Any reason to celebrate the National Film Board of Canada is a good one; the NFB is a model for government-funded arts organizations, both in the freedom granted its filmmakers and its long string of successes. In this case the 75th anniversary of the NFB has led Les Musees de la civilization in Québec City, Canada, to mount “Frame x Frame: Animated Film at the NFB.” The show not only highlights the NFB and its filmmakers, but puts both in the context of the history of animation.
The exhibit begins with an introduction on the development of the animated film, including examples by Émile Cohl, Winsor McCay, and others, then follows with five thematic sections: social history, comedy, musicals, fantasy, and experimental work.
Historical displays include a Felix the Cat figurine used in early television experiments to the leather slippers Norman McLaren wore for decades while working at the NFB. McLaren’s centenary fell earlier this year and received its own commemoration. Also featured are stop motion models from animated films, drawings, and technical tools used by NFB filmmakers such as Caroline Leaf, Co Hoedeman, and Patrick Bouchard.
There are, of course, notable NFB films being shown continuously, with over 250 films and film excerpts represented. Visitors can produce their own stop motion animated film with the provided props and miniature sets. There is even the opportunity to see animators at work—in a large glass cage, no less—thanks to a residency program. Francis Desharnais is in residence in July, followed by Janet Perlman in mid-to-late August. In the fall of 2014, the museum will host Theodore Ushev, followed by Dale Hayward and Sylvie Trouvé in March 2015. Claude Cloutier (June) and Patrick Bouchard (August) will conclude the residencies in 2015.
“Frame x Frame: Animaed Film at the NFB” runs until August 23, 2015.