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

Nine NFB documentaries featured at Hot Docs 2016.

Press release

2016/03/22

March 22, 2016 – Toronto – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

On the heels of a landmark commitment by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) to gender equity in film production, the wealth of talent and diversity in women’s documentary filmmaking at the NFB takes centre stage at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, with four premieres of feature documentaries as well as four classic docs.

The NFB selection at Hot Docs also boasts a newly acquired independent work and a preview of the NFB’s upcoming virtual reality work Cardboard Crash, for a total of 10 productions.

Making its world premiere as part of the festival’s Big Ideas program is The Apology, a feature documentary debut by Toronto-based director Tiffany Hsiung that follows the personal journeys of three survivors of WWII sexual slavery in Japanese-occupied Asia. Won-ok Gil, a survivor and activist, and Mee-hyang Yoon, of the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Sexual Slavery by Japan, will both take part in a panel discussion following the screening.

Canadian Spectrum, the festival’s official competition for Canadian productions, is hosting three premieres of NFB feature-length documentaries, including the world premieres of Iqaluit-based filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril’s Angry Inuk (NFB/ Unikkaat Studios/ EyeSteelFilm), challenging well-established perceptions that have empowered anti-sealing activism, and Montreal-born, Nairobi-based filmmaker/journalist Anjali Nayar’s Gun Runners, the story of two North Kenyan warriors who’ve traded in their rifles to become professional marathoners. Making its Canadian premiere in Canadian Spectrum is Montrealer Zaynê Akyol’s Gulîstan, Land of Roses ( Périphéria/ Mîtosfilm/NFB), an up-close look at Kurdish women fighters waging war on ISIS.

Hot Docs’ Redux program, featuring acclaimed films from past years, screens Alanis Obomsawin’s 1984 film Incident at Restigouche, in which this master documentarian delves into the history behind two Quebec Provincial Police raids on the Restigouche Reserve in June 1981. Obomsawin, whose legendary NFB career is about to enter its 50th year, puts justice and government relations with First Nations on trial in this landmark documentary.

Hot Docs’ Focus On program will pay tribute to award-winning producer and director Rosie Dransfeld with a retrospective that includes three NFB films: Beaverman (2002), The Dogwalker (2007), and Who Cares (2012), a powerful cinema vérité look at women caught in a cycle of addiction, violence and prostitution in Edmonton’s sex trade. The NFB is currently co-producing Dransfeld’s next documentary, Memento Mori.  

Completing the NFB film selection at Hot Docs is Zimbelism, a Studio Shoot/ Bunbury Films co-produced documentary about the work of humanist photographer George S. Zimbel, distributed by the NFB. Directed by Jean-Francois Gratton and George’s son, Matt Zimbel, this 90-minute film has its Toronto premiere in Artscapes, a dedicated celebration of the arts, creativity, music and pop culture.

The festival’s DocX section is featuring the Canadian preview of the upcoming NFB virtual reality experience Cardboard Crash, created by Vincent McCurley and the NFB’s Digital Studio in Vancouver. In a world of AI and self-driving cars, who determines the ethics algorithm to handle emergency situations? In Cardboard Crash, the user is slowed down to “bullet time,” becoming the computer, and forced to confront a hard decision where there is plenty of data, but no easy answer. Produced and executive produced by Loc Dao, Cardboard Crash was showcased earlier this year in the New Frontier section of the Sundance Film Festival.

