Falling in love with Bear 71 in its world & Interview with co-creator Leanne Allison

Wednesday, 16 January, 2013

bear 71 - interactive doc from NFB

I just watched & experienced my first ever award-winning first-person-documentary! It got me to play along and fall in love with Bear 71! The online experience/first-person-documentary is FREE thanks to National Film Board of Canada. And today, after a year long global competition, Bear 71 was selected as Site of The Year Winner amongst 12 Site of The Month finalists by 58 international judges in 2 rounds of voting! To see how amazing this honour is, you should know that the Site of The Month finalists were in turn selected from 365 Site of The Day Winners!

I will watch & play with Bear 71 again for sure. (update: 3 times so far) Let me give you the permission to explore and to click and look at different things during the 20 minutes experience because there are endless ways and many interesting hidden surprise for people to “first-person” interact and discover within the documentary. I was imagining/hoping there was a “right” way to interact with the film but there isn’t one. At key moments, the gentle hands of the creators of the experiences will bring you right along into some memorable video that will hopefully stay with you. For me, the memorable experiences will stay with me and has reaffirm and be more aware of the beautiful environment we (and the animals) experience even things are changing rapidly (often in not so positive ways for the animals). Lets hope shows like Bear 71 will help us want to make our world a better place not only for us humans, but also for bears like Bear 71 and other wild animals before things are too late.

Bear 71 (Trailer without the fun of interactive hangout)

Jan 19th update: Here is my extensive video interview with co-creator Leanne Allison where we talk about the one million plus photos Leanne got to pick and choose to use. The raw & candid video footage of a variety of wild animals captured motion-triggered cameras. And down to a discussion of how best to protect bears from trains in high-speed. Leanne and I also got to chat about the awesome documentary Being Caribou (2004) which you can watch for free online.

Here are some selected praises from the 58 international judges which I whole heartedly agree with.

Tom Daly, The Coca-Cola Company:

“The team behind ‘Bear 71’ put interactive story telling at the new edge of how we should imagine things.”

Julie Campagna, Adobe:

“Innovative and memorable, yet disturbing.”

Steve Lemarquand, Resn:

“I felt emotionally compelled to trek the virtual landscape for Bear 71.”

Mathias Appelblad, BBDO:

“A beautiful experience that pulls you right in. A great example of how technology and interaction can tell a story in an innovative, engaging and emotional way.”

Wesley Ter Haar, MediaMonks:

A site that is steadfast, almost stubbornly interactive. It interweaves narrative with data in a way that creates something uniquely digital, while also managing to resonate far beyond the experience itself. I catch myself thinking of Bear 71 in the same way I do about books or movies that have made a lasting impression, it is proof that our industry can create compelling, emotive work and will be the standard-bearer (pun not intended) for years to come.”

Eric Jordan, 2Advanced Studios:

Bear 71 is masterful blending of documentary-style video and information graphics, which combine together to make the site deeply engaging and informative.”

Kim Jong Il is dead – Tiger Spirit

Monday, 19 December, 2011

In the wake of Kim Jong Il‘s death, have a watch of the award winning doc Tiger Spirit (free online) about the border separating South and North Korea.

“This full-length documentary tells the story of modern Korea, a nation divided in half. The psychic scar shared by families divided during the Korean War in the 1950s is symbolized by the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing communist North from capitalist South. Along this infamous border, filmmaker Min Sook Lee begins an emotion-charged journey into Korea’s broken heart, exploring the rhetoric and realism of reunification through the extraordinary stories of ordinary people. An eloquent tale of longing and hope, Tiger Spirit is an unforgettable portrait of Korea at a crossroads.”

[HT NFB and filmmaker Min Sook Lee]

NFB Get Animated in Calgary FREE on Nov 6th, 2011

Wednesday, 5 October, 2011

Check out NFB‘s annual program Get Animated, a FREE celebration of animation in Calgary, Alberta on Nov 6th, 2011.

NFB celebrates 40 years of China-Canada relations with FREE movie screenings

Friday, 1 October, 2010

Here is the press release from NFB. Check out some of these FREE screenings if you are in Toronto.

