A scene from Alison Snowden and David Fine’s Animal Behaviour: Victor acts out. (image from National Film Board of Canada)
Alison Snowden and David Fine’s National Film Board animated short Animal Behaviour won for best animated short at the Canadian Screen Awards March 31.
The film also was an Academy Award nominee this year. It is the fourth Oscar nomination for the Vancouver-based husband-and-wife animation duo, who took home the Oscar 24 years ago for the NFB-Snowden Fine Animation-Channel 4 co-production Bob’s Birthday. They were also nominated for their 1987 NFB short George and Rosemary, with Snowden nominated before that for her 1984 student film Second Class Mail.
Animal Behaviour takes viewers inside a group therapy session for animals who grapple with issues not unlike our own. (See jewishindependent.ca/animated-therapy-session.) Produced and executive produced by Michael Fukushima for the NFB’s Animation Studio in Montreal, Animal Behaviour is the 75th Academy Award nomination for the NFB – more than any other film organization based outside of Hollywood. The NFB has received 12 Oscars over its 79-year history, including a 1989 Honourary Academy Award for overall excellence in cinema.
A still from Éléonore Goldberg’s animated short film My Yiddish Papi (Picbois Productions/NFB).
On Jan. 25, the National Film Board of Canada released Éléonore Goldberg’s animated short film My Yiddish Papi (Picbois Productions/NFB). It can be streamed free of charge across Canada on nfb.ca, as well as on NFB’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.
The online release of the film marked the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, which is observed on Jan. 27. With My Yiddish Papi, Goldberg has made a personal short film about filial love, duty and the transmission of memory by honouring a promise made long ago: that of illustrating the adventures of her grandfather, a resistance fighter during the Second World War.
Produced by Karine Dubois (Picbois Productions) and Julie Roy (NFB), the film was presented as a world première at the 2017 Ottawa International Animation Festival, and was also selected for the Sommets du cinéma d’animation de Montréal and the London International Animation Festival, among others.
Goldberg is an award-winning Franco-Canadian filmmaker, animator and cartoonist. In My Yiddish Papi, using ink-on-paper animation, she relates the story of her grandfather, Georges (Josek) Goldberg, who became a resistance fighter at age 20 during the Second World War. “He saved many lives and he and his family narrowly escaped Auschwitz,” said Goldberg in an interview on the NFB website. He died, in Paris, in July 2009.
“He would sometimes share his wartime memories when we dined together during the time I lived in Paris,” Goldberg told the NFB. “He never bragged; he was a humble, shy person. He would have liked me to make a graphic novel or film about his resistance adventures, and I had committed to doing it. But time passed and I did nothing. At his death, my promise came back to me.”
Anne Wheeler during the making of Chi. (photo from babzchulasociety.wordpress.com)
On Aug. 29, the National Film Board of Canada released more than 60 films that now can be viewed free of charge on nfb.ca. Among the new releases is Chi by Anne Wheeler (2013). The documentary follows Canadian actress Babz Chula (seen in the background of the photo) to Kerala, India, where she is to undergo treatment by an Ayurvedic healer in an effort to manage her six-year battle with cancer. The bare-bones Indian clinic at first disappoints, but Chula is uplifted, as her condition seemingly shows signs of improvement following treatment and introspection. Returning home, however, it is revealed that her cancer has advanced. Amazingly, the actress invites Wheeler to continue bearing witness to her journey into the unknown. Chula died on May 7, 2010.