The sailor who flies to the Oscars!

The sailor who flies to the Oscars!


Since Norman McLaren, Michel Brault or Pierre Perrault, the NFB has never had very good press in Quebec.

If it were up to the small community of Quebec film, the National Film Board would have closed its doors a long time ago. At best, it would have been transformed into a film school or a simple distributor of films advocating “Canadian values”, that is to say films that could be associated with propaganda. However, no company or studio has, to my knowledge, accumulated as many honors as the NFB at the Oscars gala, the annual high mass of international cinema.

A grand total of 77 nominations in the history of the gala, 12 Oscars, including six since 1977 alone, and the Oscar of honor in 1989. Hundreds of awards around the world and 90 Genie awards. Who says better ? Once again this year, the NFB is nominated in Hollywood with the animated film The Flying Sailor, inspired by a real event that defies imagination. In Halifax Harbour, on December 6, 1917, a French freighter carrying 3,000 tons of munitions collided with a Norwegian ship. The explosion destroyed an entire district of the city, 2,000 people lost their lives, 9,000 were seriously injured and 25,000 others were left homeless. strong>

A sailor named Charlie Mayers, who was walking on a dock at the time of the collision, miraculously survived the carnage. Believe it or not, after flying through the air for a distance of two kilometers, Mayers ends up crashing to the ground completely naked, but without a scratch. This is the story recalled by the animated film by Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby, two Calgary filmmakers who have worked together for 28 years. They thus won their third Oscar nomination. A feat without equal.

The Flying Sailor is a film without words of barely eight minutes. In this brief lapse of time, the two women manage to show us in slow motion the incredible adventure of this sailor, roughly in the same time it took him to cover the two kilometers in the air in the middle of an incredible debris storm. The music of Montreal composer and filmmaker Luigi Allemano is almost more “talking” than a commentary.

It's in the magazine The New Yorker owes its nomination to The Flying Sailor. Its broadcast on one of the magazine's digital channels caught the attention of Academy members who decided to nominate it in the animated shorts category. 


Thanks to this nomination, Le matelot volantwill undoubtedly have some success. But not in our cinemas! They rarely present short films. The owners prefer to show advertising films that bring in money, even if the price of admission to theaters is higher and higher. 

All these NFB films are produced with public funds – about 66 million dollars a year – but the opportunities to see them on the big screens are extremely rare. Most NFB films have better distribution abroad than here in Canada. A film like The Flying Sailor would have gone unnoticed without its Hollywood nomination. 

Will The Flying Sailor Fly to a Trophy? I doubt it, but it's worth seeing.

► It can be viewed at< strong> or using the following link:

The sailor who flies to the Oscars!