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Robin McKenna
2020 | 6 min 38

Selections and Awards

  • Honourable Mention of the Canadian Film Institute - Best Canadian AnimationOttawa International Animation Festival, Ottawa, Canada (2020)

  • Official Selection Bucheon International Animation Festival, South Korea (2020)

  • Official Selection St. John's International Women's Film Festival, Canada (2020)

  • Official SelectionEdmonton International Film Festival, Canada (2020)

  • Official SelectionSeminci, Valladolid International Film Festival, Spain (2020)

  • Official Selection - National Short and Medium-Length CompetitionMontreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM), Montréal, Canada, (2020)

  • Official SelectionCINANIMA - International Animation Film Festival, Espinho, Portugal (2020)

  • Official SelectionLIAF - London International Animation Festival, London, UK (2020)

  • International Competition Tricky Women/Tricky Realities, Vienna, Austria (2021)

  • Official SelectionAspen Shortsfest, Colorado, U.S.A. (2021)

  • Nominee - Short Subject - Non-FictionYorkton Film Festival, Saskatchewan, Canada (2021)


Long Synopsis


Director's Statement from Robin Mckenna

Elise Simard on the Technical Process for Thanadoula


Promotional Materials


Robin McKenna
Writer, Director, Producer (Gaudete Films)
Photo : Darius Bashar

Robin McKenna

Robin McKenna is an award-winning director, producer and writer of creative, personal documentaries. Her feature documentary GIFT, inspired by Lewis Hyde’s classic bestseller The Gift, opened in theatres across the US and Canada in 2019 and was nominated for the DGC’s Allan King Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking. Thanadoula is her first animated documentary.

Robin grew up in Montreal and began making films for the celebrated TV series La Course destination monde. Her doc The Great War Experience won the Yorkton Film Festival’s Founder’s Award in 2007. She has directed documentary series for networks in the US and Canada, and her cinematography credits include City of Borders (Berlinale, Hot Docs 2009) and The Take (AFI Best Documentary, 2004). In 2018, she directed a 16mm short film about legendary actress Geneviève Bujold, produced by the NFB for the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards. Robin is currently completing Medicine, a feature-length documentary about ayahuasca, medicine and healing, with Dr. Gabor Maté.

Elise Simard
Art Direction

Elise Simard

Elise Simard is a filmmaker, animator and art director who combines digital techniques and analog effects in her experimental approach to movement and form. Her organic compositing uses a mix of textures, cut-outs and light to evoke mysterious dreamscapes and enigmatic tableaux that seem to exist on the edge of consciousness, hinting at a deeper level of awareness and meaning beyond words. Her work is the study of emotion, shifting time and character complexity. Elise has contributed visual signatures for several documentary features and animated shorts. In 2012, she directed My Little Underground at the National Film Board of Canada, where she often participates in projects and research. Her filmography includes the animated short Breakfast (2013), produced while in residency at the Aberystwyth Art Centre in Wales, Opening Hours (2015), an occult fantasy centred around Jarry Park in Montreal, and Beautiful Like Elsewhere (2017) an animated science fiction short that unfolds in a home for elderly women. The co-founder of the Astroplastique animation collective, Elise seeks to initiate new and exciting collaborative production models. She is currently a part-time teacher at Concordia University in Montreal.


Jelena Popović
Producer (NFB)
Photo : Carrier Haber

Jelena Popović

Producer at the NFB Animation Studio since January 2014, Jelena forged her skills as production manager and associate producer on conventional, interactive and hybrid documentary and animation films. She directed and co-wrote the documentary The Knights of Orlando (2007) and edited Patrick Doyon’s Oscar-nominated short Sunday, as well as three editions of NFB’s acclaimed Hothouse program. She co-produced with Marcy Page Theodore Ushev’s Blood Manifesto (Prix Créativité, FNC 2015), Sheldon Cohen’s My Heart Attack, (Best Animated Short, Cleveland Int’l Fest) and Munro Ferguson’s Minotaur VR. With Maral Mohammadian, she co-produced Naked Island, a series of public service alerts by some of the top Canadian animators exposing the dark underbelly of modern times. Her latest releases are Hedgehog’s Home, a stop-motion fable about cherishing one’s home directed by Eva Cvijanović and co-produced by Vanja Andrijević (Bonobostudio, Croatia), which won over 30 prizes including Special Mention at Berlinale and Prix Jeune public in Annecy, and Manivald, a gender-ambiguous tale about the boomerang generation by Chintis Lundgren, a coproduction with Estonia and Croatia selected at Sundance, SXSW, Annecy and awarded at OIAF, LIAF, NYSFF, Aspen, Denver, Manchester etc.

