Toronto – The National Film Board of Canada is proud to present the world premiere of Chris Landreth’s The Spine, a bold new film whose dazzling artistic style pushes the limits of animation. Landreth’s latest is the eagerly awaited follow-up film to Ryan, his 2004 Oscar winner for best animated short. From the same creative team that produced Ryan, The Spine is entirely computer animated and features the voices of Gordon Pinsent and Alberta Watson. The Spine uses bizarre but strangely believable imagery to tell the story of an ordinary married couple whose lives are in turn tragic, absurd and beautiful. It premieres at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival (June 8-13) in Annecy, France and will have its North American premiere at the World Wide Short Film Festival (June 16-21) in Toronto, Canada.
For The Spine, Landreth joins forces again with producers Steve Hoban (Copperheart Animation), Mark Smith (Copperheart Animation) and Marcy Page (National Film Board of Canada), who had collaborated with him to make Ryan. The Spine is a poignant story of redemption that takes us into the relationship between a man and a woman trapped in a spiral of mutual destruction. Dan and Mary Rutherford, married 26 years, sit unhappily in a couples’ group counselling session. Angela, another troubled participant in this group, wonders why their marriage has become so lopsided, so twisted. But when Mary leaves Dan, he undergoes a beautiful transformation. What will happen when she returns? Director and scriptwriter Landreth has created an insightful and daring look at the ways individuals evolve, adapt and break.
During the World Wide Short Film Festival, Landreth will take part in the session “Inside a Composer’s Mind” on June 17 from 3 to 4:40 pm, providing a unique glimpse into a film composer’s world: the tools of the trade, the time and resources needed, and making do with music budgets.
The Spine was produced by the National Film Board of Canada in association with Copperheart Animation and C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures, with the creative participation of Autodesk Canada CO. and Seneca College School of Communication Arts. Annecy International Animated Film Festival is wholly dedicated to animation and is the biggest and most recognized event of its kind in the world, often being referred to as the Cannes of animation.
Veteran animator Michèle Cournoyer has a distinguished track record of creating works that explore powerful issues from a woman’s point of view. With the world premiere of Robes of War/Robe de guerre, Cournoyer portrays a woman whose entire being has been invaded by war, offering a stark depiction of victimization metamorphasizing into a drive for vengeance.
The WSFF is also presenting Ryan Larkin’s final film, Spare Change. The subject of Landreth’s film Ryan and an Oscar-nominated animator in his own right, Larkin had been reduced to panhandling to make ends meet when fellow animator Chris Landreth brought his life and work back into the light. With the success of Ryan, Larkin was inspired to begin work on what would be his final film. Co-directed by Laurie Gordon, who completed the film after Larkin’s death, Spare Change blends gritty scenes of begging on Montreal’s Boulevard Saint-Laurent with phantasmagorical visions of heaven and hell, and is co-produced by the NFB and MusiVision.
The ultimate film for a rainy day, David Coquard Dassault’s Rains/L’ondée makes its Toronto premiere, showing how a sudden downpour offers a moment’s respite in the hectic life of a big city.
The festival will also feature the Ontario premieres of two short works from the NFB’s Hothouse program for emerging animators: Brandon Blommaert’s Batmilk in official selection and Philip Eddolls’ Git Gob as part of the festival’s specialty program.