NFB Oscar Nominations
This short film studies the works of one of Canada's greatest contemporary etchers - Newfoundland-born David Blackwood. The artist himself guides viewers through a step-by-step explanation of the etching process. Scenes of his hometown, examples of his own work and vivid tales of an old mariner recall the tragic seal hunts and a way of life that has now vanished.
This award-winning animation is a poignant interpretation of a short story by Montreal author Mordecai Richler. It makes a strong statement about how many families respond to their old and infirm members. In washes of watercolour and ink, filmmaker Caroline Leaf illustrates reactions to a dying grandmother, capturing family feelings and distilling them into harsh reality.
This feature-length Oscar®-nominated documentary focuses on Malcolm Lowry, author of one of the major novels of the 20th century, Under the Volcano. But while Lowry fought a winning battle with words, he lost his battle with alcohol. Shot on location in four countries, the film combines photographs, readings by Richard Burton from the novel and interviews with the people who loved and hated Lowry, to create a vivid portrait of the man.
This Oscar®-winning documentary presents Nadia, a 9-year-old girl with spina bifida. Her dream is to attend a regular school, even though she knows other kids will tease her. Wise for her young age, Nadia simply decides that she'll "find a way to deal with it." Despite having to overcome many obstacles, Nadia's got spunk and makes it clear she's not looking for sympathy.
This short animated film features the sandman and the creatures he sculpts out of sand. These lively creatures build a castle and celebrate the completion of their new home, only to be interrupted by an uninvited guest. Cleverly constructed with nuance, the film leaves interpretation open to the viewer. The film took home an Oscar® for Best Animated Short Film.
This feature-length documentary offers an inside look into the workings of a travelling circus. In 1976, directors Tony Ianzelo and Torben Schioler followed the various people involved with the Royal Brothers' Circus as they set up their tents and put on their show. Fascinating to watch, the film captures the 24-hour-a-day brand of magic that the circus evokes while revealing the nature of the people who run it.
In this animated short, thousands of beads are arranged and manipulated, assuming shapes of creatures both mythical and real. They continually devour, merge, and absorb one another in explosions of color.
In this Oscar®-winning animated short, Ralph's day gets off to a bad start when he dismisses his wife's orders to clear the snow from the front walk. When he comes home and finds the mailman dead on his front stairs, Ralph attempts a massive cover-up with disastrous results. One dead mailman leads to a case of mistaken identity, a runaway bride, and a very confused coroner. Life starts looking up for Ralph once he decides to stop worrying about it all.
This animated short follows an unwanted baby who is passed from house to house until he is taken in and cared for by two homeless men. The film is the Canadian contribution to an hour-long feature film celebrating UNESCO's Year of the Child (1979). It illustrates one of the ten principles of the Declaration of Children's Rights: every child is entitled to a name and a nationality. The film took home an Oscar® for Best Animated Short Film.
This Oscar®-nominated documentary short tracks the shift in the relationship of an individual to his work between the 19th century and today. Focusing on how nails are made, we first see a blacksmith laboring at his forge, shaping nails from single strands of steel rods. The scene then shifts from this peaceful setting to the roar of a 20th century nail mill, where banks of machines draw, cut, and pound the steel rods faster than the eye can follow.
This dramatic film introduces us to Tommy, a World War II veteran who rooms alone, waiting for his pension cheque to arrive, passing the time in the evenings with his cronies in the Legion Hall. Lennie can claim only a third of Tommy's years, but he prowls the same area of town, and the two have more in common than either of them realizes. Both their lives lack a sense of place and purpose. The story occurs early in November and leads up to an event that provides one of Tommy's few remaining moments of glory, the annual veterans' Remembrance Day parade.
This is the official film of the XI Commonwealth Games held in Edmonton, Canada, in August, 1978. An international sports event occurring every four years, the Games draw hundreds of athletes from the many nations of the Commonwealth. Eight athletes from four continents were selected to illustrate the nature of individual effort. They were filmed in their home countries before the Games and in competition in Edmonton.
This short animation is a zany version of the classic fairy tale, with the leading role played by a mistreated, romantic penguin, with hilarious results. Cinderella Penguin loses her magic flipper as she runs to meet her midnight deadline, but all ends well when Prince Charming finds the right webbed foot and the nasty step-family is brought to heel. A 1981 Oscar® nominee.