Quick Facts

New feature-length documentaries

  • The Apology is a stunning feature documentary debut by Toronto-based director Tiffany Hsiung. Produced by the NFB’s Anita Lee, it follows the personal journeys of three former “comfort women” who were among the 200,000 girls and young women kidnapped and forced into military sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. After decades of living in silence and shame, they know that time is running out to give a first-hand account of the truth and ensure that this horrific chapter of history is not forgotten.
  • Hsiung is one of five filmmakers invited by Hot Docs to direct a short film that will be shown before festival screenings: a 45-second video that will be shot during her world premiere and edited that very evening. Hsiung will also be taking part in a panel discussion entitled “My First Docs” on May 4. 
  • In her feature documentary Angry Inuk, filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril challenges some of the decisions and well-established perceptions that have empowered anti-sealing activism. She and a young tech-savvy generation of Inuit are stepping out of their comfort zone to create a new narrative: one that confronts animal activists and gives a voice to Inuit people. Their task, as they see it, is to convince rights groups to acknowledge that the sealskin market is an important facet of the Inuit way of life, and to make room for Inuit perspectives in animal and environmental activism. Angry Inuk is produced by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril (Unikkaat Studios) and Bonnie Thompson (NFB), in association with EyeSteelFilm.
  • Directed by Anjali Nayar, Gun Runners is the story of Julius Arile and Robert Matanda, who for years thrived among the bands of warriors terrorizing the North Kenyan countryside: stealing cattle, raiding and running from the police. So when both suddenly disappear from the bush, many assume they’re dead or have been arrested. Instead, they’ve traded in their rifles for sneakers—in the hopes of making it big as professional marathon runners. Years of fleeing from the police have prepared the men for running marathon distances, but do they have what it takes to overcome the corruption, mistrust and jealousy that threaten to derail their careers? Gun Runners is produced for the NFB by Annette Clarke and Kat Baulu.
  • Gulîstan, Land of Roses ( Gulîstan, Terre de roses) follows the female fighters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as they battle for a more just democracy in the Middle East. These women are the revolutionary future of a people and the hidden face of a highly mediatized war: the female, feminist face in the war against ISIS, united by a common vision of freedom. As fighting intensifies, filmmaker Zaynê Akyol follows the highly regimented lives of these women, who share with us their intimate thoughts and dreams. Produced by Sarah Mannering, Fanny Drew, Yanick Létourneau, Mehmet Aktaş, Nathalie Cloutier and Denis McCready, Gulîstan, Land of Roses is a Canada/Germany co-production, produced by Périphéria in co-production with Mîtosfilm and the NFB.
  • The film will have its world premiere at Visions du Réel (April 15–23) in Nyon, Switzerland. Akyol is the recipient of the René Malo Chair/NFB Award for most promising documentary filmmaker at the Université du Québec à Montréal.
  • Zimbelism is a feature documentary about the work of humanist photographer George S. Zimbel, one of the last working elders of street photography. A 70-year photographic voyage through the back half of the 20th century framed with presidents, farmers, prime ministers, railroad engineers, movie stars and children, the film offers an honest and touching view of the human experience. A wonderful storyteller, Zimbel tells tales from the darkroom about his shoots with JFK, Marilyn Monroe, Harry Truman, and the real Mad Men of Madison Avenue, as well as a David-and-Goliath rights battle with his beloved New York Times.

Micro-meetings

  • Monday, May 2, 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.: NFB ARCHIVES presents a conversation with experts in their field about using archival footage in storytelling. Hear from experienced filmmakers about their creative choices, a technical wizard on blending multiple media formats, and a visual researcher and producer on why it makes good business sense to use archival footage. Moderated by Mia Desroches, Director of Distribution at the NFB.

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Associated Links

NFB press release - Landmark commitment
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival
Unikkaat Studios
EyeSteelFilm
Périphéria
Mîtosfilm
Studio Shoot
Bunbury Films

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Media Relations

For the NFB
Jennifer Mair
NFB Publicist
Tel.: 416-954-2045
Cell: 416-436-0105
E-mail:  j.mair@nfb.ca
Twitter: @NFB_Jennifer

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

For Zimbelism
Frederic Bohbot
Bunbury Films Inc.
Tel.: 514-667-6835
Cell: 514-967-4321
E-mail: fb@bunburyfilms.com   

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

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 14 Canadian Screen Awards, 11 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.