Fostering Genius: The Best of the National Film Board of Canada - Thur. May 8th - 8PM

Oddball Films and curator Kat Shuchter present Fostering Genius: The Best of the National Film Board of Canada, with a program of exquisite and award-winning short films, animation and experimental works, all from the NFB. In honor of the 75th Anniversary of the NFB and what would have been the 100th birthday of Norman McLaren; we have this hand-picked selection of clever, hypnotic, mind-blowing, and often politically progressive work of some of the best innovators Canadian cinema has to offer.  The very coolest of the cool, George Kaczender's The Game (1966) is the ultra-hip coming of age tale of teens obsessed with guns, garage rock, girls and (sun)glasses. The brilliant experimental animator and director of the National Film Board of Canada,  Norman McLaren gives us two examples of his boundless wit and creativity: A Chairy Tale (1957) with a score by Ravi Shankar and Short and Suite (1960) dazzling animation painted directly onto film.  From Peter Foldes, there is the eery and eye-popping early computer animation Hunger/La Faim (1973).  Arthur Lipsett's experimental collage A Trip Down Memory Lane (1965) pieces together 50 years worth of newsreels and found sound to capture what he saw as the rise of a technocracy.  Evelyn Lambart's delightful cut-out animation Fine Feathers (1968) features birds that trade their feathers for foliage. With more cut-out creativity from Grant Munro and Gerald Potterton in the stylish mid-century My Financial Career (1962) based on Stephen Leacock's witty essay. Come early to catch the down and dirty biopic of teen idol Paul Anka, Lonely Boy (1962) and expect extra surprises, but bring your own poutine. Everything will be screened on 16mm film from the archive.

Date: Thursday, May 8th, 2014 at 8:00pm
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating RSVP to or (415) 558-8117


The Game (Dir. George Kaczender, B+W, 1966)
This great, lost coming-of-age story filmed in Montreal in 1965 is the very definition of cool- sort of a short , artier Quadrophenia (though no Sting sightings).  They’re high school punks – they play rock music on the beach and in the garage. They stay up late and have sex in cars. They pick on each other and talk about girls.  The super cool garage music written and performed for the film- a must see!!  
Hunger/ La Faim (Color, 1973)
At an extremely rapid pace, images dissolve, move, morph and/or reappear into things or objects that become more and more exaggerated and absurd in this witty and disturbing cartoon by Hungarian director Peter Foldes. One of the first computer-generated films, this Jury Prize winner at the Cannes Film Festival and Academy Award Nominee is a satire focusing on the self-indulgence that plagues our ‘hungry’ world, and depicts a man as he continues to eat, and eat, and eat! 

Two from Norman McLaren!

A Chairy Tale (B+W, 1957)
A young man seeks a place to sit while reading, a simple enough problem with an equally simple solution: there is an empty chair conveniently nearby.  Yet, when the man attempts to sit, he finds himself floor-bound; the chair has eluded him.  He tries again, and again the chair moves.  The most basic of actions turns into an all-out battle of wills, chair and boy tumbling in a frenzied blur across the floor.   Directed by experimental filmmaker Norman McLaren, with a sitar score by the imminent Ravi Shankar punctuating the comically exaggerated physical movements, this Buster Keaton-like ballet won British Film Academy and Venice International Film Festival awards when it came out in 1957. 

Short and Suite (Color, 1960) 

Just as the title describes, this film by National Film Board of Canada founder and animation master Norman McLaren is both short and sweet. Various lines, shapes, andcolors have been scratched into and painted onto the film’s surface, synched to music and sounds to dance around the screen. Made without a camera by directly painting on the film surface.

A Trip Down Memory Lane (B+W, 1965)
The brilliant and troubled Arthur Lipsett created this experimental montage with over 50 years worth of found sound and newsreel footage with everything from beauty pageants to military propaganda to Richard Nixon.  The jarring juxtaposition of images create a landscape of the rising technocracy that has only escalated in the decades since.  Lipsett wrote about the themes of the film “as science grows, religious belief seems to have diminished... The new machines (of every description) are now invested with spiritual qualities. They have become ritualistic implements.

Fine Feathers (Color, 1968)
A charming cut out animation from Norman McLaren's frequent collaborator Evelyn Lambart.  Two birds try to show each other up by trading their feathers for foliage and both end up paying the consequences when the wind ruffles their leaves.

My Financial Career (Color, 1962)
A wry and stylish retelling of Stephen Leacock's essay, directed by Gerald Potterton with fabulous mid-century cut-out animation by the great Grant Munro. A man tries his best to start a bank account only to get so overwhelmed by the institution, he bungles the whole transaction.

Come Early (7:45) for:

Lonely Boy (B+W, 1962, Wolf Koenig and Roman Kroitor) 
You might think you don’t want to see a documentary about Paul Anka but that's only because you don’t know LONELY BOY. A gritty cinéma vérité, this rock doc remains influential. Directors Wolf Koenig and Roman Kroitor know when to cut and when to linger for the sharpest effect and strip the Canadian pop idol and would- be Vegas headliner down to his tighty-whities literally and figuratively. Anka is astonishingly frank about both his ambition and rigorous self-reinvention (he would go on to write the words to My Way after all). Not yet out of his teens, we see him issuing commands to an orchestra of men twice his age with his special brand of confidence and charming his teeny-bopper fans with aplomb. An inspiration for Privilege, Peter Watkins’s 1967 rock and roll dystopia flick, Lonely Boy has retained much of its audacious power.

About the National Film Board of Canada
Founded in 1939 under the aegis of Scotsman John Grierson, pioneering theorist and practitioner of the documentary form, the National Film Board was initially put in the service of war propaganda. Two years later, the addition to its ranks of Grierson's countryman Norman McLaren would instigate the NFB's second elemental thrust: technically adventurous, audaciously whimsical animation. These two interwoven threads have permeated the Film Board's productions ever since, giving us formally innovative works that nonetheless edify. NFB films are fun, entertaining, and favor the dramatic over the didactic.

Curator’s Biography
Kat Shuchter is a graduate of UC Berkeley in Film Studies. She is a filmmaker, multi-media artist and esoteric film hoarder.  She has helped program shows at the PFA, The Nuart and Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater and was crowned “Found Footage Queen” of Los Angeles, 2009. She has curated over 100 programs for Oddball over the last 3 years.

About Oddball Films
Oddball films is the film component of Oddball Film+Video, a stock footage company providing offbeat and unusual film footage for feature films like Milk and Behind the Candelabra, documentaries like I Am Divine, television programs like Mythbusters, clips for Boing Boing and web projects around the world.
Our films are almost exclusively drawn from our collection of over 50,000 16mm prints of animation, commercials, educational films, feature films, movie trailers, medical, industrial military, news out-takes and every genre in between. We’re actively working to present rarely screened genres of cinema as well as avant-garde and ethno-cultural documentaries, which expand the boundaries of cinema. Oddball Films is the largest film archive in Northern California and one of the most unusual private collections in the US. We invite you to join us in our weekly offerings of offbeat cinema.