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Why Me

Why Me(1978)

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teaser Why Me (1978)

Aubry Mintz and Ellen Besen (creators of the short "Sea Dream" and co-authors of Ideas for the Animated Short: Finding and Building Stories, with Besen as author of Animation Unleashed: 100 Principles Every Animator, Comic Book Writer, Filmmaker, Video Artist, and Game Developer Should Know) co-host a night of 30 animated short films produced by the National Film Board of Canada, which has a history of providing the world with a unique Canadian perspective through various means, famously including animation. The NFB began to garner its reputation for outstanding animation in 1941, when pioneering experimental filmmaker Norman McLaren joined the organization. A French-language animation unit was founded in 1966 by Ren Jodoin.

This collection of animated classics is broken into four programming units.

Fine Feathers (1968, 5 minutes), cut-paper animation by Evelyn Lambart, National Film Board technical director, about birds who change their plumage; What on Earth! (1966, 10 min.), directed by Les Drew and Kaj Pindal, about Martians who take a look at car culture on Earth; Mail Early (1941, 2 min.), Norman McLaren's first film for the NFB, animated by drawing symbols onto clear 35mm stock, with Benny Goodman's rendition of "Jingle Bells" providing accompaniment; A Chairy Tale (1957, 12 min.), directed by McLaren and Claude Jutra, animated through stop-motion pixilation and featuring Jutra and a very uncooperative chair; Very Nice, Very Nice (1961, 7 min.), an avant-garde collage film made by Arthur Lipsett from found snippets of audio; Boogie Doodle (1941, 3 min.), McLaren's drawn-on-film visual-music short, with music by jazz pianist Albert Ammons; Lines Vertical (1960, 6 min.), an experimental film directed by McLaren and Evelyn Lambart, with lines drawn directly onto film and responding to music; and Walking (1968, 5 min.), vignettes of how different people walk, animated by Ryan Larkin.

Hot Stuff (1971, 9 min.), an argument for fire safety animated by Zlatko Grgic and written by Don Arioli; The Owl Who Married a Goose: An Eskimo Legend (1975, 8 min.), a parable about love between two different types of fowl, directed by Caroline Leaf in the Inuktitut language; The Street (1976, 10 min.), Leaf's paint-on-glass animated version of Mordecai Richler's short story about a Jewish family reacting to the death of a grandmother; An Old Box (1975, 9 min.), a version of the Christmas story directed by Paul Driessen with minimalistic animation; The Family That Dwelt Apart (1973, 8 min.), Yvon Mallette's animated version of E.B. White's story of a family living in happy isolation on a small island; Monsieur Pointu (1975, 3 min.), an Oscar-nominated pixilation animation directed by Bernard Longpr and Andr Leduc in which a real-life Quebec violinist (Paul Cormier) appears to break into pieces that take on a life of their own; and Mindscape (1976, 8 min., French title Le paysagiste), pinscreen animation by Jacques Drouin, using no dialogue to tell its story of an artist who steps inside his own painting.

E (1981, 7 min.), Bretislav Pojar's animated comedy about the way various people in a park view a giant statue of the letter "E"; Every Child (1979, 7 min.), Eugene's Fedorenko's story of an abandoned baby left on various doorsteps; Why Me (1978, 9 min.), the study of a man who is told he has only five minutes to live, directed by Derek Lamb and Janet Perlman; Zea (1981, 5 min.), visual trickery created by Andr and Jean-Jacques Leduc, in which the commonplace is changed into the magical; Log Driver's Waltz (1979, 3 min.), John Weldon's lighthearted film based on Wade Hemsworth's song, one of the most popular animated shorts in the NFB catalog; La Plage (1978, 14 min.), a fantasy about a drowning woman, directed by Suzanne Gervais and based on a story by Roch Carrier; The Big Snit (1985, 10 min), an award-winning story of a couple facing nuclear disaster, directed by Richard Condie; The Sweater (1980, 10 min.), directed by Sheldon Cohen, about a French Canadian boy who receives a hockey sweater from the wrong team; and Sea Dream (1979, 6 min.), Ellen Besen's adaptation of a poem by Debra Bojman about a little girl who dives into an underwater fantasy.

Blackfly (1991, 6 min.), Christopher Hinton's Oscar-nominated look at a young surveyor in Northern Ontario who encounters pesky insects; Les Iris (1991, 4 min.), an animated short excerpted from Jacques Giraldeau's 1989 film Le Tableau noir, which takes a loving look at the Vincent Van Gogh masterwork The Irises; Bob's Birthday (1994, 12 min.), an Oscar-winning short directed by Alison Snowden and David Fine, in which a wife plans a surprise 40th birthday party for a husband who struggles with the thought of middle age; When the Day Breaks (1999, 9 min.), an award-winning fantasy directed by Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis, using pencil and paint on photocopies to tell the story of a rooster and a pig whose paths cross as they struggle to prepare breakfast; My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts (1999, 10 min.), Torill Kove's Oscar-nominated account of a woman who ironed for the king of Norway and had an impact on the resistance during World War II; The Cat Came Back (1988, 7 min.), Cordell Barker's hilarious, Oscar-nominated adaptation of the folk song about an old man's efforts to get rid of a troublesome cat.

By: Roger Fristoe

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