…An eclectic mix of Canadian talent shines on the big screen.
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) returns to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) (September 10–20, 2015) with a stellar line up of feature films from Mina Shum, Mark Lewis and Guy Maddin, as well as short films from award-winning animator Howie Shia, Godspeed You! Black Emperor member David Bryant and collaborator Karl Lemieux, journalist Katherine Monk, and multidisciplinary artist Caroline Monnet.
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.
Vancouver’s Mina Shum is back at the festival with her feature-length documentary directorial debut Ninth Floor, which revisits the infamous 1969 Sir George Williams Riot at Montreal’s Concordia University, a watershed moment in Canadian race relations. Hamilton, Ontario-born visual artist Mark Lewis explores the ever-changing textures of Paris, São Paulo and Toronto in Invention (Mark Lewis Studio/NFB/Soda Film + Art), an anthology woven from 14 short films.
In The Forbidden Room (Phi Films/Buffalo Gal Pictures/NFB), Winnipeg auteur Guy Maddin teams up with co-director Evan Johnson to honour classic cinema by taking us high into the air, around the world, and into dreamscapes, spinning tales of amnesia and captivity, deception and murder, skeleton women and vampire bananas. The Forbidden Room originated from the NFB-produced interactive project Seances, launching in 2016.
The Short Cuts Program features four NFB works. Toronto’s Howie Shia (Flutter) drew on events in the life of his Taiwanese grandfather to create the animated short BAM, a modern adaptation of the myth of Hercules. In Quiet Zone, Montreal filmmakers Karl Lemieux and David Bryant use elements of documentary, film essay and experimental film to take viewers deep into the world of people who suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity.
Vancouver film critic and author Katherine Monk makes her directorial debut with Rock the Box, which looks at Rhiannon Rozier’s efforts to break into the male-dominated world of DJing. And Montreal-based artist Caroline Monnet’s Mobilize explores the perpetual negotiation between the modern and the traditional by Canadian Indigenous peoples, with images culled entirely from outtakes from over 700 NFB films dating back to 1939, and a driving musical score by Tanya Tagaq.
Ninth Floor, world premiere in TIFF Docs, 81 min.
- More than four decades after the infamous Sir George Williams Riot, Ninth Floor takes audiences back to one of the most contested episodes in the nation’s history. Writer and director Mina Shum films the protagonists in locations throughout Trinidad and Montreal. In a cinematic gesture of reckoning and redemption, she listens as they set the record straight — and lay their burden down.
- Ninth Floor is written and directed by Mina Shum, produced by Selwyn Jacob and executive produced by Shirley Vercruysse for the NFB’s Pacific and Yukon Centre in Vancouver.
- Shum’s first feature, the NFB-co-produced Double Happiness (1994), premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won a Special Jury Citation for Best Canadian Feature Film and the Toronto Metro Media Prize. Shum’s second and third features—Drive, She Said (1997) and Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity (2002)—also premiered at TIFF. Her short films include Me, Mom and Mona, which won a Special Jury Citation at the 1993 Toronto Film Festival, and, most recently, I Saw You (2013).
Invention, world premiere in Wavelengths, 80 min.
- Shot over a period of two years in Paris, São Paulo and Toronto, Invention is an anthology of 14 films by Mark Lewis. From famous corners of the Louvre Museum to the modernist buildings of Oscar Niemeyer in Brazil and Mies van der Rohe in Canada, Lewis takes us on a dynamic tour of fluctuating cityscapes, capturing the texture of these places, their landmarks, and the people who inhabit their streets and buildings, with images of glass, light, reflections, concrete, spiral staircases—and paintings. An homage to the City Symphony films of the 1920s, Invention offers a searching love letter to urban spaces, art and cinema.
- Invention is a Mark Lewis Studio production in co-production with the NFB and in association with Soda Film + Art. The producers are Eve Gabereau (Soda Film + Art), Gerry Flahive and Anita Lee (NFB), with Emily Morgan as co-producer (Soda Film + Art). The executive producers are Anita Lee (NFB), Daniel Faria (Mark Lewis Studio) and Serge Le Borgne (Mark Lewis Studio).
- Mark Lewis is a leading contemporary visual artist. In 2009, he represented Canada at the Venice Biennale and his work was the subject of a retrospective at TIFF. Much of his work focuses on the technology of film and different genres that have developed over 100 years of cinema history. He has been part of museum shows at the National Gallery of Canada, MoMA (New York), BFI Southbank (London), Centre Pompidou (Paris), among others, and has shot a film in the National Gallery (London).
- Invention is his second collaboration with the NFB, following Cold Morning: Trilogy (2009), which screened in TIFF’s Future Projections program.
The Forbidden Room, Canadian premiere in Wavelengths, 128 min.
- If Canadian wunderkind Guy Maddin is Winnipeg’s own living film legend, The Forbidden Room is his ultimate epic phantasmagoria. Honouring classic cinema while electrocuting it with energy, this Russian nesting doll of a film begins with the crew of a doomed submarine chewing flapjacks in a desperate attempt to breathe the oxygen within. Suddenly, impossibly, a lost woodsman wanders into their company and tells his tale of escaping from a fearsome clan of cave dwellers. From here, Maddin takes us high into the air, around the world, and into dreamscapes, spinning tales of amnesia and captivity, deception and murder, skeleton women and vampire bananas. Playing like some glorious meeting between Italo Calvino, Sergei Eisenstein and a perverted six-year-old child, The Forbidden Room is Maddin’s grand ode to lost cinema.
- Directed by Guy Maddin and co-directed by Evan Johnson, The Forbidden Room is written by Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson and Robert Kotyk. The film is produced by Phyllis Laing, Guy Maddin, David Christensen (NFB), Phoebe Greenberg and Penny Mancuso. The executive producers are David Christensen (NFB), Niv Fichman, Jody Shapiro and François-Pierre Clavel. The Forbidden Room is a Phi Films and Buffalo Gal Pictures production in co-production with the NFB’s Northwest Centre.
- The Forbidden Room grew out of Maddin’s interactive NFB project, Seances, an immersive web experience that will resurrect and recombine lost films from the silent era. Maddin previously worked with the NFB on Night Mayor (2009), commissioned to help mark the NFB’s 75th anniversary, and his short film Nude Caboose(2006), part of the NFB’s pioneering mobile series Shorts in Motion: The Art of Seduction.
Films in Short Cuts
BAM, world premiere, 5 min 48 s.
- A modern adaptation of the myth of Hercules, BAM tells the story of a young boxer struggling to negotiate between his shy, bookish nature and a divinely violent temper. Where does this rage come from? Is it psychological or environmental―or is it something altogether more primordial?
- Shia gets help and inspiration from family, with his musical brothers—hip-hop artist Leo Shia (a.k.a. LEO37) and composer Tim Shia—co-creating the film’s soundtrack. Reflecting on the complexities of masculine identity, Shia draws from the experience of his Taiwanese grandfather, who was a top-ranking police official as well as an acclaimed calligrapher and poet.
- Howie Shia’s fifth short film with the NFB, BAM is directed by Howie Shia, with Maral Mohammadian as producer and Michael Fukushima as executive producer for the NFB’s Animation Studio.
Quiet Zone, Canadian premiere, 14 min.
- Using complex imagery and sound, the filmmakers take us deep into the world of people who suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity. Combining elements of documentary, film essay and experimental film, Quiet Zone defies genres, weaving together an unusual story in which image and sound distort reality to make the distress of these “wave refugees” palpable.
- Quiet Zone is a film by Karl Lemieux and David Bryant, produced and executive produced by Julie Roy for the NFB’s French-language Animation Studio. This is Lemieux’s second collaboration with the NFB, following Mamori (2010), and the directorial debut of David Bryant.
- Karl Lemieux’s independent film work includes directing Motion of Light (2004), Western Sunburn (2006) and Passage (2007) as well as numerous live cinema performances with avant-garde musicians. A co-founder of the Double Negative collective, he has been a collaborator with Godspeed You! Black Emperor since 2010.
- Guitarist, musician and sound designer David Bryant is a member of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and has also worked with bands Hiss Tracts and Set Fire to Flames. In 2004, he built the Pines Recording Studio, a key venue for contemporary music in Montreal, and has produced the music and sound design for the NFB animated short Madame Tutli-Putli (Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski, 2007) as well as Lemieux’sPassage.
Rock the Box, world premiere, 10 min.
- Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is the most lucrative sector of the music industry, but it’s a world dominated by men, who represent 100 per cent of the genre’s top earners. Rhiannon Rozier wanted to break into that world, but the Vancouver-raised DJ says she ran into the glass ceiling. She couldn’t make it to the next level, so she did something she never thought she would do: she posed for Playboy.
- Rock the Box is written and directed by Katherine Monk, produced by Shirley Vercruysse and Selwyn Jacob, and executive produced by Shirley Vercruysse for the NFB’s Pacific and Yukon Centre in Vancouver.
- Katherine Monk is a film critic and writer based in Vancouver. Formerly the national movie critic for Postmedia News, Monk is a regular contributor to CBC Radio, Global Television and Corus Radio and has lectured and taught film at various institutions, including McGill’s Centre for Canadian Studies, Simon Fraser University and Capilano University. She is the bestselling author of Weird Sex and Snowshoes and Other Canadian Film Phenomena—later produced into a documentary feature directed by Jill Sharpe—as well asJoni: The Creative Odyssey of Joni Mitchell. Rock the Box is her first film.
Mobilize, festival premiere, 3 min. 30 s.
- Guided expertly by those who live on the land and driven by the pulse of the natural world, Caroline Monnet’s Mobilize takes us on an exhilarating journey from the far north to the urban south. Over every landscape, in all conditions, everyday life flows with strength, skill and extreme competence. The fearless polar punk rhythms of Tanya Tagaq’s “Uja” underscore the perpetual negotiation between the modern and traditional by a people always moving forward.
- Mobilize is part of Souvenir, a series of four short works by Indigenous artists that address Aboriginal identity and representation―created entirely from outtakes of more than 700 NFB films. Souvenir was featured as an installation in Gazing Back, Looking Forward, an exhibition at the Aboriginal Pavilion in Toronto during the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.
- Mobilize is directed by Caroline Monnet, and produced and executive produced for the NFB by Anita Lee of the NFB’s Ontario Centre in Toronto.
- Algonquin filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist Caroline Monnet is a member of the ITWE Collective, based in Winnipeg and Montreal. She works in film/video, printmaking and installation, and has been exhibiting in galleries and film festivals around the world. Her short videos Ikwé and Warchild were both selected for TIFF, and her most recent short film, Gephyrophobia, was selected for Telefilm’s Not Short on Talent showcase at Cannes.