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A young man strikes a deal with Baba Yaga in "Bone Mother." // Courtesy of the NFB

Daze’s top five National Film Board short films of 2018

The National Film Board (NFB) and its partners released a bunch of great short films in 2018, including documentaries, cartoons, and live-action narratives. I watched all of them (with the exception of the one that required a CAMPUS login) and below are my top five picks.

We’ve included Bone Mother below, but you can also watch the other four films by clicking on their names.

Bone Mother
Directed by Dale Hayward and Sylvie Trouvé
8 mins

This beautiful stop-motion film tells a tale of Baba Yaga and an arrogant young man who tries to trick her and steal the water of eternal life. The art is creepy and gorgeous, and though short, the film creates a complete world, building on existing legends while crafting something new. Renée-Madeleine Le Guerrier’s voice performance as Baba Yaga commands both sympathy and fear, and the relationship shown between the witch and her legendary hut is endearing and heartbreaking. This is an emotional, spooky story, and well worth the watch.

Children of the Nomad
Directed by Evelyne Papatie
2 mins

In only two minutes, director and cyclist Evelyne Papatie shares a part of her family history that inspired her to travel across Canada by bicycle, and her hopes for her children. Papatie addresses her kids directly in narration throughout the film, while the viewer is shown family photos, and Papatie showing those same photos to her children. The film paints a picture of perseverance and historical continuity, and it has a great soundtrack provided by Denis Jean-Pierre.

Ginette Laurin: Front and Centre
Directed by Jean-François Caissy
5 mins

In this short documentary, choreographer Ginette Laurin discusses the ways in which scene and space influence her work. What makes the film dynamic is the cuts between Laurin seated in a small room for the interview, and a dancer moving in the same room, performing a piece Laurin has choreographed that underscores what she says. The result is a beautiful snapshot of a creator, her process, and her work.

In the Beginning was Water and Sky
Directed by Ryan Ward
13 mins

Beautifully scored, this film has very little dialogue, but it doesn’t need it. Director Ryan Ward tells the story of two Indigenous children using stunning cinematography and an evocative soundtrack. A boy tries to escape from residential school, and a girl returns home to find her life has changed forever. The penultimate sequence of the girl’s story is both visually compelling and heart-wrenching. For anyone who doesn’t know much about residential schools or the role of the Catholic Church in the cultural genocide of Indigenous peoples, this short film is a good jumping off point. For everyone else, it’s a reminder of why reconciliation is needed.

The Mental Load for Dummies
Directed by Jesse Poulin
2 mins

For those who don’t know, the mental load is the work, traditionally taken on by women, of managing a household. It’s not only taking on the majority of the housework and childcare, but also managing any housework, childcare, or basic task performed by anyone else in your home. In this humorous yet tragic documentary, four moms share their mental loads, and how they’re slowly being crushed. The film drives home the stress these women face with a frenetic pace, fun visuals, and overlapping dialogue.

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