NFB Education has come up with a rich playlist of documentaries and animated films to mark Media Literacy Week, which takes place annually in November. Reflecting this year’s theme, “Makers and Creators,” the films in the playlist examine the complex relationship between artists and their work while fostering in-depth learning and creativity.
This short documentary, part animation and part live action, is a portrait of Canadian cartoonist Seth, best known for his Palookaville comic books. Throughout his works, Seth transforms an poignant inner life into observant and witty graphic stories. Incredibly prolific, he produces semi-autobiographical comics, award-winning commercial work, as well as what he calls his “little hobbies.” Here, director Luc Chamberland sheds light on his articulate character, mixing insightful biography with vivid animation in an artful fusion of filmmaking techniques that perfectly captures Seth’s manifold creative universe.
This Emmy-nominated feature film is an intimate and evocative journey into the hearts, minds and eyes of Georgia O’Keeffe, Emily Carr and Frida Kahlo - 3 of the 20th century’s most remarkable artists. The film uses the women’s own words, taken from their letters and diaries, to reveal 3 individual creative processes in all their subtle and fascinating variety.
This short film is a portrait of Tofino, BC intertidal artist Pete Clarkson as he crafts his most ambitious and personal project to date: a memorial to the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami. He, like so many of us around the world, was deeply affected by the disaster. Years later, as splintered and mangled timber and other objects started to wash ashore, the disaster hit home again for Clarkson, and the inspiration for his memorial was born. In Clarkson’s caring hands, the remnants from the Tohoku region take on a life of their own as he shapes them into a unique public sculpture. The result is an evocative memorial that is a site of remembrance and contemplation, and an emotional bridge connecting an artist, his community and a people an ocean away.
Spaceships soar into space. Dots dance on a page. Rocks and twigs transform into expressive faces. Kids can easily create this kind of magic themselves, and all they require are a few simple tools. Divided into four short, easy-to-understand chapters, Animate Everything introduces basic concepts of animation to a young audience. Explaining visually with colourful images, siblings Lindsay and Will demonstrate how to bring everyday objects to life — and even how to animate people! Animate Everything encourages you to “make your own magic in whatever style you want.”
Not only did Norman McLaren create his own film imagery, he also made his own music by drawing, etching and photographing patterns directly onto the sound track area of the film, becoming a pioneer of electronic music long before the invention of the synthesizer. Norman McLaren: Animated Musician celebrates this exploration and presents much never-before-seen work by this master of cinema.
In this short documentary, Canadian concert pianist Glenn Gould enjoys a respite at his lakeside cottage. This is an aspect of Gould previously known only to the collie pacing beside him through the woods, the fishermen resting their oars to hear his piano, and fellow musicians like Franz Kraemer, with whom Gould talks of composition.
Revealing Marie Saint Pierre is an art documentary about Quebec fashion designer Marie Saint Pierre. The film gives razor sharp insights into her creative process, and being a woman and an entrepreneur in the exclusive world of luxury fashion. Influenced by childhood friend Riopelle, the internationally renowned Canadian painter and sculptor, Marie Saint Pierre chose fashion to express herself, but as a world-class artist she could have easily become a filmmaker, a painter or a sculptor.
This short documentary profiles an imaginative inventor and craftsman who makes whimsical stringed instruments out of unlikely items: shovels, rakes, baseball bats, and stop signs become beautiful and functional guitars, violins, banjos, and fiddles. After a near-death experience, retired machinist Lorne Collie embarked on his creative journey, and this heartening film offers a folksy, one-of-a-kind portrait of Collie's spirit and talent. Through weathered doc footage and hand-crafted animation, the film shows that Collie is having more fun than he’s had in a long time and feeling more than alive.
This revealing portrait of NFB filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin was shown at a gala ceremony in 2008, where Obomsawin received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement. Her work has captured some of the most startling events in Canadian history, including the armed standoff between the Canadian Army and Mohawk warriors in 1993. Her films cross a spectrum of social issues, but they are always human. Obomsawin explains in the interview, "For me, a real documentary is when you're really listening to somebody; they are the ones that will tell you what the story is, not you."
Folk music icon Buffy Sainte-Marie became internationally renowned with her protest song "Universal Soldier." In this short documentary, she candidly discusses her hopes, creative vision and songwriting skills, as well as her role as an Aboriginal activist. Still a vibrant artist fifty years into her career, she keeps her eyes set on the future.
In this feature-length film on the art of the documentary, director Pepita Ferrari interviews 33 leading documentarians and shows clips from over 50 films. From cinéma-vérité pioneers like Albert Maysles and Michel Brault to mavericks like Errol Morris and Nick Broomfield, it explores the challenges of capturing reality on film. Directors as diverse as Pakistani feminist Sabiha Sumar and new media guru Peter Wintonick reflect on ethical issues and the contested status of the “truth.”
Featured interviews include German iconoclast Werner Herzog; Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzmán; British director Kim Longinotto and Alanis Obomsawin, the First Lady of First Nations cinema. Visit Capturing Reality for additional interviews and background.
This short film brings together animation workshops led by award-winning independent animator Caroline Leaf. The film, which discusses and demonstrates Leaf’s artisan's approach to narrative filmmaking, explores 3 techniques she pioneered during her 20-year tenure at the NFB: sand, paint-on-glass and scratch animation.