This historical drama features the first winter spent in Canada by a family of Irish immigrants deep in the Ottawa Valley. The year is 1830. Because the father is working in a logging camp, the mother has sole charge of the family. Sickness overtakes her, and she dies. The children are left on their own to survive. The film graphically illustrates the enormous hardships endured by the first settlers who had to cope with a climate with which they were unfamiliar. A beautiful, moving film.
This Oscar®-winning short film is comprised of a lecture given to students by outspoken nuclear critic Dr. Helen Caldicott, president of Physicians for Social Responsibility in the USA. Her message is clear: disarmament cannot be postponed. Archival footage of the bombing of Hiroshima and images of its survivors seven months after the attack heighten the urgency of her message.
This full-length drama depicts the reality of managers getting fired and the emergence of a new industry specialized in handling executive terminations. The film was made with the cooperation of the business community, which helped script some of the scenes and provided authentic locations. The central figure, D.R. "Biff" Wilson, 44, is a composite figure based on extensive conversations with fired executives.
This Oscar®-winning short film is an impressionistic record of a flamenco dance class given to senior students of the National Ballet School of Canada by two great teachers from Spain, Susana and Antonio Robledo. The film shows the beautiful young North American dancers—inspired by the flamenco rhythms and mesmerized by Susana's extraordinary energy—joyously merging with an ancient gypsy culture.
Based on a short story by Canadian author Sinclair Ross, this is a gripping drama about love, infidelity, tragedy and regret. During a terrible blizzard on the Prairies, Anne stays alone in the farmhouse while her husband John treks through the snow to aid his father. Their neighbour, Stephen, comes by to help Anne with the chores. As the evening wears on, it becomes clear that John will not return that night. Anne and Stephen spend the night together. In the morning, Anne realizes with horror the consequences of her impulsive betrayal.
This poignant and hilarious animated film perfectly captures the intersection of a domestic quarrel and a global nuclear war. An Oscar® nominee enjoyed by millions of fans, this film is a classic example of Richard Condie's off-the-wall humour.
A feature film about a group of men and women, veterans of Québec's quiet revolution of the 1960s, who are now disillusioned with love, sex and politics. With English subtitles.
This animated romantic comedy about two golden agers proves that passion is not exclusively for the young. With humour and empathy, it tells of George's affection for his female neighbour and the outcome of his decision to quit daydreaming and take action.
This hilarious Oscar®-nominated animation is based on the century-old folk song of the same name. Old Mr. Johnson makes increasingly manic attempts to rid himself of a little yellow cat that just won't stay away... Also won the 1989 Genie Award for best animated short film.
It's all about the Gospel according to St. Mark, Eau de Cologne advertising, the Brothers Karamazov, dubbing Hamlet films, the disadvantages of being born in Burkina Faso, a Roman soldier called Pantera, fascists receiving daily communion, organ transplants and Paul Newman's vinaigrette. In short, all the important things.
This animated film paints a vivid portrait of two strangers intimately linked by the shared ceilings, floors and plumbing of their apartments. When an unexpected problem arises, these comfortable connections are compromised. Wendy Tilby uses a painstaking animation process involving painting on glass and stop-action filming. Strings is a film as beautiful as it is haunting. Without words.
This animated film about the pesky blackfly is based on the song of the same title, written and sung by Canadian folk singer Wade Hemsworth, with back-up vocals by the McGarrigle sisters. It recounts Hemsworth's battles with this quintessential "critter" during a summer of surveying in Northern Ontario.
With great singleness of purpose, Sam Borenstein painted for over 40 years. Despite his obvious talent it was only near the end of his life that his work began to be known. Twenty years after the artist's death, animation filmmaker Joyce Borenstein brings her father's work to a wider audience. Using various animation techniques in this documentary, she skillfully and harmoniously integrates archival material, filmed sequences, the painting themselves, and reminiscences of friends and family, to bring Sam Borenstein's work to life.
In this animated short, the classic tale of temptation is revealed in the form of a comic opera. In a room full of wind-up toys, our hero sets a chain of events into motion that ends up disturbing both his own, and the viewer's, sense of reality. La Salla has won many awards and earned an Oscar®-nomination.