Michael Fukushima
Executive Producer

Michael Fukushima

Michael Fukushima has been making films since 1984. He joined the NFB in 1990 to direct the animated documentary Minoru: Memory of Exile (1992), winner of the Hot Docs Best Short Documentary award. Michael became an NFB animation producer in 1997, co-founding the NFB’s flagship emerging filmmaker program, Hothouse, in 2002 and was appointed executive producer of the NFB’s fabled Animation Studio in 2013.

Some notable films in his filmography include Genie Award winner cNote (2004), by Chris Hinton; Shira Avni’s animated documentary Tying Your Own Shoes (2009), which won the Golden Dove at DOK Leipzig and the prestigious NHK Japan Prize; Muybridge’s Strings (2011), by Oscar-nominated Japanese filmmaker Koji Yamamura; Oscar-nominated films Dimanche (2011), by Patrick Doyon, and Me and My Moulton (2014), by Torill Kove; and, most recently, Cordell Barker’s If I Was God… and Ann Marie Fleming’s Window Horses. Michael now mostly produces the producers and offers up sagacity, but he continues to keep his hand in—this year, on the first short film in two decades by Oscar winners Alison Snowden and David Fine, and on Oscar winner Torill Kove’s new film, Threads.


Gaudete Films and
The National Film Board of Canada

for Annie Eskenazy
Aug 9, 1961 – July 14, 2007

written and directed by
Robin McKenna

with the participation of
Natalie Eskenazy
Dr. Gabor Maté

art direction and compositing
Elise Simard

rotoscopy and animation
Sharron Mirsky

visual development, animatic and digital backgrounds
Daniel Gies

sound design
Olivier Calvert

original music
Rebecca Foon
© 2019 Gaudete Films & National Film Board of Canada (SOCAN)

Daniel Gies

Rebecca Foon

Snow Day for Lhasa
performed by Esmerine & Patrick Watson
written and composed by Bruce Cawdron, Rebecca Foon, Patrick Watson, Andrew Barr, Sarah Pagé, Robbie Kuster, Mikhail Stein
licensed courtesy of Constellation Records
published by Secret City Publishing Inc. and Third Side Music Inc.

music recording and mix (Sky Barn)
Pietro Amato

re-recording (NFB)
Isabelle Lussier

Sharron Mirsky
Elise Simard

additional editing
Terra Long
Nicolas Renaud

Mark Morgenstern
Mark O’Fearghaíl

technical director
Eloi Champagne

online editing
Serge Verreault

titles and credits
Mélanie Bouchard

technical coordination
Randall Finnerty
Luc Binette
Maud Chayer

studio administrator
Rosalina Di Sario

senior production coordinator
Dominique Forget

studio coordinators
Faisal Moula
Barry Ahmad

marketing manager
Melissa Wheeler

marketing coordinator
Michelle Rozon

Jennifer Mair

archival photos and footage
courtesy of the Eskenazy family

Vancouver Downtown Eastside footage
from “The Jungle Prescription”
courtesy of Gaudete Films

produced with a grant awarded by
bravoFACT (Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent)
A Division of Bell Media Inc.

completed with the support of
RiverStyx Foundation


Women Make Movies Production Assistance Program

Robin McKenna (Gaudete Films)
Jelena Popović (NFB)

executive producer
Michael Fukushima (NFB)


produced by Gaudete Films and the National Film Board of Canada

© 2020


  • About Gaudete Films

    Gaudete Films is a Toronto-based production company specializing in artful, creative documentary films. Its most recent release is GIFT, a feature-length documentary directed by Robin McKenna, inspired by Lewis Hyde’s classic bestseller The Gift – which opened in theatres across the US and Canada in 2019. Currently in post-production is Medicine, a feature-length documentary about ayahuasca, medicine and healing, with Dr. Gabor Maté.

  • About the NFB

    The NFB is Canada’s public producer and distributor of award-winning documentaries, auteur animation, interactive stories and participatory experiences, working with talented creators across the country. The NFB is taking action to combat systemic racism and become a more open and diverse organization, while working to strengthen Indigenous-led production and gender equity in film and digital media. NFB productions have won more than 7,000 awards, including 12 Oscars. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.

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