NFB Hothouse Challenges Animators With 3 Month Apprenticeship

Nice to see a blogger with such dedication for the short form! Thanks, Mike Kulasza from Winnipeg!

Short Film Fan

Are you a new and upcoming filmmaker who is passionate about animation? Are you up to the challenge of making an animated short that is only one minute long? If so, then the National Film Board’s Hothouse program is for you. In its eleventh year, Hothouse is an intense 3-month paid apprenticeship program aimed at giving a select group of new and talented filmmakers the opportunity to work with and be mentored by a variety of NFB filmmaking experts. At the end of the program, each participant will emerge skilled and experienced in animation filmmaking.NFB Hothouse 11 logo

Although the apprenticeship normally takes place at the NFB Animation Studio in Montreal, this year’s six apprentices worked out of his or her local NFB studio. The theme for this year’s films was ‘Found Sound 2.0’ whereby the films were created based on unusual or unique sound clips. The filmmaker had the choice to use pre-selected clips found online by the…

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#VIWFF2015 screening of Kay D. Ray’s Lady Be Good: Instrumental Women in Jazz marks Canadian premiere of jazz doc

My interview with Seattle’s Kay D. Ray, award-winning director of the documentary Lady Be Good: Instrumental Women in Jazz, in early 2014

Women in Film and Television Vancouver Blog


Women instrumentalists have made major contributions to American jazz, and this film captures many of the lost stories, from the early 1920s to the 1970s, including the development of numerous all-female jazz ensembles. Join Peggy Gilbert, Marian McPartland, Carline Ray, Quincy Jones, Jane Sager and many others in this important remembering of our musical past.

Using historical photos, provocative and often wildly humorous interviews with musicians, big band leaders, jazz authors and historians, this textured film by documentarian Kay D. Ray from Seattle is balanced with rare recordings and forgotten footage, both television and film. Like the stories of those who made it, the music is always engaging, often uplifting, and sometimes heartrending.

Kay recently drove all the way from Seattle to drop off her film copy. We took the chance to ask her a few burning questions:

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Love, a tragicomedy –– Canadian rom-com Relative Happiness to premiere in Vancouver at #VIWIFF2015

I first watched Relative Happiness as part of my research for the Reel West covering of the Whistler Film Festival in December 2014. This is such a charming film about a beautiful girl-with-curves with a kick-ass attitude. I loved the directing and the performances in this film, so I was very happy when the director Deanne Foley took some time to answer my questions. If you like to laugh and if you like romance, I suggest you try to watch this rom-com on a screen near you.

Women in Film and Television Vancouver Blog

Johnathan Sousa and Melissa Bergland Johnathan Sousa and Melissa Bergland in Relative Happiness

The Nova Scotian rom-com Relative Happiness, directed by Deanne Foley, charmed festival audiences with its fabulous lead (Australian actress Melissa Bergland) and the right mix of humour and emotion. Bergland stars as Lexie, plus-sized and 30 years old, a feisty Bed and Breakfast owner who desperately needs a date to her sister’s wedding. Co-starring as Lexie’s love interests are Aaron Poole (Strange Empire, The Animal Project) and Johnathan Sousa (The Animal Project, Rookie Blue). The film is based on the bestselling novel by Lesley Crewe.

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WIFTV 25th Anniversary Retrospective presents encore screening of Brishkay Ahmed’s daring doc Story of Burqa

I first met Brishkay Ahmed at the media day of the 2012 DOXA Documentary Film Festival. I really admired her courage to go and film a film about the history of the burqa in Afghanistan. Brishkay and I have been loosely in contact with each other since then and I was very happy to see her film will get an encore screening at WIFTV’s 15th anniversary retrospective on January 18, 2015. I hope to see some of you there. Here’s my conversation with Brishkay on behalf of Women in Film.

Women in Film and Television Vancouver Blog

burqa photo 2Afghan-Canadian director Brishkay Ahmed‘s daring tale of the origin and future of the burqa, a garment tied to the image of Afghanistan, was one of 17 films handpicked to celebrate the creativity of BC women filmmakers in a matinee retrospective on January 17 and 18.

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Suzanne Crocker finds happiness in the Yukon wilderness in her doc “All the time in the World”

I met Suzanne Crocker at a Women in Film & Television workshop earlier this year and was intrigued by her story about shooting a doc in the Yukon bush, while living nine months off the grid. I’m happy she let me preview her doc, which screens at VIFF this week. Go and have a look, if you can, it’s worthwhile!

