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Vancouver filmmakers on display with B.C. premiere of Oscar winners Alison Snowden and David Fine’s Animal Behaviour and hometown debut of Jay Cardinal Villeneuve’s Holy Angels. Seven NFB documentary and animated films showcased at the 2018 Vancouver International Film Festival.


Images provided by the NFB

September 5, 2018 – Vancouver – National Film Board of Canada

Works from Vancouver-based filmmakers headline a rich National Film Board of Canada (NFB) selection at the Vancouver International Film Festival (September 27–October 12), as Oscar winners Alison Snowden and David Fine’s Animal Behaviour and Jay Cardinal Villeneuve’s Holy Angels join a seven-film NFB lineup.

Two NFB feature docs are also making their B.C. premieres: What Walaa Wants, Christy Garland’s Hot Docs award-winning look at a young woman determined to become a policewoman in the Palestinian Security Forces; and Astra Taylor’s timely What Is Democracy?, provoking a critical dialogue about our future.

Making its B.C. premiere at VIFF 25 years after their Academy Award-winning NFB/Snowden Fine Animation/Channel 4 co-production Bob’s Birthday, Alison Snowden and David Fine’s Animal Behaviour just received the Grand Prix at Rio de Janeiro’s Anima Mundi festival.

Local filmmaker Jay Cardinal Villeneuve’s award-winning Holy Angels is featured in a Vancouver premiere: a powerful, impressionistic look at the more than 150,000 Indigenous children who were removed from their families and sent to residential school.

Also making their B.C. debuts are the NFB animated shorts Caterpillarplasty by David Barlow-Krelina, Turbine by Alex Boya and The Subject by Patrick Bouchard.

Feature-length documentaries

What Walaa Wants (89 min.), B.C. premiere
Mon., Oct. 1, 10:45 a.m., International Village 9
Wed., Oct. 3, 9:15 p.m., International Village 9

Raised in a refugee camp in the West Bank while her mother was in an Israeli prison, Walaa is determined to become one of the few women in the Palestinian Security Forces—not easy for a girl who breaks all the rules. Following Walaa from the age of 15 to 21, Toronto filmmaker Christy Garland uses an intimate POV to tell the compelling story of this defiant young girl, who navigates formidable obstacles and disproves the negative predictions from her surroundings and the world at large.

What Walaa Wants had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival and its Canadian premiere at Hot Docs, where it received the DGC Special Jury Prize for Canadian Feature Documentary.

The film is produced by Matt Code and Christy Garland (Murmur Media; Canada), Anne Köhncke (Final Cut for Real; Denmark) and Justine Pimlott (NFB; Canada). The NFB executive producer is Anita Lee.

What Is Democracy? (119 min.), B.C. premiere
Sat., Oct. 6, 9 p.m., SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
Fri., Oct. 12, 10:45 a.m., SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts

If we want to live in democracy, we must first ask what the word even means. Astra Taylor’s What Is Democracy? is an idiosyncratic, philosophical journey spanning millennia and continents: from ancient Athens’ groundbreaking experiment in self-government to capitalism’s roots in medieval Italy; from modern-day Greece grappling with financial collapse and a mounting refugee crisis to the United States reckoning with its racist past and the growing gap between rich and poor. Celebrated theorists Silvia Federici, Cornel West, Wendy Brown, and Angela Davis are joined by trauma surgeons, activists, factory workers, asylum seekers, former prime ministers and others, in a film that connects past and present, the emotional and the intellectual, the personal and the political, in order to provoke critical dialogue about our future.

What Is Democracy? is produced by Lea Marin and executive produced by Anita Lee for the NFB’s Ontario Studio in Toronto.

Short films

Animal Behaviour (14 min.), B.C. premiere
Mon., Oct. 1, 8:45 p.m., International Village 8
Mon., Oct. 8, 3 p.m., International Village 8

Dealing with what comes naturally isn’t easy, especially for animals. In Animal Behaviour, five animals—including a leech who suffers from separation anxiety and a bird with guilt issues—meet regularly to discuss their inner angst in a group therapy session led by Dr. Clement, a canine psychotherapist. This hilarious yet emotional short deals with animal issues that are not unlike our own. Should we learn and adapt, or should others just accept our true nature?