The NFB celebrates 40 years of China-Canada relations at the Toronto Mediatheque

Toronto, October 1st, 2010 – This October, Canada and the People’s Republic of China are celebrating 40 years of diplomatic relations. The two countries have maintained productive relations for several decades now, enriched by exchanges in such varied sectors as science, agriculture, trade, the environment, medicine and culture. To mark this memorable anniversary, the National Film Board (NFB) is presenting seven recent films produced by China’s movie industry at the Toronto NFB Mediatheque from October 8 to 13. Several of the films are making their Canadian premiere alongside a selection of films produced by the NFB. The screenings are FREE and are being organized jointly by China’s Film Office of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and the NFB.

About the Program

Friday, October 8 at 6:30 pm

Forever Enthralled by Chen Kaige, 2008

An epic film on the life of the famed Chinese opera singer Mei Lanfang, starring Zhang Ziyi and Masanobu Ando, rising star Shaoqun Yu, who gives a remarkable performance, and Xueqi Wang in a supporting role. Named Best Film at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in 2009, Forever Enthralled has been presented in several competitions, including the Berlin International Film Festival in 2009.

Saturday, October 9 at 1 pm – program for the whole family

The Dream of Jinsha, animated film, 2010 (Canadian premiere)

Xiao Long, a schoolboy around ten years old, accidentally goes back in time to an ancient Chinese empire that existed 3,500 years ago. That’s when the problems start…

The film will be preceded by a screening of the NFB animated film The Friends of Kwan Ming.

Saturday, October 9 at 3 pm

Walking to School by Peng Jiahuang and Peng Cheng, 2009 (Canadian premiere)

Children of the Lisu tribe in the Yunnan mountains have a strange way of getting to school: they have to dangle from a hook above the gorges of the Nujiang River and slide along a steel cable. Read the rest of this entry »

The Trenches – TIFF 2010

Monday, 13 September, 2010

The Trenches is a great Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) 2010 short film. Check out more info and filmmaker interview from NFB.

Trailer of The Trenches.

The sound environment of The Trenches.

Matthew Talbot-Kelly “The Trembling Veil of Bones” interview

Tuesday, 10 August, 2010

Matthew Talbot-Kelly interviews (Pedlar Lady of Gushing Cross iPad app & The Trembling Veil of Bones animation)

Matthew Talbot-Kelly (imdb), director & producer of the animated short film “The Trembling Veil of Bones” and creator of the “The Pedlar Lady of Gushing Cross” iPad app, is an animator that was trained in architecture. In the following Skype video interview, I chatted with Matthew about how his knowledge of architecture influences his animations, why he decided to find an actor to play Bones, the story’s protagonist, the meanings of some of the images in the film, and more. Enjoy.

The following are clips produced by the National Film Board of Canada.



Chat with Cam Lizotte, animator, at Banff World TV Festival 2010

Thursday, 8 July, 2010

The following is my video chat with Cam Lizotte, animator at Camosabee Animation Studios, at 2010 Banff World TV Festival. Also take a look of Cam’s demo reel & portfolio.

P.S. I found this video clip from NFB.

P.P.S. I met Cam by chance at a Banff breakfast. It was nice to see him again by chance the following day, this time, part way through his breakfast, he got a chance to pitch his animation projects to a broadcaster. :)

Flamenco at 5:15 (Oscar-winning NFB documentary)

Friday, 2 April, 2010

Finally got around to watch the very enjoyable Oscar-winning NFB documentary “Flamenco at 5:15” (full documentary online). Nice to feel the energy of the dancers.

“This Oscar®-winning short film is an impressionistic record of a flamenco dance class given to senior students of the National Ballet School of Canada by two great teachers from Spain, Susana and Antonio Robledo. The film shows the beautiful young North American dancers–inspired by the flamenco rhythms and mesmerized by Susana’s extraordinary energy–joyously merging with an ancient gypsy culture.”