Shui-Bo Wang's feature documentary is a visual autobiography of an artist who grew up in China during the historic upheavals of the ‘60s, '70s and '80s. A rich collage of original artwork and family and archival photos presents a personal perspective on the turbulent Cultural Revolution and the years that followed. For Shui-Bo Wang and others of his generation, Tiananmen Square was the central symbol of the new China – a society to be based on equality and cooperation. This animated documentary artfully traces Shui-Bo's roots and his own life journey as he struggles to sort through ideology and arrive at truth.
In this animated short, Ruby the pig seeks affirmation in the city around her after witnessing the accidental death of a stranger… and finds it in surprising places. With deft humour and finely rendered detail, When the Day Breaks illuminates the links that connect our urban lives, while evoking the promise and fragility of a new day. Winner of over 40 prizes from around the world, the film also features singer Martha Wainwright.
This animated film comes from Oscar®-winning filmmaker Torill Kove (The Danish Poet). It's a tall tale about her grandmother's life in Oslo, Norway, during World War II. Sharp and whimsical, her story combines her grandmother's tales with historical events and fantasy, showing how a cherished anecdote can come to acquire a mythical status. King Harald of Norway said, "I love the irony of this short."
Cordell Barker strikes again with this hilarious Oscar®-nominated animated short about a new addition to the family. This film is a must-see film for parents of young children and a cautionary tale for those planning a family. Part science-fiction, part autobiography, Strange Invaders is another irrepressible comedy from the director of the much-loved classic The Cat Came Back.
This Oscar®-winning animated short from Chris Landreth is based on the life of Ryan Larkin, a Canadian animator who produced some of the most influential animated films of his time. Ryan is living every artist's worst nightmare - succumbing to addiction, panhandling on the streets to make ends meet. Through computer-generated characters, Landreth interviews his friend to shed light on his downward spiral. Some strong language. Viewer discretion is advised.
Hardwood is a personal journey by director Hubert Davis, the son of former Harlem Globetrotter Mel Davis, who explores how his father's decisions affected his life and those of his extended family. Elegantly structured into three chapters entitled "love," "recollection" and "redemption," Davis uses personal interviews, archival footage and home movies to delve into his father's past in the hope of finding a new direction for his own. At its core, Hardwood is about the power of redemption and the healing of the bonds between fathers and sons.
In this short animation film, a magnificent bird performs for the Emperor inside a glittering palace. Its plumage is a blaze of colour. A blackbird, watching enviously, strives to acquire what he so desperately covets, only to discover that a golden cage can’t compete with the open skies.
This stop-motion animated film takes viewers on an exhilarating existential journey into the fully imagined, tactile world of Madame Tutli-Putli. As she travels alone on the night train, weighed down with all her earthly possessions and the ghosts of her past, she faces both the kindness and menace of strangers. Finding herself caught up in a desperate metaphysical adventure, adrift between real and imagined worlds, Madame Tutli-Putli confronts her demons.
This film took home an Oscar® for Best Animated Short Film. When Margaret plans a celebration for her husband Bob, she underestimates the sudden impact of middle age on his mood. A witty, offbeat animated portrait of a frustrated dentist wrestling with the fundamental issues of life proves that birthdays (and surprise parties) can be very tricky indeed.
This film shows the growth of cooperatives in the Maritime provinces and how they brought new life and hope to poverty-stricken fishermen. While we glimpse many aspects of the cooperative movement in Cape Breton and all through the Maritimes, the major part of this story deals with the fishing folk (one-sixth of the Maritimes' population) and shows how, thanks to the cooperative effort, fishermen such as Willie Leblanc have come from the hungry, hopeless years of the 1920s to better times.
This Oscar®-nominated animated short is a magical tale about life as seen through the eyes of a child. In keeping with their Sunday tradition, after mass a family flocks to grandma and grandpa’s house, where the chaotic discussion soon begins to resemble a raucous gathering of crows on power lines. The local factory has shut its doors and, naturally, the adults can’t stop fretting about their money woes. On this particular grey Sunday, a young boy drops a coin on some nearby train tracks out of sheer boredom. Picking the coin up after a train has run over it, he discovers to his astonishment that an amazing transformation has taken place.