Women in Film and Television Vancouver Blog


“I always envisioned myself as being one of those moms who would have fresh baked cookies and a glass of milk ready for their kids when they walked in the door after school,” says filmmaker Suzanne Crocker in the opening scene of her new doc All The Time In The World, as she pulls a canoe jam-packed with supplies up a rocky Canadian river. But she always felt there wasn’t enough time for the things that really counted. 

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500 days without a shower – Documentary filmmaker Dianne Whelan preps her new adventure

Meeting Dianne Whelan and her dog Lily was so uplifting. I didn’t intend to write such a long article for the Women in Film blog, but then Dianne gave me all this input I couldn’t refuse. Well… here she is, preparing her next adventure.

Women in Film and Television Vancouver Blog

Dianne Whelan with her 18-year old Jack Russell, Lily, on Granville Street. August 22, 2014. Photo by Katja De Bock Dianne Whelan with her 18-year old Jack Russell, Lily, on Granville Street. August 22, 2014. Photo by Katja De Bock

If you’re experiencing the moviemaker blues it’s time to get inspired by local WIFTV member, journalist and photographer-turned-filmmaker Dianne Whelan. If you know Whelan’s former work, you’ll remember her expeditions to the Canadian Arctic and Mount Everest’s base camp, both turning into award-winning films.

“I made 55 days without a shower on Everest, and might break the record on the next project,” says Whelan, whose next expedition may well lead to 500 days in the dirt. “I’m trying to be the first person in history to do the [entire] Trans Canada Trail.” 

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Arbutus Corridor Souvenirs

Arbutus1As the debate about the city’s possible purchase of the Arbutus corridor is ongoing, I realized there might be little time left to walk or bike along the trail, a trip that was on my Vancouver ‘to do’ list for a few years.

Though we still haven’t managed the bike trip, my family and I went for a nice walk along three routes of the corridor a few weeks ago. Some parts of the walk are probably less familiar to the general audience than the popular route along 6th Avenue between Fir and Maple streets. In the following photo essay, you’ll find some impressions of the trip. Please note the trip was taken spontaneously and most photos taken by my iPhone. Continue reading

Faces of BC Film – Kellie Ann Benz’ movie Naked Night Bike premieres on IndieFlix

Maude (Jennifer McLean) and Bertrand (Kris Elgstrand) try to relate in Naked Night Bike.

Maude (Jennifer McLean) and Bertrand (Kris Elgstrand) try to relate in Naked Night Bike.

Generally, menopause is no laughing matter, especially if you experience symptoms at as early as age 40. Vancouver filmmaker Kellie Ann Benz was diagnosed with the condition sooner than she ever imagined and didn’t know who to talk to. What was worse, her boyfriend at the time got cold feet and the relationship ended dramatically.

“It was clear that menopause evokes this panicky reaction in people, as if aging is contagious and that it was just one of those realities of life that no one wanted to talk about,” says Benz. “The whole experience made me feel like my ‘market value’ had plummeted and yet here I was, still in this world, still vital in so many ways, still loving, still attracted, still attractive, yet now very aware that I belonged to a different club of women. It was such a weird time that I knew a movie had to be made.” Continue reading

Vancouver stunt performer Maja Aro nominated for 2014 Taurus World Stunt Award

A great addition to the series Faces of BC Film. I first met Maja Aro at a grip and lighting seminar at William F. White, organized by Women in Film and I was happy the organization asked me to blog about her L.A. nomination. Way to go, Maja!

Women in Film and Television Vancouver Blog

Aro1 cropped When Maja Aro comes over to meet me at the Dominion building the athletic young woman is what I had expected from a stunt performer. However, I am impressed when I see two recent scars in her face and a splinted hand. When I ask her about it, Aro smiles and shrugs. Injuries come with her job and she doesn’t make a big fuss about it.

She obtained the cuts at the set of the sci-fi show The Tomorrow People, where she flew through a tempered glass door and got such a big gap on her face it needed stitches. However, Aro says she didn’t deal with it until the take was over and continuity pictures were shot.

“I have a very high pain threshold, luckily, and I don’t bruise easily,” she laughs,

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Faces of BC Film: Suzette Laqua and the inaugural Vancouver Web Fest

VWF logoOur digital lifestyle is moving with seven-league boots and sometimes our decisions have to be made accordingly. And so it happened when Suzette Laqua decided within a few seconds to produce Vancouver’s first web series festival, which will take place May 2nd-4th at the Imperial Vancouver (formerly District 319, at 319 Main St.)

The Vancouver Web Fest celebrates “the progressive evolution of entertainment and programming created exclusively for the Internet.” Screenings showcase a wide range of Canadian and international web series including comedy, drama, documentaries, thrillers, animation and more. The weekend also features industry panels, parties, life performances and an awards gala. Continue reading