September 9, 2006
As part of the Toronto International Film Festival, last night at the Isabel Bader Theatre the National Film Board of Canada showcased a retrospective of Norman McLaren's best-loved short films, including Neighbours, Pas de deux, Hen Hop, and A Chairy Tale. It was the North American premiere of these newly-restored films, and a celebration of 65 years of animation at the NFB animation studio. The screening, followed by a reception at the Windsor Arms Hotel, was attended by the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, the Governor-General of Canada, and her husband Jean-Daniel Lafond. Also in attendance were Jacques Bensimon, the Government Film Commissioner and chairperson at the NFB, and Piers Handling, director and CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival Group.
The screening coincided with a release of McLaren's works on a 7-disc DVD boxed set entitled Norman McLaren: The Master's Edition. All material therein has been restored to its original quality by NFB professionals. The NFB plans to tour the 11 films screened last night internationally. At the screening, the Governor-General said: "I believe that culture should always be viewed in the broadest sense possible," and touted McLaren as Canada's "very own film-making genius," adding that McLaren was "a pioneer of sound" who "re-defined the concepts of sound and image in film." Her husband added: "I know how important film-makers are to Canadians," and admonished the NFB to continue funding for artists in a way that frees them from "mercantilist restrictions."
Above: The Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada, at the Windsor Arms Hotel
Above: Two of McLaren's contemporaries at the NFB animation studio. The woman on the right starred in Neighbours.
The evening was a success, with a distinctly international crowd of artists, press, and politicians gathering to commemorate one of Canada's national treasures. And in a nearby ante-room, director Paul Anderson and his crew celebrated the upcoming film adaptation of a little game we like to call Castlevania...Over appetizers, Anderson mentioned a possible May 2008 release date for his adaptation of the popular game franchise, as well as his intent to make "an epic romance," that would be more endearing to a female audience. The small gathering featured character art by Yoshitaka Amano.
Above: The Windsor Arms Hotel foyer, and entry to the Norman McLaren reception.