This animated short tells the story of a dapper young remittance man who is sent from England to Alberta to attempt ranching in 1909. However, his affection for badminton, bird watching and liquor leaves him little time for wrangling cattle. It soon becomes clear that nothing in his refined upbringing has prepared him for the harsh conditions of the New World. A film about the beauty of the prairie, the pangs of homesickness and the folly of living dangerously out of context.
This film won the NFB its first Oscar® and was also the first documentary to win this coveted award. It presents the strategy of the Battle of Britain, showing with penetrating clarity the relationships between the various forces made up the island's defenses. Here is the Royal Air Force in its epic battle with the Luftwaffe, the Navy in its stubborn fight against the raiders of sea and sky, the coastal defenses, the mechanized cavalry, the merchant seamen and behind them all, Britain's tough, unbending civilian army.
This short film examines the Japan that emerged at the beginning of the 1900s and was firmly established as an industrialized nation by the outbreak of World War II. Facing the greatest threat in their history, the democracies of the Pacific took careful stock of this new Japan and its strength, and erected a vast system of defence across the world's greatest ocean.
Defying distance and international boundaries, thousands of wild birds take to the skies in twice-yearly migration.
This wartime newsreel from 1942 documents the efforts of China to deal with Japanese aggression.
The cancer cell, a tiny pinpoint of life, is the target against which scientific research is levelled. Cures have been found for a succession of once invincible diseases, but cancer still presents an enigma. The film traces, by means of greatly magnified sequences, the growth and multiplication of a single fertilized cell into an adult man, and asks why, after the body has reached maturity, some outlaw cells begin a persistent and subversive growth of their own. The answer may come from any part of the world, as scientists are seen in many centers painstakingly following every clue that may lead to an eventual solution.
In this Oscar®-winning short film, Norman McLaren employs the principles normally used to put drawings or puppets into motion to animate live actors. The story is a parable about two people who come to blows over the possession of a flower. For more background info on this film, visit the NFB.ca blog.
A light-hearted animated short about how Canada's vast distances and great obstacles were overcome by settlers. The story is told with a tongue-in-cheek seriousness and takes us from the intrepid trailblazers of long ago to the aircraft of today and tomorrow. A 1953 Cartoon Short Subject Oscar®-nominee.
The operations of a herring boat, and of her crew, are typical of the ships and crews that dot the coastal waters of British Columbia. This film goes out to sea to tell the story of the trawler Western Girl, of her skipper and his men, and their race to get their catch before the quota is taken and the fishing area closed. We see the cooperation necessary in an enterprise that has a great element of risk, for though there is big money in herring when the catch is good, competition is keen and the outlay heavy; one man's mistake may mean severe loss.
This short film depicts how a small Canadian city, bearing the name of Stratford and by a river Avon, created its own renowned Shakespearean theatre. The film tells how the idea grew, how a famous British director, international stars and Canadian talent were recruited, and how the Stratford Shakespearean Festival finally became a triumphant reality. For more background information about this film, please visit the NFB.ca blog.
This classic short film from Pierre Berton depicts the Klondike gold rush at its peak, when would-be prospectors struggled through harsh conditions to reach the fabled gold fields over 3000 km north of civilization. Using a collection of still photographs, the film juxtaposes the Dawson City at the height of the gold rush with its bustling taverns and dance halls with the more tranquil Dawson City of the present.
In this Oscar®-nominated short film, a chair, animated by Evelyn Lambart, refuses to be sat upon, forcing a young man to perform a sort of dance with the chair. The musical accompaniment is by Ravi Shankar and Chatur Lal. This virtuoso film is the result of a collaboration between Norman McLaren and Claude Jutra.
This documentary shows the inspiration behind Inuit sculpture. The Inuit approach to the work is to release the image the artist sees imprisoned in the rough stone. The film centres on an old legend about the carving of the image of a sea spirit to bring food to a hungry camp.
A triumph of film art, creating on the screen a vast, awe-inspiring picture of the universe as it would appear to a voyager through space, this film was among the sources used by Stanley Kubrick in his 2001: A Space Odyssey. Realistic animation takes you into far regions of space, beyond the reach of the strongest telescope, past Moon, Sun, and Milky Way into galaxies yet unfathomed.
