Spend some time with rare and remarkable stories about building a chosen family, grieving a loss, attaining a new kind of celebrity, preserving what’s special about the past, and facing your fears before they devour you.
The National Film Board of Canada has some great new films online with one very special thing in common: they’ve all been produced right here in Vancouver, at the NFB’s BC & Yukon Studio in Gastown.
Led today by veteran executive producer Shirley Vercruysse, with Teri Snelgrove as producer, the NFB studio has roots in Vancouver going back to the 1970s. It produces and co-produces socially-engaged point-of-view documentary films and acclaimed auteur animation, working with diverse filmmakers who have real perspective.
There are never any ads on the National Film Board of Canada’s website, and there is no subscription required—just an interest in great local storytelling. Here are five films to watch this fall.
Lay Down Your Heart (70 min)
Director: Marie Clements. Co-written with Niall McNeil.
A beloved figure in Vancouver’s theatre community, Niall McNeil is an artist, performer, and person with Down syndrome who has built a unique family tree of blood and chosen relations. In Lay Down Your Heart, he introduces us to his “family members,” including his “ex-wife”—who also happens to be acclaimed Métis Dene director Marie Clements. Winner of the Audience Award in the Portraits program at VIFF 2022.
Anything for Fame (85 min)
Director: Tyler Funk. Co-produced by North of Now Productions and the NFB.
Vancouver director Tyler Funk is fascinated by how far online influencers are willing to go for followers and fortune. Anything for Fame offers a timely study of what it takes to be a celebrity in the ruthless “attention economy” of the Internet—and as Funk shows, it can be a fine line between seeking attention and crying for help.
Unarchived (84 min)
Directors: Hayley Gray and Elad Tzadok.
In Unarchived by Vancouver filmmakers Hayley Gray and Elad Tzadok, community archives across British Columbia reveal what’s being erased from the official record. This feature documentary offers an absorbing look at how local knowledge keepers are fashioning a more inclusive history, including at the city’s new Chinese Canadian Museum and Ron Dutton’s BC Gay and Lesbian Archives, now preserved by the City of Vancouver Archives.
Zeb’s Spider (10 min)
Directors: Alicia Eisen and Sophie Jarvis.
Spinning darkness and humour into a complex emotional web, this stop-motion animated short offers up a crucial lesson about facing your fears before they eat you alive. Created in Vancouver by local filmmaker Sophie Jarvis working with Montreal’s Alicia Eisen, Zeb’s Spider received a Special Jury Award at the Los Angeles Animation Festival.
A Motorcycle Saved My Life (12 min)
Director: lori lozinski.
Vancouver filmmaker lori lozinski hits the road to process grief in her deeply personal short documentary A Motorcycle Saved My Life. As she bikes through BC and into Northern Alberta, the award-winning director revisits the formative experiences that drove her ambition, unpacking recollections at full throttle as she crosses Alberta’s vast farmland—a place where childhood was rife with paternal expectations.