The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and France Télévisions join forces to launch a new application: The Cancer of Time, available for free in the App Store and the Google Play Store, and compatible with almost all types of smartphones. The application is the result of their first collaboration and, with its innovative narrative form, removes barriers between genres and paves the way for other hybrid art projects.

When did we become unable to do nothing? How much time do we spend without looking at our emails on our phones? Can we share a meal with family or friends without checking our messages? These questions are at the heart of a very modern phenomenon: the inability to do nothing, the avoidance of idleness. Today, we are increasingly connected: media sync to our personality and our behaviour more than ever before. They make us dependent. The tools that enable us to ward off boredom are magnified before boredom even has a chance to manifest itself.

This interactive mobile application makes us reconsider our chronic inability to do nothing. Through a philosophical and playful tale, the application leads us on the fringes of game and animation. With its characters and locations, the visuals, sound design and lively aesthetics are akin to animation film. The aim, however, must necessarily follow the gesture—a gesture that is sometimes minimal, slow, and even passive. In the end, we have nothing to lose except time... and nothing to gain except to start thinking about ways to use it.

In The Cancer of Time, the user accompanies a simple yet endearing character after a medical examination wherein he is thought to be afflicted by the evil of the century: the cancer of time. We then follow him in various situations, whether in the doctor’s waiting room, in a car stuck in traffic, or during a family meal.

The way the topic is handled is in fact very paradoxical: we use an application to think about how to respond to slowness and non-productivity, that is, how to praise wasting time... on a device that typically devours all of it.

Behind The Cancer of Time is a team of members from various creative environments that address interactive narrative forms in different ways: Ko-op Mode (a collective of videogame artists that explores the intersection between music, visual, and experimental design), Dominic Turmel (an independent interactive media writer and designer), Jean-François Nadeau (a versatile actor-creator), and Stéfan Boucher (a jack-of-all-trades sound designer). This invitation to waste time was incubated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in collaboration with the Open Documentary Lab, and is intended as a hybridisation of genres.

What if, in our perpetual quest to eschew boredom, we lose something? Idle time can be a space to reflect, to challenge oneself, and to question given ideas and the established order. It is time to reclaim one’s space—individually and collectively.


  Short Synopsis

Short Synopsis

How much time do we spend without looking at our emails on our phones? What do we do when we are not productive? Can we share a meal with family or friends without checking our messages? Are we able to stop looking at our phones at any given moment? These questions are at the heart of a very modern phenomenon: the inability to do nothing, the avoidance of idleness. The way the topic is handled is paradoxical: we use an application to think about how to respond to slowness and non-productivity, that is, how to praise wasting time... on a device that typically devours all of it. This playful, interactive tale, a true invitation to idleness, was incubated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in collaboration with the Open Documentary Lab, and is intended as a hybridisation of genres, on the fringes of game, application and animation.


(Click picture for biography and high-resolution photo.)

Dominic Turmel

Art director, designer and independent writer, Dominic Turmel has worked in interactive media for nearly 20 years. He left his mark on a multitude of web and mobile projects for the National Film Board of Canada, TV5, Radio-Canada, Télé-Québec and ARTV, amongst others.

His recent achievements include Burgundy Jazz, a multiplatform documentary on the history of jazz in Montreal, and Des maux illisibles, an award-winning web project on the alarming rate of illiteracy in Quebec. He is also behind the revamping of Radio-Canada’s music portal ( as well as the design and illustrations of the popular web series Les chroniques d’une mère indigne.

Dominic Turmel has collaborated with AATOAA and Arcade Fire, Daniel Langlois, Pierre Lapointe, Astral Media, the Canadian Centre for Architecture and many others. His work has been awarded numerous Boomerang, Graphika, Gemini, and Numix FWA prizes.

He is co-founder of the now defunct design studio BonGolem, and has been producer and host of several independent radio stations in Montreal and Quebec City for over 15 years.

High-resolution photo

KO-OP Mode

KO-OP Mode is an artist-owned video game collective that focuses on bridging the gap between music, visuals, and experimental design. Founded in 2012, the studio has a unique operating process thanks to its focus on empowering artists through a cooperative model, allowing them to push the boundaries of the field in unexpected ways. KO-OP and its artists have been featured around the world with their workshops, talks, and renowned and offbeat games.

High-resolution photo

Jean-François Nadeau

Jean-François Nadeau, a graduate of communications (UQAM, 1994-98) and acting (Conservatoire d’art dramatique de Montréal, 1999-2002) known for his versatility, has always assigned a very important place to writing. He has written a number of plays for the stage, including P.R.O.U.N (La Petite Licorne, 2004-05), Sac à sacs (Petit Théâtre du Nord, 2009), Le Chaperon est-il si rouge que ça? (Espace Libre, 2012) and Aval e (Écuries, 2014). In television, he was a scriptwriter for Tactik (Vivavision-Télé-Québec), Les étoiles de Fred (Trio orange/Yoopa) and Dieu Merci (3.2.1/TVA). In cinema, he was part of the founding team of six videographers behind the Kino movement in 1999-2000 and, in 2006, he won the audience choice award as part of SODEQ’s Cours écrire ton court contest. He is currently developing a feature film project with director Henry Bernadet, under the aegis of Micro-Scope. Besides that, he has been an LNI player since 2002, a Zapartiste since 2011, and has published his first poetry/spoken word collection in 2013 (Tungstène de bile), at the Éditions de l’Écrou. This first book will be brought to the stage at the Centre du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui in March and April 2015.