Arthur Lipsett's first film is an avant-garde blend of photography and sound. It looks behind the business-as-usual face we put on life and shows anxieties we want to forget. It is made of dozens of pictures that seem familiar, with fragments of speech heard in passing and, between times, a voice saying, "Very nice, very nice." It was critically acclaimed and plays frequently in festivals and film schools around the world.
An animated film based on Stephen Leacock's witty account of a young man's first brush with banking. When he tries to make his deposit, he is so intimidated by the institution that nothing he says comes out right.
This short animation consists of three segments that take a playful look at Christmas: a rendition of "Jingle Bells" in which paper cut-out figures dance, a dime-store rodeo of tin toys, and a story of decorating the perfect Christmas tree. This holiday film received many awards and an Oscar nomination.
This documentary shows how an Inuit artist's drawings are transferred to stone, printed and sold. Kenojuak Ashevak became the first woman involved with the printmaking co-operative in Cape Dorset. This film was nominated for the 1963 Documentary Short Subject Oscar®.
A view from a helicopter of the ten Canadian provinces in 1966. The result is a big, beautiful and engrossing bird's-eye portrait of the country. Nothing here is quite the same as seen before, even Niagara Falls. Canadians will be thrilled by this panoramic view of familiar territory. Made for international distribution for the Canadian centennial.
A colour cartoon about tobacco addiction and the difficulty of breaking the habit. This case history of a chain smoker--told on a psychiatrist's couch, with the patient's recollections amusingly illustrated--explains the whole psychology of the smoking habit and the part that cigarette advertising plays in making it stick. The film has an entertaining appeal for young people.
Based on Holling C. Holling's book of the same name, Paddle to the Sea is Bill Mason's film adaptation of the classic tale of an Indian boy who sets out to carve a man and a canoe. Calling the man "Paddle to the Sea," he sets his carving down on a frozen stream to await spring’s arrival. The film follows the adventures that befall the canoe on its long odyssey from Lake Superior to the sea.
Norman McLaren's short film is a cinematic study of the choreography of ballet. A bare, black set with the back-lit figures of dancers Margaret Mercier and Vincent Warren create a dream-like, hypnotic effect. This award-winning film comes complete with the visual effects one expects from this master filmmaker.
A humorous animation film about a fellow who builds his house in the best suburb he can afford. He has a picture bride, a picture window and a garden as pretty as a picture, but he wanted something special and, like Jack and the Beanstalk, he finally got it! What he got is a moral for all.
Animator Ryan Larkin uses an artist's sensibility to illustrate the way people walk. He employs a variety of techniques--line drawing, colour wash, etc.--to catch and reproduce the motion of people afoot. The springing gait of youth, the mincing step of the high-heeled female, the doddering amble of the elderly--all are registered with humour and individuality, to the accompaniment of special sound. Without words.
Director Bill Mason's short film focuses on his friend and fellow filmmaker, Blake James. In his never-ending quest for freedom, Blake pilots his own plane. This film is Mason's view of his friend as a "hobo of the skies," but it is also an adventure that beckons the viewer to come along for the ride.
This short animation film about the evolution of life on Earth would make Darwin himself chuckle. It's funnier than any learned treatise, and yet it’s all here - from the single-celled amoebae romping about the ocean depths, to the first amphibious creatures crawling onto land, to the forefathers of Homo sapiens.
In this animated short, director Peter Foldès depicts one man’s descent into greed and gluttony. Rapidly dissolving and ever-evolving images create a contrast between abundance and want. One of the first films to use computer animation, this satire serves as a cautionary tale against self-indulgence in a world still plagued by hunger and poverty.
In a witty adaptation of E.B. White's tall tale, director Yvon Mallette animates the story of a family of seven who live happily in isolation on a small island in Barnetuck Bay. Somehow, word gets out that they are in distress and an ill-conceived rescue attempt makes for some unexpected adventures... For more background information on this film, please visit the NFB.ca blog.
This film is a revealing portrait of a tough cop with a big heart. Sergeant Bernie "Whistling" Smith walks the beat on Vancouver's Eastside, the hangout of petty criminals, down-and-outs and a variety of characters. His policing is unorthodox. To many drug users, petty thieves and prostitutes in this economically depressed area he is more than the iron hand of the law, he is also a counsellor and a friend.