NFB online anti-racism film project featured in Huffington Post

Tuesday, 23 March, 2010

This reporter is excited to see the NFB online anti-racism film project featured in Huffington Post,

2. Racism is so last century/NFB
March 21 is International Day for the Elimination of Racism. To shake things up a little, check out Jaded, a sharp and funny mockumentary that uses role reversal to highlight racial discrimination. It’s from Work for All, a joint venture between the National Film Board of Canada and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (New Radical Innovators!!). NFB films are now available on Air Canada flights (how radical is that?). I’ve written about the NFB before — about filmmaker Katerina Cizek and how technology can be used as a tool for social change. Coming soon from Katerina and the NFB: a multi-media, multi-year collaborative project about the human experience in highrise apartment buildings around the world.

You can watch the full short mockumentary Jaded here at NFB (very funny).

Watch “Ten Million Books: An Introduction to Farley Mowat (1981) NFB Documentary” online

Sunday, 21 February, 2010

Ten Million Books: An Introduction to Farley Mowat (1981) NFB Documentary

Not growing up in Canada, I have an advantage compare to my fellow Canadians in judging the 1981 NFB documentary “Ten Million Books: An Introduction to Farley Mowat“. My advantage is that I can honestly say this is a great documentary on itself without worrying if my judgement has been clouded by my positive (or negative) view of Farley Mowat as a person.

I found Farley so interesting as an author and person that I have looked up a book of his and put it hold in the library. And I am also looking forward to reading his new auto-biography.

Film Synopsis (emphasis added),

Farley Mowat has sold more books than any other Canadian writer – 10 million copies in 22 languages in 50 countries. In this short film, Mowat recalls some of his experiences that have found their way into his work.

Watch “Ten Million Books: An Introduction to Farley Mowat” online and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did. Have fun.

I know Farley is working on his new auto-biography because I’ve finished watching “Finding Farley” (2010) and in the film Farley said he is working on his auto-biography (see official trailer and info). See pix and info here and here.

Watch Being Caribou (2004) NFB Documentary online – Highly recommended

Sunday, 21 February, 2010

Being Caribou (2004) NFB Documentary

I had a great time watching the NFB documentary “Being Caribou” when it was screened at the Calgary International Film Festival a few years ago. I am happy to share with you that the full documentary video “Being Caribou” is now onlineo!

Here is the film synopsis (emphasis added),

In this feature-length documentary, husband and wife team Karsten Heuer (wildlife biologist) and Leanne Allison (environmentalist) follow a herd of 120,000 caribou on foot across 1500 km of Arctic tundra. In following the herd’s migration, the couple hopes to raise awareness of the threats to the caribou’s survival. Along the way they brave Arctic weather, icy rivers, hordes of mosquitoes and a very hungry grizzly bear. Dramatic footage and video diaries combine to provide an intimate perspective of an epic expedition.

I remember I had tears in my eyes when I watched the beauty in the landscape and the wildlife Karsten and Leanne showed in the film. And as I watch the film online, I am touched again when I see the beauty and the filmmakers respect for the caribous and the wildlife.

It is easy to think that only humans matter and we don’t need to respect other life forms on this earth. I think that view is short sighted as we (humans) are just one of the living beings on earth and, at some point, we have to learn to live while respecting other living beings on this Pale Blue Dot.

P.S. I feel I have to add this note. I am not your typical environmentalist or animal lover. For example, I love steaks, and if I can trust the meat quality, I will probably even try Caribou steaks too!

BUT, I refuse to be so arrogant to think that human beings rule supreme and can trample other living beings on earth without careful thoughts and reasons. It is no laughing matter to seriously disturb the habitat of Caribous or other animals and putting their survival in danger.

Rains: post-Sundance interview with NFB Animator David Coquard-Dassault

Thursday, 11 February, 2010

Rains - David Coquard-Dassault

Rains is an award-winning NFB animation by David Coquard-Dassault. Rains is most recently screened at the 2010 Sundance film festival. In the eyes of this reporter, it is a stunningly and beautifully drawn (pencil-drawn) piece of animation.

