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


Press release


Premieres March 30 in St. John's, followed by online launch March 31 at NFB.ca

Montreal, March 21, 2014 – On March 30, 1914, a series of fateful decisions began out on the ice floes off Newfoundland that would cost 78 men their lives.

One hundred and thirty-two sealers from the SS Newfoundland endured two hellish days and nights in cold, snow and freezing rain, after being ordered onto the ice to hunt. Only 54 made it back to shore alive. It was part of a tragedy at sea that came to be known as the 1914 Newfoundland Sealing Disaster, one that struck deep in the heart of Newfoundlanders.

Now, one hundred years later, a new National Film Board of Canada (NFB) animated short from Newfoundland and Labrador about the disaster entitled 54 Hours uses an innovative blend of animation techniques to bring the harrowing experiences of these men to life, as never before.

The film will have its world premiere in St. John's on March 30, 2014, at The Rooms, starting at 1:30 p.m. The 13-minute short is directed by Bruce Alcock and Paton Francis, and written by Michael Crummey. Francis, who is related to some of the men who were out on the ice during the 1914 disaster, will join Alcock and Crummey for a Q&A following the screening.

The next day, on March 31, Canadians will be able to take part in the centenary of this tragedy as 54 Hours screens free of charge at the NFB's online Screening Room, NFB.ca, and via its apps for tablets, smartphones and connected TV.

About the film

54 Hours is a vivid account of a 1914 sealing tragedy in which 132 men were stranded on the ice during a severe snowstorm off the coast of Newfoundland. Seventy-eight men froze to death on the ice pack. Men came from across Newfoundland, for work and adventure, to join the seal hunt. By 1914, the SS Newfoundland was the last of the wooden steamers in an industry dominated by steel ships. Unlike the newer ships, it couldn't break ice, nor did it have a radio. That spring, unable to reach a seal pack, 132 men aboard the Newfoundland were ordered onto the ice to hunt. Conditions grew difficult, and darkness set in. They were stranded on the ice for two unbearable nights. Survivor testimony, striking archival materials, weather visualization, inventive animation and puppetry are seamlessly blended to recreate this harrowing ordeal.

The film's NFB producers and executive producers are Annette Clarke and Michael Fukushima. 54 Hours is also the latest collaboration between the NFB and co-director Bruce Alcock, who was recently nominated for a 2014 Canadian Screen Award for Best Animated Short for his 2013 film Impromptu, and who brought the last recordings by renowned Newfoundland fiddler Emile Benoit to the screen in 2009 with Vive la rose.

About the NFB

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) produces groundbreaking animation at its studios in Montreal and at NFB centres across Canada, as well as via international co-productions with many of the world's leading auteur animators. The NFB is a leader in developing new approaches to stereoscopic 3D animation and animated content for new platforms. The NFB has created over 13,000 productions and won over 5,000 awards, including 9 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.



Pat Dillon
NFB Publicist
Cell: 514-206-1750
E-mail: p.a.dillon@nfb.ca
Twitter: @PatDoftheNFB

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