NFB animation spotlighted at Montreal festival

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Animation by the National Film Board of Canada will be showcased at the 36th Montreal World Film Festival, which runs from August 23 to September 3.

The event will screen three NFB animated short films in their French versions, including MacPherson, by Martine Chartrand. MacPherson will be unveiled at the opening of the WFF, making its world premiere screening before the feature film, in the World Competition category.

Works by young filmmakers are also in the program. Two more NFB animated shorts, The Banquet of the Concubine (Folimage/Foliascope/NFB/Nadasdy Film), by Hefang Wei, and It’s a Dog’s Life (Folimage/NFB), by Julie Rembauville and Nicolas Bianco-Levrin, have been selected for the World Competition and Focus on World Cinema sections, respectively.

The 36th WFF selection marks the comeback of Chartrand, a seasoned filmmaker recognized for her artisanal paint-on-glass animation shot with a 35mm camera. Chartrand’s works have been widely acclaimed the world over.

Her most recent film, Black Soul, received 23 awards, including a Golden Bear in Berlin in the Short Film category (2001) and a Jutra for Best Animated Short (2002). She is back in full force this time with MacPherson, a tribute to the friendship between poet Félix Leclerc and Jamaican engineer Frank Randolph Macpherson.

In Quebec during the early 1930s, poet Félix Leclerc befriended Frank Randolph Macpherson, a Jamaican-born chemical engineer. He inspired Leclerc to write a song about the log drives; the poet entitled it “MacPherson” in honour of his friend. Somewhere between documentary and fiction, MacPherson, inspired by the famous song, depicts turning points in history and, with great sensitivity and lavish imagery, evokes the deep feelings shared by the Jamaican engineer and one of the poet’s sisters. A film brimming with exuberant, colorful images. Produced by Marcel Jean and Bertrand at the NFB.

Making its world premiere, Hefang Wei’s The Banquet of the Concubine deals with jealousy, and pays homage to calligraphy and traditional Chinese painting.

Emperor Li is giving a banquet to celebrate the beauty of Yang, his favourite concubine. However, the evening does not provide the pleasures that had been anticipated. Unsatisfied whims, suspicions of infidelity and an unbridled imagination lead Yang to bitter extremes that nothing can appease, not even the delicious lychee. An erotic animated film about jealousy, The Banquet of the Concubine recounts one of Imperial China’s most famous love stories. Produced by Pascal Le Nôtre at Foliascope, Emmanuel Bernard at Folimage and Julie Roy at the NFB.

It’s a Dog’s Life displays a whimsical cartoon-like style. Aimed at young audiences, it’ll have its North American premiere at the festival.

Fifi the dog dreams of interstellar travel and discovering planets as he does whatever it takes to make Mom, Dad and the kids happy. At mealtime, the sharp-witted pooch gets pushed around from all sides. He would give anything to be left alone in his basket with his nose buried in a newspaper article. But the family is too wrapped up in its own activities to pay attention to Fifi’s emotional state, leaving the poor dog no choice but to make the best of the situation. Produced by Jacques-Rémy Girerd and Corinne Destombes at Folimage and Roy at the NFB.

The Banquet of the Concubine and It’s a Dog’s Life are both winners of the Folimage Artist in Residence Program, in which the NFB has been participating for 10 years now.

The three films selected for the 2012 WFF demonstrate the vitality of the productive partnerships that the NFB enters into each year with renowned international institutions, such as France’s Folimage animation studio.

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Paul is an old-timer here at BCDB- his contributions go back to before the site! Paul is widely regarded as a Disney historian, and is also on staff at the Disney Museum in San Francisco. Paul is also a contributing historian for D23, the Disney Club. Paul has published several books and magazine articles on Disney history, too. You are welcome to drop Paul a line here.

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