Kimmapiiyipitssini The Meaning of Empathy

NFB storytelling at this year’s Calgary Int’l Film Festival

eAwaz Entertainment

Vancouver – The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) selection at this year’s Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) will feature audacious storytelling from around the world, across Alberta and the North.

A total of five NFB films will screen at this year’s festival, with world premieres of a new feature documentary by journalist and filmmaker Michelle Shephard and a short doc by Chipewyan Prairie First Nation director Eric Janvier.

There are also three local premieres: a feature-length musical and cinematic experience co-directed by Inuit singer/creator Tanya Tagaq and Toronto’s Chelsea McMullan; a highly personal short doc by Edmonton-born and raised lori lozinski; and the latest short from Calgary’s own Oscar-nominated animation duo of Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis.

The festival is taking place this year from September 22 to October 2 in hybrid form, with in-person events combined with online screenings, geo-restricted to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

NFB lineup at CIFF

World premieres

The Perfect Story by Michelle Shephard (74 min)
Produced by Bryn Hughes (Frequent Flyer Films), Lea Marin (NFB) and Michelle Shephard
Press kit:

The Perfect Story is a heart-wrenching and provocative look at journalism, belonging, the stories we tell, and who gets to tell them. The film follows the decade-long relationship between Canadian journalist Michelle Shephard and Ismael Abdulle, a young Somali refugee who had his hand and foot cut off by the terrorist group al-Shabab.

  • Their story begins in 2010, when they met during one of Michelle’s reporting trips to Mogadishu for the Toronto Star. Her articles about Ismael sparked a movement within the Somali diaspora that helped him escape Mogadishu and find refuge in Harstad, Norway, 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. But when Ismael goes back to Mogadishu, an unexpected turn of events forces Michelle to defy one of journalism’s golden rules—“report the story, don’t become part of it”—and makes her question her role as a storyteller.
  • Distinguished journalist and filmmaker Michelle Shephard is the recipient of three National Newspaper Awards as well as the Michener Award, one of the highest honours in Canadian journalism. Her filmmaking credits include Guantanamo’s Child and The Way Out, and she served as creative content producer on the NFB co-production Uyghurs: Prisoners of the Absurd.

Heartbeat of a Nation by Eric Janvier (20 min)
Produced by Coty Savard for the North West Studio in Edmonton
Press kit:

  • On a beautiful sunny day in Northern Alberta, a river surrounded by green trees runs gently through the traditional lands of the Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation. As birds softly chirp, a father makes a tobacco offering to the river and reaches his hands below the water’s surface to pull out a caribou hide. Nearby, his young son watches. Today he will learn from his father how to make a caribou drum.
  • This evocative short documentary celebrates the healing of a community and a nation through the reclamation and passing down of traditional teachings within a Dene family.
  • Eric Janvier is a multi-hyphenate filmmaker from the Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation who has found space in both the narrative and documentary fields. He recently produced the upcoming indie feature film Hey Viktor!

Calgary premieres

Ever Deadly by Tanya Tagaq and Chelsea McMullan (90 min)
Produced by Lea Marin, Anita Lee and Kate Vollum for the Ontario Studio in Toronto
Press kit:

  • Ever Deadly, an immersive, visceral music and cinema experience featuring avant-garde Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq, created in collaboration with award-winning filmmaker Chelsea McMullan.
  • This feature doc weaves concert footage with stunning sequences filmed on location in Nunavut, seamlessly bridging landscapes, stories and songs with pain, anger and triumph—all through the expressions of one of the most innovative musical performers of our time.
  • Tanya Tagaq is an improvisational singer, avant-garde composer and author from Cambridge Bay (Iqaluktuuttiaq), who now divides her time between Nunavut and Toronto. A Polaris Music Prize and JUNO Award winner, Tagaq is an original disruptor, a world-changing figure at the forefront of seismic social, political and environmental change.
  • Toronto filmmaker Chelsea McMullan creates documentary, experimental narrative, and hybrid films that explore the work of leading international artists. McMullan’s first documentary feature, My Prairie Home, was named Best Canadian Documentary at the Vancouver Film Critics Circle.

A Motorcycle Saved My Life by lori lozinski (12 min)
Produced by Teri Snelgrove for the Pacific and Yukon Studio in Vancouver
Press kit:

  • In A Motorcycle Saved My Lifethe open road presents a point of departure for director lori lozinski to process deep-seated grief, as she bikes through British Columbia and into Northern Alberta’s vast, open spaces. Revisiting the formative experiences that drove her ambition, lozinski examines the influence of her parents in the present light of day.
  • Edmonton-born and raised lori lozinski is recognized for producing socially conscious, character-driven stories with female creatives. She recently co-produced Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers’ award-winning feature doc Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy with the NFB.

The Flying Sailor by Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis (7 min 45 s)
Produced by David Christensen for the North West Studio in Edmonton
Press kit:

  • Inspired by an incredible true story of a man who was blown two kilometres through the air by the 1917 Halifax Explosion, the animated short The Flying Sailor is at once a bold blend of comedy, suspense and philosophy and an exhilarating contemplation of the wonder and fragility of existence.
  • Calgary-based animators Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis met at the Emily Carr College of Art and Design in Vancouver. Each went on to create their own works with the NFB (Wendy Tilby’s Strings and Jan Padgett’s The Reluctant Deckhand, animated by Amanda Forbis) before co-directing When the Day Breaks, which received an Oscar nomination and more than 30 international awards, including the Palme d’Or at Cannes. In 2012, their animated short film Wild Life received an Academy Award nomination, among other honours.