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New NFB short by Matthew Rankin to premiere at Cannes International Critics’ Week

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THE TESLA WORLD LIGHT, a new animated film by multi-genre director Matthew Rankin (Cattle Call, Hydro-Lévesque, Tabula Rasa), is to have its world premiere at the 56th International Critics’ Week, a parallel section of the Cannes Film Festival organized by the French Syndicate of Film Critics.

Produced by Julie Roy at the National Film Board of Canada and described as “A dazzling cinematic experience designed for the big screen” in which renowned inventor Nikola Tesla “makes one last appeal to J.P. Morgan, his onetime benefactor”, the film is set in New York in the early 20th century and takes its inspiration from real events. With roots in both documentary filmmaking and the avant-garde, the film also boasts sound design by  Sacha A. Ratcliffe. The film is Rankin’s second to be made at the NFB, following 2015’s The Radical Expeditions of Walter Boudreau.

I’m interested in failed 20th Century utopias. We live now in the aftermath of these failures and that’s why, in my opinion, we’re now living in such an anti-utopian age. I see Tesla’s failure as one of the most beautiful and most tragic in the history of human endeavour. He was an idealistic scientist. He was sincerely convinced that his inventions were going to save the world and liberate the human race and he was utterly annihilated by the capitalist powers of his day. I found the image of Tesla, alone and unbalanced in his room, with his birds and his rejected ideas, to be just extremely touching.
There are times in life when failure becomes so huge, so monumental, that it becomes somehow majestic and grandiose; sublime failure is my greatest life goal.

-Matthew Rankin, director, THE TESLA WORLD LIGHT

Presently based in Montreal and originally hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Rankin’s work often combines factual elements with an experimental approach. His recent work Mynarski Death Plummet (2014) was supported by the NFB French Program’s ACIC (Aide au cinéma indépendant – Canada) and went on to receive the “Off-Limits” Award at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in 2015.

THE TESLA WORLD LIGHT (©2017 National Film Board of Canada)

The selection of Matthew Rankin’s film for Cannes International Critics’ Week crowns an illustrious year for the NFB’s French Animation Studio, which began with Blind Vaysha being selected to screen at Berlin and continued with wins of the two most prestigious awards at Annecy—namely, the Cristal (for The Head Vanishes) and the Jury Award (for Blind Vaysha)—not to mention the Grand Prize at the Ottawa International Animation Festival (for I Like Girls) and an Oscar nomination for Blind Vaysha. A big round of applause for the filmmakers and for the entire studio team!

– Claude Joli-Coeur, Government Film Commissioner and NFB Chairperson

Producing Matthew Rankin’s film was an extremely enriching experience! Matthew is talented, versatile, creative, cultivated, and a team player, and I was greatly impressed with his approach to Nikola Tesla, an important historical figure. He casts the scientist in a whole new light by shooting in 16 mm and employing a range of hand-crafted animation techniques, from pixilation to puppet animation to ink on film—all of it in the NFB’s purest auteur-animation tradition.

– Julie Roy, Executive Producer, French Animation Studio, NFB

Rankin’s film will be one of 10 short films competing at International Critics’ Week, which takes place May 18 to 26, 2017.

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