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Absence is a rupture, a loss. But it also implies a quest. In her latest work, filmmaker Carole Laganière (East End Kids) explores various forms of absence—and its painful impact on our daily lives.

Absences was inspired by Laganière’s own personal story of the inevitable estrangement of her mother, whose memory is slowly being consumed by Alzheimer’s disease. This “anticipated separation” serves as a bridge to the film’s other subjects as they pursue their own quests. Through their stories, the film explores the deepest regions of the psyche, where our sense of loss and resiliency co-exist.

Doc | 75 min | HD
Carole Laganière

Bad Coyote

It’s new, it’s fearless, and it’s very real. A hybrid type of coyote, thought to be part wolf, has migrated to Eastern Canada. After a deadly mauling of a young woman in Cape Breton, alarm spreads across Nova Scotia.

Increasing media coverage and reports of attacks and sightings prompt the provincial government to issue a controversial bounty for dead coyotes. The central irony is not lost: this new breed, called a “coywolf” by some, has replaced a wolf population previously driven out by predatory humans.

Bad Coyote offers a trenchant analysis of the politics—and the price—of living and playing close to nature.

Doc | 60 min | HD
Jason Young

Buying Sex

Timely and wise, this important documentary about the state of prostitution laws in Canada is a revelation. Buying Sex captures the complexity of the issue by listening to the frequently conflicting voices of formerly prostituted women, sex workers, policy-makers, lawyers and even the male buyers who make their claim for why prostitution is good for society. Examining the realities in Sweden and New Zealand and respecting the differences of ideology as Canada works its way toward an uneasy consensus, the film challenges us to think for ourselves and offers a gripping and invaluable account of just what is at stake for all of us.

Official Selection – Hot Docs
Toronto, 2013

Doc | 75 min | HD
Teresa MacInnes, Kent Nason


Well-known filmmaker Anne Wheeler and actor Babz Chula take off for southern India, armed only with a camera and the hope of making a film about a little-known, seemingly miraculous treatment for cancer.

Official Selection – Hot Docs
Toronto, 2013

Doc | 59 min | HD
Anne Wheeler

Hi-Ho Mistahey!

In 2010, a national movement for fairness in education for First Nations children, in safe and suitable schools, was born in the Cree community of Attawapiskat. This was Shannen’s Dream.

With Hi-Ho Mistahey!, director Alanis Obomsawin brings together the voices of those who have taken the dream across Canada and all the way to the United Nations in Geneva.

The children’s voices were finally heard in February 2012. Construction of a new school for Attawapiskat could finally begin.

Official Selection – TIFF
Toronto, 2013

Doc | 100 min | HD
Alanis Obomsawin

Hue A Matter of Colour

Hue, by renowned director and cinematographer Vic Sarin, is a personal investigation into the history and often tragic effects of colourism—the phenomenon whereby people within the same ethnic group discriminate against one another based on differences in skin tone. Sarin travels to countries in Asia, South America, the Caribbean and Africa to discuss this complex cross-cultural social issue with individuals whose lives it affects, including a Filipina entrepreneur whose business has flourished within the billion-dollar skin-whitening industry. Hue leads viewers on a surprising journey to the heart of an insidious social issue that is anything but black and white.

Doc | 85 min | HD
Vic Sarin
Sepia Films | NFB

Island Green

Prince Edward Island: Canada’s smallest province, famous for its spuds and red mud. In the last 50 years since industrialized farming took root, this predominantly agricultural island has also seen cancer and respiratory illness rates rise to unprecedented levels. Given the worrisome future of PEI’s indebted farmers, Island Green dares to ask: What if the island went entirely organic?

Doc | 20 min | HD
Millefiore Clarkes

Journey to Oblivion: The Empress of Ireland Story

In May 1914, 1,477 passengers and crewmembers boarded one of Canadian Pacific’s most luxurious ocean liners: the Empress of Ireland. The ship left Quebec City for Liverpool on its first crossing of the season.

A few hours after departure, the Empress was hit by a Norwegian collier. A mere 14 minutes after the collision, the great liner was swallowed by the frigid waters of the St. Lawrence River. Over a thousand people perished.

Using astonishing underwater footage of the wreck and expert interviews, Journey to Oblivion: The Empress of Ireland Story revisits the tragedy on the occasion of its 100th anniversary.

Doc | 90 min | HD
Alain Vézina
Merlin Films Enr

Kids in Jail

Kids in Jail is a 45-minute documentary about two teens in a facility for youth offenders. Diamond and Phoenix are in love. Early on in their lives, they learned how to survive in a world of violence, dysfunction and drugs—a reality they understand a whole lot better than the “regular” world. As their story unfolds, it seems pretty likely that despite their potential they’ll fall back into familiar patterns of crime, violence and abuse. The film raises questions about society’s collective responsibility for at-risk youth. Should we be doing more?

Doc | 45 min | HD
Larry Lynn

Science at the Top of the World

The Canadian Arctic is ground zero for understanding our rapidly changing environment. Working in regions where most of the world’s population can only dream of going, against some of the world’s most breathtaking backdrops, scientists are using space-age technology with on-the-ground fieldwork and traditional Inuit knowledge to get the most detailed picture yet of the Arctic.

