NFB pushes Canadian artists in edgy direction

Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival 2012

Over nearly 75 years, the National Film Board of Canada has established one of the world’s most enviable track records among animation support orgs, earning two Oscar noms in the shorts category for 2011. True to its mandate, the NFB has always embraced a wide variety of boundary-pushing artists and techniques.

“We have the only pinscreen still working in the world, and Michele Lemieux has really pushed the technique with her new film ‘Grand ailleurs, petit ici’ (Here and the Great Elsewhere),” says Monique Simard, director general of NFB’s French Program. She notes that the NFB is also championing new approaches such as the integration of animation with non-linear interactive work, and cites Vincent Morisset’s Webby-winning interactive film “BLA BLA,” which just enjoyed a successful month-long live interactive presentation in Paris. Simard says the NFB is now teaming up with Morisset to create a game.

Cindi Witten, Simard’s counterpart on the NFB’s English-speaking side, reports that her division has been equally busy with several very different shorts in production, including “If I Was God” with Cordell Barker (Oscar nommed for “Strange Invaders” and “The Cat Came Back”) and “Subconscious Password” with Oscar-winner Chris Landreth (“Ryan”).

“The former is a mixed-media film in 3D about a 12-year-old speculating on what he would do if he was God, and fits right in our tradition of championing unusual, challenging films,” she says.

Other projects include “Me and My Moulton” from Oscar winner Torill Kove (“The Danish Poet”), “The End of Pinky” by rising star Claire Blanchet and “The Next Day,” an interactive documentary about suicide.

Though several NFB-backed artists still practice traditional animation styles, the org aggressively encourages Canadian artists to experiment with new techniques. According to Simard, “Live interaction really represents the direction we’re going in.”

Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival 2012
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