Created with digital hand-drawn animation, Animal Behaviour marks the return of Alison Snowden and David Fine to the NFB after Bob’s Birthday (1993), which inspired the acclaimed Comedy Central/Channel 4/Global TV series Bob and Margaret. Snowden and Fine had previously collaborated on two other Oscar nominees: the NFB short George and Rosemary (1987) and Snowden’s student film Second Class Mail (1984).

Animal Behaviour is produced and executive produced by Michael Fukushima for the NFB’s English-language Animation Studio in Montreal.

Holy Angels (14 min.) Vancouver premiere
Sat., Oct. 6, 1:15 p.m., International Village 9
Mon., Oct. 8, 6:15 p.m., SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts

Jay Cardinal Villeneuve’s Holy Angels powerfully recaptures Canada’s colonialist history through impressionistic images and the fragmented language of a child. In 1963, Lena Wandering Spirit was one of the more than 150,000 Indigenous children who were removed from their families and sent to residential school. Villeneuve met Lena through his work as a videographer with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and brings her recollections to vivid life through the performance of five-year-old Phoenix Alec.

Holy Angels has garnered three awards to date, including the Founder’s Award and the Indigenous Award at the Yorkton Film Festival. The film is produced by Selwyn Jacob, with Shirley Vercruysse as executive producer for the NFB’s B.C. and Yukon Studio in Vancouver.

Caterpillarplasty (5 min.), B.C. premiere
Sun., Sept. 30, 8:45 p.m., Rio Theatre
Sun., Oct. 7, 3 p.m., International Village 9

A prescient, grotesque sci-fi satire that lifts plastic surgery to another level. Set in a state-of-the-art clinic, in a world where advanced technologies have given rise to new standards of beauty and prestige, Caterpillarplasty offers its sardonic take on a social obsession with beauty that’s spiralled out of control.

Created with surgical precision by Ottawa-born filmmaker David Barlow-Krelina, Caterpillarplasty is a technical wonder of 3D animation and rendering tools, notably “subsurface scattering”—a shading technique that simulates the ways in which light interacts with skin, creating a glossy, sterile environment that’s both horrifying and hypnotic.

Recipient of a Special Mention of the Ecumenical Jury at the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, Caterpillarplasty is produced by Jelena Popović and executive produced by Michael Fukushima for the NFB’s Animation Studio in Montreal.

Turbine (8 min.), B.C. premiere
Tue., Oct. 2, 9:15 p.m., International Village 8
Tue., Oct. 9, 3:30 p.m., International Village 8

In Bulgarian-born, Montreal-based animator Alex Boya’s Turbine, a pilot crash-lands into his home. His face has been replaced by a turbine and he’s fallen in love with a ceiling fan. To save their marriage, his wife must take drastic action.

Turbine is produced by Jelena Popović and executive produced by Michael Fukushima for the NFB’s Animation Studio in Montreal.

The Subject (10 min.) B.C. premiere
Sun., Sept. 30, 8:45 p.m., International Village 8
Sun., Oct. 7, 2:45 p.m., International Village 8

The act of creating is about delving into the deepest part of one’s self. Artists engage in a process of introspection from which they never emerge unscathed—digging and searching within themselves, seeking the source of their fears and, in so doing, yearning to find liberation. In The Subject, stop-motion master Patrick Bouchard dares to place himself on centre stage, confronting his alter ego in the form of a life-size cast of his own body—beginning a physical confrontation between human and clay puppet.

The Subject is produced and executive produced by Julie Roy for the NFB’s French Animation Studio in Montreal.


Related Products

Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopsis: Animal Behaviour | Caterpillarplasty | Holy angels | The Subject | Turbine | What Is Democracy? | What Walaa Wants

Associated Links

Vancouver International Film Festival
Snowden Fine Animation
Channel 4
International Village
Murmur Media
Final Cut for Real
SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
Rio Theatre

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.