Doc | 44 min • 20 x 2 or 4 min | HD
Patrick McGowan
Cinematography Inc.

Somewhere and Nowhere

It’s a scenario that plays out across many ethnic enclaves in North America: the gentrification of old neighbourhoods at the expense of the people who live there. These neighbourhoods are in a period of flux where old world meets new, and, almost always, the old world doesn’t survive.

This documentary by Julia Kwan delves into the changing face of Vancouver’s Chinatown, capturing the perspective of residents, long-time merchants and new entrepreneurs.

Doc | 90 min | HD
Julia Kwan

The Wings of Johnny May

The first Inuit bush pilot in Nunavik, Johnny May has lived through adventures worthy of the novels of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. While his exploits have made him a legend among his people, May has also witnessed the twin upheavals of the adoption of sedentary life by the Inuit and the effects of climate change on the north. The Wings of Johnny May is an airborne documentary that sweeps us into the northern skies to discover a unique culture through the eyes of an exceptional man.

Doc | 90 min | HD | 2D/3D
Marc Fafard
Productions Thalie | K’ien Productions | NFB

The Fox and the Chickadee

A starving fox discovers a lone chickadee caught in a farmer’s trap. The hapless chickadee turns the tables by proposing a plan that would provide the fox with food for the whole winter, rather than just a snack. Only, he’ll need the chickadee’s help.

Told in the style of Aesop’s original fables, this short film by emerging director Evan DeRushie features a mix of classic puppet animation and layered paper cut-outs. It’s a clever battle of wits between two wild animals that asks the question: Can either of them be trusted when their lives are at stake?

Animation | 8 min | HD
Evan DeRushie

Gloria Victoria

Gloria Victoria unfolds on the still-smouldering rubble of the 20th century, propelled by the “invasion” theme from Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony (No. 7). The music sweeps over imagery of combat fronts and massacres, leading us from Dresden to Guernica, from the Spanish Civil War to Star Wars. It is at once a symphony that serves the war machine and art that mourns the dead while voicing its outrage.

The third film in a trilogy on the relationship between art and power, this is the work of an exceptionally gifted filmmaker. Theodore Ushev has orchestrated a thundering nightmare in the name of peace.

FIPRESCI Prize – International Animation Film Festival
Annecy, 2013

Animation | 7 min | HD
Theodore Ushev


Impromptu reminds us of the redemptive power of food, wine, music and love, as seen through the eyes of a modern man. While preparing yet another gourmet dinner for his young family, Chuck receives a giddy call from his wife, who tells him she has invited a group of her colleagues over to celebrate a work victory. As the evening progresses and the festivities slowly but surely begin to spiral out of control, a kind of order magically settles on the proceedings. When dinner is served, Chuck has a quiet epiphany about embracing the chaos of life’s rich pageant.

Animation | 10 min | HD and S3D
Bruce Alcock
Global Mechanic Media Inc. | NFB

Mary & Myself

Mary & Myself is a story within a story, a meta-narrative about two Chinese-Canadian women making their theatrical debut playing “comfort women” in The Vagina Monologues. Fusing activism and performance, this short animated documentary honours the thousands of girls and women from Korea, China, Japan and the Philippines who were forced into sexual slavery during the 1930s and ’40s.

Jia Tsu Thompson and Mary Mohammed spend long hours rehearsing their lines at Mu Lan Teahouse in Halifax, sipping tea and recounting buried stories of war. As they diligently practise together and at home, they have their own personal catharses.

Official Selection - Hot Docs
Toronto, 2013

Animation | 7 min
Sam Decoste

Soup of the Day

Set to a rollicking doo-wop song by Canadian songwriter Alexander “Zander” Ary, this animated short tells the amusing story of the dilemma a husband and wife face every time they go out to eat. Will their culinary differences douse the flames of romance, or will love prevail?

Director Lynn Smith brings her gouache paintings to life, animating “directly under the camera” and serving up a tour de force of storytelling. Vocalists Susie Arioli and Zander Ary bring a unique interpretation to this funny, loving song, and add a dash of tenderness to the colourful animated couple.

Official Selection – International Animation Film Festival
Annecy, 2013

Official Selection – International Cartoon & Animation Festival (SICAF)
Seoul, 2013

Animation | 4 min | HD
Lynn Smith

Subconscious Password

In the middle of a crowded bar, Charles is feeling increasingly desperate. The cause of his misery is his old friend... you know... what’s-his-name...

Directed by Chris Landreth, the filmmaker behind the Oscar®-winning short Ryan, Subconscious Password uses a common social gaffe—forgetting somebody’s name—as the starting point for a mind-bending romp through the unconscious. Inspired by the classic American TV game show Password, the film features a wealth of animated celebrity guests who try (and try, and try) to prompt Charles to remember the name. Finally, he realizes he will simply have to surrender himself to his predicament.

Annecy Cristal for Best Short Film – International Animation Film Festival
Annecy, 2013

Honorary Mention – Prix ARS Electronica
Linz, 2013

Animation | 11 min | HD
Chris Landreth

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