NFB showcases animated shorts at Vancouver fest

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National Film Board of Canada

National Film Board of Canada

The National Film Board of Canada will show­case four ani­mated shorts at the 31st annual Van­cou­ver Inter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, to be held from Sep­tem­ber 27 to Octo­ber 12.

The NFB’s Stu­dio D and its founder, Kath­leen Shan­non (1935–1998) are cel­e­brated in the hand-painted Assem­bly by Van­cou­ver film­maker and mixed-media artist Jenn Strom. The now defunct Stu­dio D, which has won more Oscars than any other NFB stu­dio to date, enabled female film­mak­ers to tackle specif­i­cally female sub­ject mat­ter in an envi­ron­ment that had pre­vi­ously not always wel­comed such efforts.

Writ­ten, directed and edited by Strom, Assem­bly (4 min. 25 sec.) was pro­duced by Tracey Friesen.

A flatbed edit­ing table is snapped on. A woman’s hands reach in and out of the frame, cut­ting and edit­ing a reel of film. She splices, scrubs, rewinds and rolls the sound and images. Frag­ments of ani­mated archival footage flash across the screen: women walk­ing in chains, protest­ing with plac­ards, speak­ing at podi­ums. We hear bursts of words and the per­cus­sive whir and click of the Steen­beck — until a “mes­sage” is finally revealed. Inspired by Stu­dio D film­mak­ers and ded­i­cated to Shannon’s mem­ory, Assem­bly is an exper­i­men­tal short fea­tur­ing a rhyth­mic sound­scape and paint-on-glass animation.

Three ani­mated gems explor­ing themes of self-discovery round out the NFB short films screen­ing at VIFF.

Edmond Was a Don­key (15 min. 3 sec.), writ­ten, directed and edited by France’s Franck Dion, was pro­duced by Dion and Richard Van Den Boom (Papy3D Pro­duc­tions) and Julie Roy (NFB). This year, it won the Bravo!Fact Award for Best Cana­dian Short at the World­wide Short Film Fes­ti­val and the Spe­cial Jury Award at the Annecy Inter­na­tional Ani­ma­tion Film Festival.

Edmond is not like every­body else. When his co-workers jok­ingly crown him with a pair of don­key ears, he sud­denly dis­cov­ers his true nature. And while Edmond rev­els in his new iden­tity, it cre­ates an ever-widening gap between him and oth­ers. With great empa­thy, direc­tor Dion tells the touch­ing story of an out­sider, illus­trat­ing the chal­lenges of being true to your­self in a world filled with con­formists. Since he can’t bring him­self to be what oth­ers expect, Edmond makes the only pos­si­ble choice.

Hal­i­fax, Nova Scotia-based writer-director Andrea Dorf­man has a way with words. In Big Mouth (8 min. 16 sec.), she explores the expe­ri­ences of a bright-minded, quick-witted child, ques­tion­ing what it means to speak the truth, and com­ing to under­stand how our dif­fer­ences make us unique. Dorfman’s whim­si­cal sto­ry­telling is all heart.

Hand-drawn pup­pets dance, skip and cart­wheel across the screen as one lit­tle girl dis­cov­ers the com­plex­ity of words and that what we say may not be what we mean. Trudy, equal parts truth­ful and rude, has an unfil­tered and deeply curi­ous way of look­ing at the world. She hon­estly points out what she sees — be it a big mole or a big belly! The result is an impres­sive accu­mu­la­tion of dis­ci­pli­nary notes from her teacher. Like Trudy, even­tu­ally we all learn how to read, make friends and develop a healthy rela­tion­ship with the truth. A film for any­one, young or old, who has got­ten in trou­ble for say­ing too much, Big Mouth is about one of life’s big lessons. It was pro­duced by Annette Clarke.

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About Mr. Clevland

MrClevland has been a cartoon fan since, well, infancy. He has been writing nearly that long. Opinionated, yes, but backed with a wealth of personal knowledge on the subject. You can give r. C a piece of your mind here.

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