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When the Day Breaks

Year: 1999
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 10 min
Director: Wendy Tilby, Amanda Forbis
Producer: David Verrall, Barrie McLean
Editor: Wendy Tilby, Amanda Forbis
Animation: Wendy Tilby, Amanda Forbis
Sound: Shelley Craig, Marie-Claude Gagné, Andy Malcolm, Jean Vialard, Geoffrey Mitchell, Gaëtan Pilon
Music: Judith Gruber-Stitzer
Production Company: National Film Board of Canada
With deft humour and finely rendered detail, When the Day Breaks illuminates the links which connect our urban lives, while evoking the promise and fragility of a new day. The film portrays city life as lonely and anonymous: a pig named Ruby witnesses the accidental death of a stranger – a chicken she passed on the street just moments earlier – and seeks affirmation in the city around her. She eventually finds it in surprising places. The transcendent moment occurs after documents, photographs and other debris of Chickenman’s life flash by in a virtuoso montage.

The irony of the story is matched by the precisely rendered animal heads on the protagonists’ hyperrealistic human bodies. Using pencil and paint on photocopies to achieve a textured look reminiscent of a lithograph or a flickering newsreel, co-directors Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis took four years to complete When the Day Breaks. One of the best examples of recent animation from the National Film Board, this highly popular film won a seemingly endless number of international awards, including the Palme d’Or at the Festival de Cannes, the Grand Prix at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, and the Genie Award for Best Animated Short. It was also nominated for an Academy Award® for Animated Short Film.

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