Monthly Archives: December 2015

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays And See You All Back Here In 2016!

It’s been a fantastic year for Short Film Fan in 2015. This was the first full year of posted articles for the site. From January to December, Short Film Fan had the pleasure in publishing a wealth of fascinating filmmaker interviews, film reviews and general news items about short films in Canada. It was enjoyable to meet, correspond with and interview so many people directly involved with these films. New colleagues and friends have been made as a result of these articles.

Short Film Fan has also increased its subscriber base from last year! It’s pleasing to know that readers liked the site so much at that they took out full subscriptions so as to not miss out on any future posts. Hope to see you continue your subscriptions and that you’ll encourage your friends and colleagues to subscribe, as well.

As well, Short Film Fan experimented with guest blog posts. It was an excellent opportunity to receive and share perspectives about Canadian short films from others. Katy Swailes was our guest blogger this year and we hope that she’ll return next year with more well-written articles. Short Film Fan encourages other filmmakers, actors, marketers (not to mention other Canadian short film fans) to contribute a guest post to the site.

Short Film Fan also increased its presence on social media this year. In the fall, a Facebook page was launched and, just recently, a Google Plus page has entered into the mix. These pages will act as supplemental places to have conversations about the posts and Canadian shorts, in general.

As for 2016, Short Film Fan will keep bringing you more quality articles along with some experiments thrown in now and then. With the new Google Plus page, Short Film Fan may even try its hand at making and publishing ‘short films’ made via smartphone technology!

A big ‘thank-you’ goes out to everyone who was involved with Short Film Fan this year. There are too many names to be mentioned here. But, to everyone who agreed to be interviewed for articles, contributed guest posts, shared your short for a review, featured the site on your social media pages or simply sent a message in appreciation of what’s been written, THANK YOU VERY MUCH for supporting Short Film Fan!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all the best to you and your family in 2016!

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Enjoy A Nostalgic, Stress-Free Christmas With NFB’s ‘Christmas Cracker’

Each December, Christmas is celebrated by many people in their own way. For the most part, these celebrations include attending parties, buying gifts, visiting friends and family, or participating in a church service. For those adults who are nostalgic, they will think back to Christmases from their childhoods. Pleasant memories surface of receiving unique gifts or partaking in family dinner traditions. When it comes to the present, however, the desire to experience a ‘perfect’ Christmas tends to cause stress and frustration in many adults.

The 1963 NFB animated short Christmas Cracker is a fascinating look at Christmas from childhood and adult perspectives. Directed by Jeff Hale, Norman McLaren, Grant Munro and Gerald Potterton, this nine minute animated  film is made up of three smaller shorts: two paper cut-out dolls dance to “Jingle Bells”,  a group of wind-up toys clown around with each other, and a man attempts to find the best star to adorn the top of his Christmas tree. Watch the short below:

 

Christmas Cracker was fun and relaxing to watch. The dancing cut-outs had a child-like creativity and innocence to it. The wind-up toys were reminders of Christmas toys from simpler times, especially the days before electronic toys came on the scene. The man’s quest for a Christmas tree star could be viewed as a commentary on how hard we try to make our Christmas celebrations flawless and that it’s OK if things don’t turn out exactly how we want them to.

The title is perhaps a nod to Christmas crackers that are a traditional game in Canadian and other Commonwealth countries. Christmas crackers look like large wrapped candies and are constructed with cardboard paper tubes covered with coloured paper. Two people pull at the cracker until it snaps open, revealing the contents inside such as candies or small toys. In a way, watching the short was like opening a Christmas cracker with these three charming animated stories appearing on the screen for everyone to delight in.

Christmas Cracker has a warm feeling to it with messages that still resonate since it was made over 50 years ago. Through its animation, pace and humour, it has the ability to lower stress levels and bring you back to Christmases of days gone by.  If it isn’t already a classic Canadian Christmas cartoon short, it should be. Enjoy!

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Guest Post: Katy Swailes Reviews Impactful Short ‘More than Two Hours’

Have you ever wondered what types of short films catch the eye of Canadian filmmakers? When they’re not busy making a short film, which ones are they watching? This week’s guest post by Katy Swailes should shed some light on these questions. Katy was recently invited to screen the short films to be shown at the Jayu Human Rights Film Festival, which runs from December 10th to the 13th in Toronto. One narrative short is screening at the festival, and Katy has kindly shared her exclusive review with Short Film Fan.

 

More than Two Hours – a short film with big impact

The short film form often lends itself to the funny, the satirical, and the downright absurd. But once in a while a narrative film comes along with a tough story to tell—and a big issue to tackle—and ventures to do it in fifteen minutes or less.

Bishtar az do saat (More than Two Hours) is one of those films. From Iranian director Ali Asgari, the Persian-language film follows a nameless young couple as they drive around Tehran at 3 a.m., looking for a hospital that will treat the young woman (Shahrzad Ghasemi). They’ve committed the crime of premarital sex—punishable in Iran by lashes, imprisonment, or worse—and the woman requires surgery to stop excessive bleeding. But without proof of marriage, no hospital will admit her; so they find themselves back in the car, desperate and alone.

Beautifully executed by Asgari, the film is a slice of Iranian life that paints a tragic picture of a complex issue. Pre-marital sex is on the rise in Iran, where more than half of the population is under the age of the 35, and young adults are increasingly choosing to delay marriage. In More than Two Hours, lead actors Ghasemi and Taha Mohammadi (who co-wrote the screenplay with Asgari) are entirely believable as the young couple caught in the tension between hardline policies, family pressure, and a new wave of youth rebellion. Strained exchanges and nuanced looks, combined with the careful subtleties of the dialogue, draw you into the characters’ shared ordeal, and offer insight into their individual conflicts.

The story moves primarily between two settings—from the quiet intimacy of the car, to the cold starkness of hospital rooms, where the woman is barred from a potentially life-saving operation because she is unwed. In one such scene, the young man argues with the hospital clerk about the woman’s lack of options, while the woman sits, slightly out of focus, silent in the background. She has lost her virginity and her parents must know, the female clerk insists, matter-of-factly. The message is clear—decisions about her body are not hers to make. She has no voice in this discussion.

Shahrzad Ghasemi and Taha Mohammadi from a scene in More than Two Hours (photo courtesy of Katy Swailes)
Shahrzad Ghasemi and Taha Mohammadi in a scene from ‘More than Two Hours’ (photo courtesy of Katy Swailes)

The tension comes to a head in the final moments of the film. Confined to the car, the couple has exhausted all options and face the reality of having to tell her parents. In an especially emotional and powerful moment, the young woman says something most young girls have uttered, at least once or twice: “My father will kill me!”

“It’s better than dying like this,” her boyfriend fires back, underlining the literalness of her comment, and the grave consequences for women when female virginity is considered a measure of worth.

The ending is all the more heartbreaking—and affecting—in its utter lack of drama. It’s a reminder that this small story about two young Iranians represents thousands more, nameless, silently slipping away into the night.

More than Two Hours premiered at Cannes in 2013 where it competed for the Palm d’Or for Best Short Film. The film has gone on to receive more than 20 awards and has played at festivals around the world. Audiences in Toronto can see it this Saturday, December 12, as part of the Jayu Human Rights Film Festival at Bloor Cinema. The festival opens Thursday on International Human Rights Day. Schedule and tickets at Jayu.ca

 

Katy Swailes is an independent filmmaker and an associate producer with CBC Radio. Follow her on Twitter @katyswailes.

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