Boat People

An animated short film produced by The National Film Board of Canada 2023

As a child in Vietnam, Thao’s mother often rescued ants from bowls of sugar water. Years later they would return the favour. Boat People is an animated documentary that uses a striking metaphor to trace one family’s flight across the turbulent waters of history.

Produced by

The National Film Board of Canada 2023

Written by

Thao Lam & Kjell Boersma

Directed by

Kjell Boersma & Thao Lam


  • Grand Jury Prize, Animated Short Film. — Calgary International Animation Festival
  • Best Canadian Animation Short. — Vancouver Asian Film Festival
  • 2023 Jury Winner for Best Animated Short and Audience Award for Animated Short. — New Orleans Film Festival
  • Milos Stehlik Global Impact Award Winner. — Chicago International Children’s Film Festival
  • Audience Award Best Animated Short — Coronado Island Film Festival
  • Winner of Diversity Award. — Spark Animation Festival and Festival


  • Stuttgart TrickFilm Animation Film Festival, April 2023
  • Sommets du cinéma d’animation, May 2023
  • Animator International Animation Festival, June 2023
  • Palm Springs International Short Film Festival, June 2023
  • Cinefest Sudbury, September 2023
  • Ottawa International Animation Festival, September 2023
  • Calgary International Film Festival, September 2023
  • London BFI International Film Festival, October 2023
  • Loft Film Festival, October 2023
  • Newport Beach Film Festival, October 2023
  • ReelWorld Film Festival, November 2023
  • Vancouver Asian Film Festival, November 2023
  • New Orleans Film Festival, November 2023
  • Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, November 2023
  • Doc NYC, November 2023
  • Coronado Island Film Festival, November 2023
  • Spark Animation Festival, November 2023
  • Manchester Animation Festival, November 2023
  • Clermont Ferrand International Short Film Festival, February 2024
  • Seattle Children’s Film Festival, February 2024
  • Anima Cartoon and Animated Film Festival, February 2024
  • Carrousel International Short Film Festival, March 2024
  • Canadian Film Fest, March 2024
  • Cleveland International Film Festival, April 2024
  • Milwaukee Film Festival, April 2024
  • San Francisco International Film Festival, April 2024
  • Fascination Film Festival, May 2024
  • Festival International de Cinema d’ Animation de Meknes, May 2024
  • Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, May 2024

Contact Thao Lam

Illuminate stories with vibrant artwork, turning narratives into visual wonders. Let's bring your tales to life—reach out for unique illustrations!