People

Canadian Filmmakers @ NFB

Before bouncy castles, ball rooms, wave pools, and trampoline parks, Canadian parents knew where to turn for birthday party padding: the Canadian National Film Board. Mums and Dads drove about town fetching projectors, portable screens, and well-worn film cannisters.

Birthday snacks in hand, we kids squished into neighbourhood living rooms hoping that we were in for a crackling cartoon or comedy. If saddled with a historical documentary, we could only hope for projector malfunction and premature cake.

In 2020, more than 3,000 NFB productions are free to stream online. You’ll find 21st Century Virtual Reality and popular oldies, like the 1964 I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly – sung by Burl Ives and directed by Derek Lamb.

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Animal Behaviour. 2018

Oscar winners Alison Snowden and David Fine have created this the NFB’s 75th Oscar-nominated Animated Short Film. Animal Behaviour follows Dr. Clement, a canine psychotherapist, and his five regular group therapy clients.

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The Dingles. 1988

Wild-haired Doris Dingle and her cats live an idyllic life until a merciless wind blows into town. This quirky, charming film was created by the award-winning director and animator, Les Drew, narrated by Emma Levine, and based on The Dingles – a book written by Helen Levchuk and illustrated by John Bianchi.

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That Higher Level. 2018

Did you ever play in an orchestra? If so, you might particularly enjoy watching filmmaker John Bolton’s That Higher Level. The documentary follows the National Youth Orchestra – that’s 100 musicians – as they train then embark on a 12 city tour. The NYO’s mandate is ‘to recruit the best young classical musicians from across the country and prepare them for careers as professional orchestral musicians.’

Each year, NYO Canada auditions more than 500 musicians between the ages of 16 and 28.

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Universe. 1960

Hugely influential classics on the NFB site include Roman Kroitor and Colin Low’s Universe – ‘a triumph of film art’ referenced by Stanley Kubrick as he set up about creating 2oo1: A Space Odyssey. You might recognize the Narrator’s voice – that’s Douglas Rain, later chosen by Kubrick to voice the Hal 9000 Computer in 2oo1: A Space Odyssey.

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Stories Are In Our Bones. 2019

Filmmaker Janine Windolph talks about the the title for this short film in which she, her sons and their kokum (grandmother) go fishing.

‘My mom always told me that my grandmother Caroline would say, “Stories are in our bones.” She said you can tell a lot about a person, when they pass, from the bones that are left behind. You can tell what they ate, where they got injured and even where they came from. This visual stuck with me, as many of the generations before me have now passed on, and are our ancestors. In some ways, researching my family history has been partly detective work, with what little clues get left behind.’

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Gymnasia. 2019

‘Step into the stillness of an abandoned school and enter Gymnasia, a place where the ghostly ephemera of a lost childhood await you.’

Created by Academy Award-nominated directors Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski, this award-laden stop-motion, virtual reality experience is the first collaboration between the National Film Board of Canada, the Emmy-winning Felix & Paul Studios and Clyde Henry Productions.

To get a sense of Gymnasia, here’s the trailer.

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For the full experience, you can download the Gymnasia app on the NFB site.

Gymnasia Interactive

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That’s 6 films down, at least 2994 to go. Happy NFB Exploring!

The National Film Board Website

Written by Elizabeth Newton
www.creatorsvancouver.com

Header: Image from Gymnasia Production

 

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Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton