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Animation at the NFB: always on the cutting edge

June 3, 2014 – Montréal – National Film Board of Canada

This year, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is celebrating its 75th anniversary as well as the 100th anniversary of the birth of Norman McLaren, the great pioneer and founder of animation at the NFB, by offering an array of activities online and across Canada and teaming up with various partners, including the Musée de la civilisation, which designed and created the major exhibit Frame x Frame: Animated Film at the NFB. The exhibit will be shown in Quebec City from June 4, 2014 to August 23, 2015.

If the NFB has become synonymous with excellence in animation, it's due to the remarkable synergy that arises from the concentration of so much talent in one place.

Quick Facts

•    Beginnings

o    The unique hub of creativity known as the NFB Animation Studios came into being with the arrival of Norman McLaren in 1941. McLaren's first move was to hire a team of motivated young animators—Evelyn Lambart, René Jodoin, Grant Munro—who, like him, put the accent on experimentation and technical innovation. The addition of sensitive and skilled artists like Gerald Potterton, Pierre Hébert, Ryan Larkin, Co Hoedeman, John Weldon, Caroline Leaf, Jacques Drouin and Paul Driessen further bolstered production at the NFB, which quickly received acclaim around the world.

•    Awards

o    Over the years, the Film Board's animation has garnered an impressive array of awards, including seven Oscars, four Short Film Palmes d'Or at Cannes, two Golden Bears at the Berlin Festival, eight BAFTAs, and five Grand Prizes at Annecy.

•    Filmmakers from around the world

o    The expertise of the NFB's Canadian animators was also continually enhanced through contact with outstanding filmmakers from around the world. The Russian-born French national Alexandre Alexeïeff, Czech animator Bretislav Pojar, Zlatko Grgic from Croatia, Lotte Reiniger from Germany, Brits David Fine and Alison Snowden, Georges Schwizgebel from Switzerland, Regina Pessoa from Portugal, the Norwegian Pjotr Sapegin, Japan's Koji Yamamura and the Estonians Priit and Olga Pärn are among the many artists from abroad who completed at least one short film with the NFB.

•    Classics

o    Then there are the films themselves, many of which have gone on to become classics:
o    Neighbours' (1952) eloquent plea for peace has lost none of its impact, more than a half century after the film was made;
o    McLaren's vivid bird forms in Blinkity Blank (1955), engraved directly onto film stock, have amazed and inspired generations of filmmakers;
o    The cinematic wizardry deployed by Roman Kroitor and Colin Low in Universe (1960) was a source of inspiration to Stanley Kubrick;
o    McLaren's Pas de deux (1967) was widely admired for both its formal elegance and its technical virtuosity;
o    Peter Foldes' Hunger (1973) was a landmark in computer animation;
o    Co Hoedeman's The Sand Castle (1977) remains an exemplary children's animated film;
o    Eugene Fedorenko's Every Child (1980) broke new ground by addressing serious social issues without being didactic;
o    Richard Condie's The Big Snit (1985) breathed joyous new life into the cartoon;
o    When the Day Breaks (1999) by Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis pioneered the use of composite images;
o    Martine Chartrand's Black Soul (2000) offered a poetic and personal take on Black history;
o    and Chris Landreth's Ryan (2004) helped redraw the boundaries between animation and biopic.

•    Discover our homegrown talent

o    If the NFB has maintained its leadership in the field of auteur animation over the decades, it's largely thanks to its ability to continually spot, attract and train new talent form across Canada.

Today, animators like Cordell Barker, Michèle Cournoyer, Chris Hinton, Torill Kove and Patrick Doyon perpetuate the tradition of excellence initiated by McLaren and his first team, as will the filmmakers who will be creating on-site throughout the entire exhibit at the Musée de la civilisation: Francis Desharnais, Janet Perlman, Theodore Ushev, Sylvie Trouvé, Dale Hayward, Claude Cloutier and Patrick Bouchard

Promtionnal material

For downloadable hi-res images, go to <>.

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Media Relations

Pat Dillon
NFB Publicist
Cell: 514-206-1750
Twitter: @PatDoftheNFB

Lily Robert
Director, Corporate Communications, NFB
Tel.: 514-283-3838  
Cell: 514-296-8261

About the NFB

Beginning May 2, 2014, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) marks 75 years of innovation and leadership in social-issue documentaries, auteur animation, and most recently, groundbreaking interactive works. The NFB has produced over 13,000 productions and won over 5,000 awards, including 8 Webbys, 9 Canadian Screen Awards, 12 Oscars and more than 90 Genies. To access acclaimed NFB content, visit or download its apps for smartphones, tablets and connected TV.

Sleeping Betty Image from production
Directed by Claude Cloutier

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