A drawing of a young boy with an oversized head, a character from BLA BLA, an interactive website produced by Vincent Morisset in 2011.

Press Releases & Media Kits

The Van Doos in Afghanistan, a revealing chronicle of the day-to-day lives of soldiers

Press release

2011/11/01


Montreal, November 1, 2011 – To mark Remembrance Day, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) will make Claude Guilmain's documentary The Van Doos in Afghanistan available online at nfb.ca/22, free of charge, for a 24-hour period starting on November 11. Shot in March 2011 during ground operations in Afghanistan, where members of the Canadian Forces Royal 22e Régiment are deployed, the film seeks to give these soldiers a voice. Their frank and sincere comments convey a complex, little-known reality. During Veterans' Week (November 7 to 11), six short vignettes from the film will be posted online as a special preview, giving the public a chance to become acquainted with a different soldier each day. During the same period, the full documentary will screen in a number of Canadian cities as well as in France. In addition, the interactive documentary Soldier Brother by Kaitlin Ann Jones will be launched online at soldierbrother.nfb.ca on November 7.

Filmed by Claude Guilmain, who was accompanied by NFB producer Jacques Turgeon, the material in The Van Doos in Afghanistan will form part of a feature documentary film slated for release in 2014, to coincide with the Royal 22e Régiment's 100th anniversary. The infantry regiment is one of the Canadian Forces' largest. Stationed primarily at CFB Valcartier near Quebec City, it is the only entirely francophone regiment in Canada, hence its French name and the nickname for its soldiers—“the Van Doos,” derived from a mispronunciation of the French word for twenty-two, vingt-deux.

For Government Film Commissioner and NFB Chairperson Tom Perlmutter, “Remembrance Day is a special time, a day to honour the courage of the military personnel who took part in the missions that have marked our history. The documentary The Van Doos in Afghanistan gives these men and women a voice, a face and a name, and also reflects the NFB's commitment to bringing Canadians together around our country's vital stories.”

About The Van Doos in Afghanistan: unfiltered comments gathered in the field

The soldiers of the Royal 22e Régiment—all of whom are French-speaking—talk simply and openly about themselves and their work between patrol missions and their activities back at the base. These images and comments constitute a rare document that conveys the impact and complexity of the issues on the ground, shedding light on a little-known reality. Director Claude Guilmain has worked with the NFB on several occasions to date, notably in 2006 for his highly personal documentary Portrait of a Perfect Stranger (NFB). In 2008, he also directed Front Lines (NFB), a tribute to Canadian combattants in the First World War that chronicles the conflict through evocative archival images and heartfelt emotions expressed in private letters.

SCREENINGS AND SPECIAL EVENTS

Available free of charge to Canadians starting November 7, exclusively at nfb.ca/22

Starting November 7, viewers can catch the following vignettes online: My Battalion and The Patrol (November 7); The Road to Mushan (November 8); Proud Infantryman (November 9); Mission Accomplished (November 10); and A Minute of Silence (November 11). The complete version of The Van Doos in Afghanistan will also be available for viewing online throughout a 24-hour period on November 11.

Screenings – The Van Doos in Afghanistan

Special screening at CFB Valcartier

On November 9, in partnership with Veterans Affairs Canada and in the presence of Minister Steven Blaney, a special screening will be held for soldiers and their families at CFB Valcartier as part of a tribute to fallen Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. The mural Portraits of Honour will be unveiled at the same time.

Free public screenings in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa

Montreal: November 9 at 7 p.m. at the NFB CineRobotheque, in French; followed by a discussion with guests.

Toronto: November 10 at 7 p.m. at the NFB Mediatheque, in French with English subtitles; followed by a discussion with guests.

Ottawa: November 11 at 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at the Canadian War Museum, in French with English subtitles; presented in collaboration with the museum.  

Screening in France

The entire documentary will screen at the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris on November 24. 

Television broadcasts

TFO, the French-language network, will broadcast the clips beginning November 7, coinciding with their launch on nfb.ca/22, and will broadcast the full-length version of The Van Doos in Afghanistan on November 11.

Soldier Brother, an interactive documentary online on November 7

In Soldier Brother—available online at soldierbrother.nfb.ca—Toronto artist Kaitlin Ann Jones contemplates a lifetime as she watches her 20-year-old brother serve in Afghanistan. Through an interactive exploration of his possessions and their shared text messages, she examines the nuances of sibling relationships, her displaced role as “big sister” in the face of what her brother is doing, the challenges of instant communication, the conflict of her own emotions, and the haunting, indelible feeling that there's no turning back. Produced by Alicia Smith and executive produced by Loc Dao and Robert McLaughlin at the NFB.


About the NFB

Canada's public producer and distributor, the National Film Board of Canada creates interactive works, social-issue documentaries, auteur animation and alternative dramas that provide the world with a unique Canadian perspective. The NFB is developing the entertainment forms of the future in groundbreaking interactive productions, while pioneering new directions in 3D stereoscopic film, community-based media, and more. It works in collaboration with emerging and established filmmakers, digital media creators and co-producers in every region of Canada, with Aboriginal and culturally diverse communities, as well as partners around the world. Since the NFB's founding in 1939, it has created over 13,000 productions and won over 5,000 awards, including 4 Webbys, 12 Oscars and more than 90 Genies. Over 2,000 NFB productions can be streamed online, at the NFB.ca Screening Room as well as via partnerships with the world's leading video portals, while the NFB's growing family of apps for smartphones, tablets and connected TV delivers the experience of cinema to Canadians everywhere.


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Media relations

Jennifer Mair, NFB Publicist           
Telephone: 416-954-2045               
Cell: 416-436-0105               
E-mail: j.mair@nfb.ca                

Lily Robert, Director, Corporate Communications, NFB
Telephone: 514-283-3838
Cell: 514-296-8261
E-mail: l.robert@nfb.ca