High-resolution photo

Stéfan Boucher

Stéfan Boucher became a composer following a brief and unsuccessful stay in a soul-crushing university. He won a Félix with Basta in 1997 for Alternative Album of the Year, and then moved on to the profession of sound designer. He has worked for film, theatre, and children’s television, but lately has dedicated more of his time to contemporary dance, contributing to Frédéric Gravel and Dave St-Pierre’s stage antics. He also worked on circus arts with Cirque Éloize (Cirkopolis) and collaborated with the NFB for the interactive application The Cancer of Time. It is said of him that he is prolific, noisy, and sleeps very little.


Hugues Sweeney

After several years of twisting letters as well as ideas by studying philosophy, literature and death metal, Hugues Sweeney became interested in stories as much as the opportunities that technology offers to tell them. First in new media at Radio-Canada, then head of Bande à part and Espace musique, he joined the National Film Board of Canada in 2009 as executive producer dedicated to interactive works. Continuing experimentation both in the grammar of interaction, in sound creation or in generative art, projects from the interactive studio of the NFB have received numerous international awards including SXSW, Japan Media Arts, Boomerang, FIPA d'or and nominations for the Digital Emmy, IDFA, Gemini or the Gémeaux.






Design and Creative Direction Dominic Turmel
Design, Illustration and Development Saleem Dabbous, Samuel Boucher, Nick Rudzicz and Bronson Zgeb (KO-OP Mode)
Design and Copywriting Jean-François Nadeau
Design and Music Stéfan Boucher
French Adaptation Véronique Ovaldé
English Adaptation Emmanuel Schwartz
Narration Jean-François Nadeau, Madeleine Péloquin, Brett Watson et Gitanjali Jain


Sarah Wolozin
William Uricchio
Scot Osterweil
Sonny Sidhu
Philip Tan
Konstantin Mitgutsch


National Film Board of Canada

Executive Producer Hugues Sweeney
Head of Production Marie-Pier Gauthier
Technologist Martin Viau
Editorial Manager Valérie Darveau
Administrator Marie-Andrée Bonneau
Production Coordinators Dominique Brunet, Caroline Fournier and Perrine Bral
Clerk, Interactive Productions Angel Carpio
Marketing Manager Jenny Thibault
Assisted by Karine Sévigny
Information Technology Sergiu Raul Suciu
Social Media Julie Matlin, Emilie Nguyen Ngoc, Jovana Jankovic and Kathryn Ruscito
Press Relations Marie-Claude Lamoureux    

France télévisions Nouvelles écritures

Boris Razon, Voyelle Acker and Cécile Deyon

Production Administrator Sandrine Miguirian
Communication Officer Antoine Allard
Technical Advisor Emmanuel Souillat


Charles Trahan
Dominique Willieme
Franck Desvernes
Wen Zang
Stephen Ascher 
Philippe Santerre
G.P. Lackey
Ulysse Korolitsky

Press Relations

‎Pat Dillon-Moore

Press Review

Coming soon.

About the NFB

Beginning May 2, 2014, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) marks 75 years of innovation and leadership in film and interactive media. The NFB is one of the world’s leading digital content hubs, creating groundbreaking interactive documentaries and animation, mobile content, installations and participatory experiences. NFB interactive productions and digital platforms have won 100 awards, including 10 Webbys. To access acclaimed NFB content, visit or download its apps for smartphones, tablets and connected TV.

About France télévisions Nouvelles écritures

Three years after its creation, the direction of new writing and transmedia of France Télévisions opens a new chapter in its history.
With 90 online programs, 45 ongoing projects, almost 100 hours of available video, more than 400,000 dedicated players, and 27 awards, its strategy is now divided into three areas:
1- Develop large collective narratives or public service campaigns with France Télévisions channels.
2- Introduce original audio-visual works by uncovering new and unknown paths, including fiction through "Studio 4", documentaries through "Infracourts", or rerouted news on social networks.
3- Push narrative research ever further by integrating game and its inner workings into narration, by extending creation to networks and encouraging participation, and, especially, by grounding more and more programs in real life—outside and on the streets. Binaural recording and Oculus head-mounted displays have made it possible for new forms of immersive experiences and installations to take place. Spaces can now be reinvented through apps and augmented reality. Why? To ultimately change our perception of the world and to endow it with additional senses or dimensions, which, in turn, can change us. There are infinite creative horizons opening on the fringes of life and its representations. We scan these horizons with great exhilaration.

Social Media (NFB)