George Ungar - The Champagne Safari; The Wanderer

  • October 12, 8:00pm

George Ungar's career has seen him working as an animator, director, writer and producer. His acclaimed feature-length documentary, The Champagne Safari (1995) played at festivals around the world, and garnered several prestigious awards - including a Genie Award for best feature-length documentary.  The Champagne Safari, which George directed and produced, was hailed as "brilliant" by France's Nouvel Observateur and "inspired and fascinating" by the LA Times (Los Angeles).   

Originally trained as a visual artist, George served as an animator on the Hollywood cult classic Heavy Metal (1981) and on the NFB production Paradise (1984), which was nominated for an Oscar.   

In 1988, George completed the NFB release L'Étranger - based on a short story by Michel Tremblay - which he directed, animated and produced and won the Jury Prize at the Montreal World Film Festival (1988).  L'Étranger was also long-listed for consideration in the Short Animation category of the 1988 Academy Awards.

After serving as a writer on Heavy Metal 2000 (sequel to the previous) he began developing two films: Are You Sure You're Doing the Wrong Thing?  a feature-documentary on Canadian poetry and My Life in Cartoons, his first live-action experimental drama.  George's NFB release Being Ben, a 60-second animated short, forms one of the several animated fantasy sequences in My Life in Cartoons. 

George has periodically taught animation at Concordia University, drawn political and humour cartoons for Canadian publications (e.g. Maclean's, Cinema Canada, Canadian Forum), directed TV commercials, made short experimental art films, and has exhibited his drawings and paintings in Canada, the United States and Mexico.


In 1934, mogul Charles Bedaux embarked on an ill-fated journey across Northern Canada. His upper-crust caravan, called "The Champagne Safari," was abandoned and film footage of the journey was lost. Decades later, director George Ungar discovers the film. Using it, he composes this documentary that tracks the wealthy industrialist's life, exploring how his worker-management system left its imprint on the modern world. He also examines Bedaux's Nazi ties, which led to his undoing.

           "A truly amazing story of grand illusions and byzantine treachery."
                         - Chicago Tribune
            " ★  ★  ★   ★  A brilliant illumination of a storied life that is still shrouded in mystery!"
                          - New York Daily News
            " If Charles Bedaux had not been born, F. Scott Fitzgerald would have invented him."
                           - Time Out  NY



This animation short is an adaptation of Michel Tremblay's short story "The Devil and the Mushroom."  A tale of supernatural power, greed and violence, it involves a sinister stranger who single-handedly transforms a quiet village into the scene of a phantasmagoric nightmare.

           "one is manipulated around and through characters with a remarkable dexterity.  At other moments action is frozen into vignettes of significance ... one gasps in admiration at a bravura performance from the director and artist."  -  Ian Lumsden, Head Performing Arts College, Yorkshire UK / review for The Best of World Animation