Since I speak no French, the following is my email interview with David (links, additional notes and emphasis added).

Kempton: The rains and water look absolutely realistic. May I ask how did you do it? Did you film artificial/real rain and then composite on top of your beautiful pencil drawings?

David: The rain was generated using After Effects. I drew a few pencil lines: the impact of the rain on the cars – the ripples in the puddles were animated by hand – then, with the software, we multiplied and randomly dispersed them at the rhythm we wanted.

Because of the different contrast values and textures of the various shots, the rain was very hard to handle. It disappeared against some backgrounds; against others, it was too obvious and washed out the pencil. We had to create different kinds of rain for each shot and co-ordinate them all to create the downpour.

Kempton: The story is beautiful told. How did you come up with the story and script?

David: Before sitting down to write, I drew scenes and graphic compositions to link them together: that was a preliminary storyboard.

With Rains, I was trying to create an atmosphere rather than tell a story, which meant a quite different approach to the script. The difficulty in writing a contemplative film resides – at least in part – in finding a hook for the script.

I didn’t really start writing until after doing the storyboard. The challenge of writing a script, using words rather than drawings, was to work backwards from the idea, in a way, trying to find a thread that would move the film forward, that would give it meaning.

Kempton: Your first film looks spectacular. How long did it take you to make it? What are some of the hard challenges you faced in making the film?

David: Rains was 10 months in the making while I was an artist-in-residence at Folimage, in France. But it took three years, from idea to distribution, before the film could finally be seen. There are always problems making a film, no matter how small. Aside from the rain mentioned above, the true challenge seemed to be bringing immobility to life.

Kempton: Can you talk about the music and the sound effect? They are both beautiful.

David: When writing this type of contemplative film, you need to have a very precise idea of the music you want. I worked on the computer animation with the piece “Fratres,” by Arvo Pärt. Félix Dufour-Laperrière, who was in residency at the same time as I was, making Rosa Rosa, had introduced me to Pärt’s minimalist music (films are made of chance encounters). Christophe Heral, my composer, then wrote the main lines of the piece in order to offer his own point of view. He was able to work with all the sound in the film – the music and effects – to create a soundscape in harmony with the film: The pictures and sound are closely linked.

Kempton: And the group of birds at the end of the film is so lively. So minimalistic and yet realistic and beautiful at the same time. How did you make them so real?

David: I believe that I rendered them well, but they are not, strictly speaking, realistic. The film, through drawings, provides an interpretation of birds in flight – that is animation’s main advantage.

[Kempton note: I incorrectly used “realistic”. What David managed was to magically bring out the essence of a bird and a flock of birds in flight with a pencil line or a few pencil lines.]

Kempton: Any other things you want to say about the film or the filmmaking process?

David: Making a film is exhausting. It’s really time I made another.


Here is a trailer of David Coquard-Dassault’s Rains.

P.S. I hope this film will come to the Calgary International Film Festival so Calgarians can watch it on big screen.

Sundance screened Vive La Rose (NFB animation) is a beauty

Sunday, 7 February, 2010

Runaway, Vive la Rose, Rains from NFB

Filed this report “Sundance screened Vive La Rose (NFB animation) is a beauty” at examiner.com (with video).

Sundance screened Runaway (NFB animation) is a runaway success

Sunday, 7 February, 2010

Runaway, Vive la Rose, Rains from NFB

Filed this reporter “Sundance screened Runaway (NFB animation) is a runaway success” at examiner.com with two great full-length animations. Enjoy.

Sundance screened Runaway (NFB animation) is a runaway success

Friday, 5 February, 2010

This entry is cross-posted at examiner.com


Runaway, Vive la Rose, Rains from NFB

The Sundance screened NFB animation Runaway is a runaway success in this reporter’s eyes. Runaway has already won Best Short Film International Critics’ Week at Cannes 2009 and Special Jury Award at 2009 Annecy International Film Festival. The enjoyment in watching this funny and disastrous train ride is remarkable. Here is some info from NFB,

Cordell Barker, who directed The Cat Came Back and Strange Invaders, is once again at his best with Runaway. Set to the music of Ben Charest (composer of The Triplets of Belleville), Runaway takes you on a journey that is both funny and disastrous.

