Joyce Borenstein has a B.A. from McGill University, majoring in piano performance. Influenced by the films of Norman McLaren and Ryan Larkin, she obtained her M.F.A. in film animation from the California Institute of the Arts, studying under Jules Engel and Pat O’Neill. Her student film REVISITED won several important prizes and helped to open the doors of the National Film Board of Canada.
She began free-lancing at the NFB by directing and animating TRAVELLERS’ PALM, a bas relief clay animation film based on the poem by P.K. Page. FIVE BILLION YEARS (NFB) is an animated science film, tracing the evolution of North America from the Big Bang, through the origins of the first living organisms, to the arrival of humans. For THE PLANT (NFB) Joyce was the animation director/co-writer and Thomas Vamos was the director/writer/cameraman. This film combines live-action and animation. It is a parable about how too much kindness can backfire. THE MAN WHO STOLE DREAMS (NFB), created with back-lit clay animation, is a story about one child’s courage and insight, when faced with a thief who has stolen the dreams from the people of her village. The film was directed and animated by Joyce and is based on the children’s book of the same name, published by The Women’s Press.
THE COLOURS OF MY FATHER (NFB and Imageries Ltd.) directed, written and animated by Joyce, is a moving portrait of the Canadian painter Sam Borenstein. At the time of its release, it was celebrated as an original approach to the documentary genre in that it is animated. Animation is used to document memories and feelings. The film has garnered nine international awards including a Genie Award, and an Academy Award Nomination.
ONE DIVIDED BY TWO: KIDS AND DIVORCE (Illumination Magique Inc.) gives voice to children whose parents have divorced. The film has won Best Animation at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Bronze at the Houston International Film Festival and Bronze at the Columbus International Film Festival.
CAT AND BEAR, a picture book for all ages, is written and illustrated by Joyce. It speaks of the powers of friendship, imagination and creativity to overcome the difficulties that we all encounter, whether young or old.
MOTHER'S COLOURS is a companion to COLOURS OF MY FATHER in that it is an homage to Judith, her mother. It is a poetic road trip into the imagination, inspired by Van Gogh’s statement “Art is the raft that will take you safely to shore”.
To date, MOTHER'S COLOURS has won 3 film festivals:
1) Female Eye Film Festival, Toronto, 2012
2) LA Femme Film Festival, Los Angeles, 2012
3) Redemptive Film Festival, Virginia Beach, 2012.
In 2012, Borenstein was the recipient of the Queen's Sixtieth Jubilee Medal.
LIDA MOSER PHOTOGRAPHER is Borenstein's most recent film. It recounts the story of Lida Moser's road trip through Quebec during the summer of 1950, told through photos and animation and is narrated by Moser and Borenstein.