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NFB aims to revitalize the documentary short with its new “five shorts” project
Saguenay, March 13, 2014 – Starting this year, documentary shorts made in Quebec will receive pride of place at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), as a new project sets out to reboot the genre by harnessing the talents of regional filmmakers. For the first edition, the NFB joins forces with Spirafilm, a Quebec City-based indie film co-op. The mandate? Produce five films ranging from five to eight minutes in length and created by five experienced filmmakers based in various regions of Quebec. Every year, the NFB will partner with a different artist-run or production centre. The chosen candidate for 2015 is La bande Sonimage, a Chicoutimi organization that supports video creation in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region.
“The NFB is eager to inject new life into the documentary short and to turn it into a creative lab at the core of a broader reflection on the genre. The ‘five shorts project' directly involves regional Quebec artist-run centres, which are best able to mobilize local creative resources. For the program's first edition, we are excited to partner with Spirafilm, a co-operative directed by Catherine Benoit and Claudine Thériault that fully embodies the spirit we want to project,” said Colette Loumède, Acting Director General of the NFB's French Program.
“We are very pleased to be partnering with the NFB, whose outlook aligns with what has been our focus since 2002: namely, collective creation. These are promising initiatives through which filmmakers can hone their practice and experiment with new techniques. Bringing together filmmakers and eastern Quebec communities is also a strong part of Spirafilm's mission,” said Catherine Benoit, the co-op's executive director.
The 2014 “five shorts” project
The chosen filmmakers were selected jointly by the NFB and Spirafilm. Their films will benefit from the collective synergy and be driven by an overall process of reflection, yet remain very much individual works. The project aims to question the classic documentary narrative form while pushing the film grammar typically associated with the genre. In this sense, the focus will be on evocation rather than explanation, on developing the soundscape and on the visual language of film. In terms of distribution, each work—shot entirely in digital (4K) format—will meet the need to explore the relevance of the documentary short on new platforms.
Partnership with regional artist-run centres
Regional artist-run centres are generally where artistic practice and production converge; as such, they are vital hubs of creativity. They also have extensive production expertise and bring artists from several disciplines together under one roof. Their collaborative spirit is, in fact, the model for the NFB's “five shorts” project.
The five filmmakers
Jeremy Peter Allen – Quebec City
Filmmaker Jeremy Peter Allen began his career in fiction film. To date he has directed one feature ( Manners of Dying) along with a number of shorts (including Requiem contre un plafond, Power Showers and L'est) that have screened internationally. In the past three years, his interests have turned toward the theatre. His staging of the play Frozen by Bryony Lavery opened in March 2014 at Quebec City's Théâtre de la Bordée.
Nadine Beaudet – Portneuf
Côte-Nord native Nadine Beaudet is a staunch advocate of the various regions of Quebec, and her approach to film is invested with a sense of belonging, identity and the imaginary. Her science background—she holds a master's degree in applied science (land-use planning)—prompted her to work on the films Avant le jour and Le père de Gracile. She is a co-founder of the production house Les vues du fleuve. Her first feature, Le cosaque et la gitane, took the Pierre-et-Yolande-Perrault award at the Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois in 2013.
John Blouin – Quebec City
While exploring the relationship between writing and film during his studies, John Blouin became an NFB projectionist. During this period, he founded Cabina Obscura and created live “cine-shows” combining 16 and 35mm film, video projections, shadows and music. The show was staged in a number of cities and festivals from Montreal to Beijing. Turning his talents toward a different aspect of projection, he then made the short films Change Over, Filmstripe and Gate, a trilogy about the death of a movie theatre. His latest work is El Paysan, a documentary short on the liquidation of a farm. John is currently editing Armand par Vaillancourt, a feature film about the Quebec sculptor. He also oversees programming at Antitube.
Martin Bureau – Quebec City
Through painting, video installation and documentary, Martin Bureau engages in a critique of various geopolitical notions. In 2009, he co-directed the documentary Une tente sur Mars, nominated for a Jutra Award as well as the award for best documentary at the Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois (RVCQ). In 2013, he co-directed his second documentary feature, Playa Coloniale, which received a jury special mention at the Vues sur mer festival in Gaspé.
Nicolas Lévesque – Chicoutimi
A native of Roberval, Nicolas Lévesque is a photographer and filmmaker. After studying photography, the visual arts and film, he co-founded the photographers' association KAHEM. His directorial credits include the documentary short Lévesque et fils, maraîcher(s) (2008), which screened in some 12 festivals across Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia; and Le Projet Racine(s) (2010), made as part of the Saguenay-based Festival Regard sur le court métrage, which took first prize in the “Portrait” category of the Grands prix du journalisme indépendant. His latest documentary, In Guns We Trust (2013), screened as part of the SODEC and Not Short of Talent programs at the Cannes Film Festival as well as at the Toronto International Film Festival before being selected for TIFF's Top Ten Shorts in 2014.
Founded in 1977, the Quebec City-based Spirafilm co-operative (spirafilm.com) is dedicated to independent film. Through its equipment rental program, Spirafilm supports some 30 works per year. In addition to numerous shorts, the co-op has supported a number of features, including Vital Signs, West of Pluto and Sarah Prefers to Run. Spirafilm offers workshops and master classes, networking activities and screening events that contribute to the dynamism and development of the Quebec City film community.
About the NFB
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) creates groundbreaking interactive works, social-issue documentaries and auteur animation. The NFB has produced over 13,000 productions and won over 5,000 awards, including 4 Canadian Screen Awards, 7 Webbys, 12 Oscars and more than 90 Genies. To access acclaimed NFB content, visit NFB.ca or download its apps for smartphones, tablets and connected TV.
Lily Robert, Director, Corporate Communications, NFB
Tel.: 514-283-3838 / Cell: 514-296-8261 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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