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Festival marks DocLab’s fifth anniversary with special tribute to NFB interactive works

Montreal, November 2, 2012 — The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) returns to the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)—the world’s largest documentary film festival, taking place November 14 to 25, 2012—with a stellar selection of documentary films, including three premieres, as well as a unique film and performance event featuring three NFB interactive web documentaries.

International premiere – Reflecting Images: Masters

Directed by Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze, China Heavyweight), The Fruit Hunters (EyeSteelFilm/NFB) follows devoted fruit fanatics who’ve dedicated themselves to searching for and saving rare and exotic fruit. Movie star Bill Pullman’s obsession leads him on a crusade to create a community orchard in the Hollywood Hills. Adventurers Noris Ledesma and Richard Campbell scour the jungle for rare mangos, hoping to intervene before the plants are steamrolled by industrialization. Pioneering scientist Juan Aguilar races to breed bananas resistant to a deadly fungus that threatens the worldwide crop. And fruit detectives including Isabella Dalla Ragione investigate Renaissance-era paintings for clues, hoping to rediscover lost fruits. And, of course, there are the fruits themselves, presented in all their mouthwatering glory: cherimoyas, ice cream beans, durians and more.

The Fruit Hunters is produced by Bob Moore and Mila Aung-Thwin (EyeSteelFilm) and Kat Baulu (NFB). Executive producers are Daniel Cross (EyeSteelFilm), Ravida Din (NFB) and Robin Smith (Kinosmith).

European premiere – Mid-Length Competition

Daniel Léger’s Inseparable introduces audiences to Jean-Paul and Anne, who suffer from physical and intellectual impairments respectively, and share an unwavering love for each other. Declarations of love, little gifts, jokes and affectionate nicknames highlight a deeply moving relationship that transcends differences, as together they look after Jean-Paul’s ailing parents. With great respect for those who confide in him, Léger presents love through the eyes of two people with disabilities, and in so doing, creates an inspiring lesson in happiness.

Inseparable is produced by Murielle Rioux-Poirier and executive produced by Jacques Turgeon for the NFB.

European premiere – Reflecting Images: Panorama

For over 100 years, Aboriginal children in Canada were legally required to attend church-run boarding schools, an assimilationist practice now regarded as a national and cultural tragedy. Directed by Tim Wolochatiuk and written by Jason Sherman, We Were Children tells the heartbreaking true story of Lyna Hart and Glen Anaquod, removed from their homes at the ages of four and six and forced to adapt to a strange, threatening new world.

Blending stunning dramatic storytelling with unflinching documentary narratives, the film gives voice to two children trapped in a system that would impact their lives forever. We Were Children is a co-production of Eagle Vision Inc., eOne Television and the NFB, with the participation of Manitoba Film and Music, the Canadian Media Fund and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. The film is produced by Kyle Irving and executive produced by Lisa Meeches for Eagle Vision and Laszlo Barna and Loren Mawhinney for eOne, with David Christensen as producer and executive producer for the NFB.

Reflecting Images: Masters

The End of Time is the final film in a trilogy of works by Peter Mettler that explores the limits of what can be expressed in cinema, following Picture of Light (1994) and Gambling, Gods & LSD (2002). In his latest work, Mettler takes on the elusive subject of time, again seeking to film the un-filmable on a journey that takes him to a particle accelerator in Switzerland and lava flows in Hawaii, disintegrating inner-city Detroit and a Hindu funeral rite near the place of Buddha’s enlightenment. Mettler dares to dream the movie of the future while also immersing us in the wonder of the everyday.

The End of Time is produced by Cornelia Seitler and Brigitte Hofer (maximage), Ingrid Veninger (Grimthorpe) and Gerry Flahive (NFB). The executive producers are Silva Basmajian (NFB) and Peter Mettler.


This year marks the fifth anniversary of DocLab, IDFA’s program for showcasing new forms of digital storytelling that are expanding the documentary genre beyond linear filmmaking. On November 16, the festival will pay tribute to the NFB’s leadership in interactive documentary with a unique evening of music and cinema at the De Brakke Grond Arts Centre. Three of the NFB’s finest interactive projects― the new release Here At Home; A Journal of Insomnia, part one now online; as well as the acclaimed webdoc Bear 71―will be combined in a 90-minute presentation.

Here At Home

Here At Home lets users follow some of the participants in the At Home study, a research initiative led by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and health professionals who work with homeless populations, and the world’s largest study on mental illness and homelessness.

Hugues Sweeney, head of French-language NFB interactive media production, will present a 25-minute navigation experience.

Featuring films by directors Manfred Becker, Sarah Fortin, Darryl Nepinak, Louiselle Noël and Lynne Stopkewich, Here At Home is produced by Nathalie Cloutier and executive produced by Hugues Sweeney for the NFB, in association with the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

A Journal of Insomnia

On any given night, in any developed country, one person out of three can’t sleep. Why? In this first part of A Journal of Insomnia, insomniacs themselves confess their sleeplessness through webcam video testimony and written text or by drawing images of their feelings using a mouse.

On stage appear a small wooden table, a laptop, a simple chair and a desk lamp: insomniacs in the room will walk on stage and answer questions posed by A Journal of Insomnia, accompanied live by musician Philippe Lambert, a sound artist and one of the project creators.  

A Journal of Insomnia is being developed by the creative team of Guillaume Braun and Bruno Choinière from AKUFEN, Thibaut Duverneix and Philippe Lambert.  Hugues Sweeney is executive producer for the NFB.

Bear 71

Created by Jeremy Mendes, Leanne Allison and the NFB, Bear 71 is an interactive multi-user experience told from the point of view of an omniscient female grizzly bear, dubbed “Bear 71” by the park rangers who radio collar and track her.

Cellist Heather McIntosh will perform live as Bear 71 offers a poetic investigation of the densely tangled and interconnected systems of wired and wild life.

Winner of the Cyber Lion Award from the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Bear 71 was produced by Loc Dao, Bonnie Thompson, Dana Dansereau and Rob McLaughlin. The executive producers are Loc Dao, Rob McLaughlin and David Christensen.

About the NFB

The National Film Board of Canada creates groundbreaking interactive works, social-issue documentaries and auteur animation. The NFB’s award-winning content can be seen at and on apps for smartphones, tablets and connected TV. Canada’s public producer and distributor since 1939, the NFB has created over 13,000 productions and won over 5,000 awards, including 6 Webbys, 12 Oscars and more than 90 Genies.