Happy passengers are having a great time on a crowded train, oblivious to the unknown fate that awaits them around the bend. The ensuing crisis leads to a class struggle that is as amusing as it is merciless. Naturally there are victims, but in the end everyone is equal.

You can have a watch of the trailer of Runaway. This reporter is in the process of arranging a potential interview with filmmaker Cordell Barker. Stay tune.

And to write this entry, this reporter has also watched The Cat Came Back (again) and Strange Invaders (for the first time). Both films are deadly funny and stand the test of time. As you may remember, I’ve previously highlighted The Cat as a great film to watch.

3 NFB Animated Shorts @ Sundance: Runaway, Vive la Rose, Rains

Thursday, 4 February, 2010

Got a special delivery from the super helpful and charming NFB publicist this morning.

Special delivery from NFB

The three films Runaway, Vive la Rose, and Rains all went to Sundance film festival this year and their trailers/teasers all look amazing. I will be reviewing these films shortly. Stay tune.

Runaway, Vive la Rose, Rains from NFB

Online NFB films (launched 1 year ago) are LOVED by many!

Monday, 25 January, 2010

I am so proud to be a Canadian and a long time lover of National Film Board (NFB) films. Quoting “One year after putting NFB films online – Here are the stats…

Total Film Views on NFB.ca (Jan 2009-Jan 2010)
* 3.7 million total online film views since we launched a year ago
* 2.2 million online film views in Canada (59% of views)
* 1.5 million views International (not including Canada) on the web
* Total international views: 1.45 million views
* Total views: 3 768 628

Film Views on iPhone App (Since October 21 2009)
* 396, 190 views on iPhone in Canada
* 131, 332 views on iPhone outside Canada
* 527, 522 Total film views on iPhone
* Total number of apps downloaded: 171 271

NFB is seriously cool, keep up the great work NFB.

The most popular film in 2009 is “A Sunday at 105, (13:20) with 155,183 views“. After watching the film, I don’t think anyone can resist the charming 105 years old leading lady! Here is the synopsis of “A Sunday at 105“,

A 105 year old Acadian agrees to be filmed one Sunday as she goes about her daily routine and ruminates on life. Filmed by her great-grandson, Aldéa Pellerin-Cormier comments wisely on politics, sex and religion. From getting ready in the morning to drinking her nightcap before bed, every moment is punctuated with a witticism or existential thought. Respectful of the old woman’s privacy, Daniel Léger’s first documentary looks at wisdom, serenity and enjoyment of life. In French with English subtitles.”


[HT Michael]

3 NFB animations in Sundance

Sunday, 24 January, 2010

I am excited to hear there are 3 National Film Board (NFB) animations in the 2010 Sundance that is going on right now.

I will be reviewing these short animations soon and will post some more later. Check out the following teaser or trailer. Enjoy.

P.S. Yes, the rumour is true. @BillGates was seen in front of a Wayne’s World hat (big smile) (thanks Melissa) and he tweeted from Sundance too!

Sebastian’s Voodoo – great animation from NFB competition

Tuesday, 29 December, 2009

“A voodoo doll must find the courage to save his friends from being pinned to death.”

Another great film from the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada competition.

“Joaquin Baldwin is an Annie Award nominee director and animator from Paraguay. Living in Los Angeles, he is now finishing his MFA in animation at UCLA. He has received over 50 international awards for his animated films Sebastian’s Voodoo and Papiroflexia, and also several grants including the Jack Kent Cooke full Graduate Scholarship in 2006.”

And here is a bonus chat between Joaquin Baldwin, director of Sebastian’s Voodoo, and Lucas Martell, director of Pigeon: Impossible.

Human cost of the economic crisis

Friday, 6 November, 2009

Calgary filmmaker Matt Palmer’s new NFB video instalment of “Human cost of the economic crisis“.

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