Sunday, December 10, 2023
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Love, sex, and death

Founded in 1939, the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada produces and distributes audiovisual works under a creative mandate to educate and promote Canadian unity. The NFB became a landmark in Canadian cinema — a pioneer of interactive and immersive storytelling as a leader in the use of new media technologies. 

The lens of Canadian history and diversity uses nostalgia as a narrative device to channel a person’s memory and emotion, even if neither is their own. 

For me, the NFB became a refuge as I was obliged to outgrow everyone around me. Family was chaotic. Peers were too fickle to be friends. NFB segments that played during commercial breaks gave me morsels of relief. As much as I sought affirmation, even I managed to enjoy the vibrant motley of points from them. It was only after I got to access social media that I rediscovered them on the NFB app and website.

Here are some picks from the board that you might want to check out by Valentine’s Day.

Embraced (2018) directed by Justine Vuylsketer

In Embraced, auteur animator Justine Vuylsketer shows how love and memory can be distorted. Embrace serves as a metaphor for a chalky woman who mulls over what distinguishes the love that lingers from loves lost. This film evokes how we are often urged “to live in the moment,” only to devote ourselves to the future or succumb to the shadows cast by our pasts. Clouds dissolve to create overcast effigies, all of which signify how she internalizes their tensions. 

The Accordion (2004) directed by Michèle Cournoyer

As a device, the accordion evokes a physique that contracts and expands, similar to how we twist and turn for our loved ones. Romance is like an accordion, from which swathes of black ink take shape. The minimalism of the film’s sequences illustrates how technology reduces users to virtual elements, which dehumanize people who don’t meet certain expectations. Michèle Cournoyer is known for her fluid animation style, allowing me to feel more engaged onscreen and with my surroundings. 

Sexy Laundry (2015) directed by Izabela Plucinska

Married for years, Alice and Henry seek to reignite their passion and intimacy when they hole themselves up in a hotel suite. Although the change of scenery kindles a shared sense of adventure, the couple finds that home is where the heart is; the love they share is roused in everyday life and its exigencies. Sexy Laundry reminds me that love can endure and that it is never too late for people to find happiness with each other. 

Romance (2011) directed by Georges Schwizgebel 

Nostalgia is all I can think of to describe Romance, as I find myself longing for a when I lacked the shame to yearn. The characters flatter one another in an often aerial, wandering perspective. The animation is aptly impressionistic. Everyone featured in several tender tableaux poses — of couples more engrossed in one another than in the moment. Sexuality is manifest in relaxed affections. The sentimental desire pairs well with a lively sonata, perfect for a chill mood.

Photo: National Film Board of Canada


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