crummey, this work designed exclusively for touch screens and smartphones uses simple, intuitive navigation to delve deep into rich storytelling.

Far Away from Far Away is the NFB’s latest project with Fogo Island in a long engagement that goes back more than a half-century to the pioneering participatory film project Challenge for Change. Led by creative directors Bruce Alcock and Jeremy Mendes, Far Away from Far Away is produced and executive produced by Annette Clarke (NFB Quebec and Atlantic Studio) and Robert McLaughlin (NFB Digital Studio).


Related Products

Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopses: Far Away from Far Away | The Forbidden Reel | This Is Not a Movie | Wintopia

Associated Links

International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam
Loaded Pictures
Sutor Kolonko
Theatrical Documentary Program
Ontario Creates
Doc Society Circle
RTS Radio Télévision Suisse
Canadian Film or Video Tax Credit
Hot Docs Ted Rogers Fund

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.