This Remembrance Day in Canada marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. In the early morning hours of April 9, 1917, all four divisions of the Canadian Corps combined with the British XVII Corps to fight against three divisions of the German Sixth Army. The ensuing battle allowed the Allies to secure tactical ground for its eventual defeat of Germany in the Great War. The win at Vimy resulted in heavy losses for Canada: 3,598 soldiers were killed among 10,602 casualties.
Up to this point, many generations of Canadians have seen the images of the First and Second World Wars through black and white photographs and film. A recently-released short film, through a partnership between the Vimy Foundation and the National Film Board, attempts to reconnect Canadians both young and old to the Vimy Ridge Battle story in a unique and colourful way.
Written and produced by Denis McCready, Return to Vimy (2017) is a 9-minute short in which a young Canadian woman visits the Vimy Ridge Memorial in order to find make a charcoal imprint of her great-grandfather’s name. She brings with her to the monument her grandfather’s notebook of diary writings and sketches. The sketches come to life and, with never seen before NFB film archive colorized for the first time, the woman’s grandfather begins to paint a more personal and detailed picture of life in the trenches during the days leading up to the infamous battle. Watch the entire film below:
“Many Canadians today see the First World War through a series of faded black-and-white photos and grainy video footage, disconnected from their modern reality,” said Jeremy Diamond, Executive Director of the Vimy Foundation. “Colourizing these events brings a new focus to our understanding and appreciation of Canada’s giant event during the First World War.
Claude Joli-Coeur, Government Film Commissioner and NFB Chairperson also said, “Return to Vimy combines innovative storytelling and advancements in digital colourization to breathe new life into archival materials and bring this pivotal moment in Canadian history back to life for audiences of all ages. As Canada’s public producer, we’ve been telling our country’s stories and sharing our history since 1939; during times of peace as well as on the frontlines when Canada has been in combat.”
Short Film Fan Review
The spoken word of the diary entries presents the Battle of Vimy Ridge in a more personal and intimate light. The colourization of the old film footage was particularly well done and it adds a new dimension and life to these images of long ago. In fact, the quality of the colour and the restored film makes it look like as if the battle took place in more modern times. The decision to colourize has the potential to cause a certain “cool factor” among those who may consider old black and white imagery as too old fashioned or dull. Altogether, Return to Vimy could very well be instrumental in reigniting an interest among today’s generation of Canadians to learn more about this important part of Canadian history.
Take the time to watch Return to Vimy on this Remembrance Day and let’s pay tribute to those who gave their lives so that we could live our lives in freedom and in peace.
This year’s TIFF is just around the corner and a while back, Short Film Fan listed 29 Canadian short films that will be screened at this year’s festival. For fans of the NFB, three of their animated shorts are also in the mix. This week, the good folks at the NFB provided SFF a chance to screen these shorts before the festival kicks off on September 7th. The following are the films’ teasers and synopses:
Charles, by Dominic Etienne Simard (2017)
Charles knows he’s not like other kids. Every day at school, he’s reminded that his life isn’t like that of his classmates. Every day at home, he sees that he doesn’t receive the same care as other children in his neighbourhood. To dodge the unfairness and taunts, Charles imagines a peaceful haven peopled by good-hearted little frogs.
The Tesla World Light, by Matthew Rankin (2017)
New York, 1905. Visionary inventor Nikola Tesla makes one last appeal to J.P. Morgan, his onetime benefactor. The Telsa World Lightis a tragic fantasy about the father of alternating current, inspired by real events such as the inventor’s run of bad luck as a businessman and his affection for a pet bird, which he loves “like a man loves a woman.” Tesla’s words to the banker form the backdrop of this moving film about the man who blended science and art in his attempts to create the utopia of unlimited energy for all.
Threads, by Torill Kove (2017)
In her latest animated short, Academy Award®-winning director Torill Kove explores the beauty and complexity of parental love, the bonds that we form over time, and the ways in which they stretch and shape us.
Short Film Fan Pick: The Tesla World Light. This was a fascinating documentary-style short about one of the world’s pioneers of electrical engineering. The story itself is enough to encourage others to want to learn more about Tesla’s career struggles and successes. The film was extremely fast-paced and contained a delightful, eye-catching and impressive mix of animation, photography and live action. Those who have seen Rankin’s previous animated short, Mynarski Death Plummet, will see many similarities in styles and pace between the two films. Without a doubt, The Tesla World Light will prove to be a hit with history buffs and lovers of avant-garde cinema alike.
Toronto is home to many film festivals, and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is by far the city’s best known. Film buffs from around the world descend upon TIFF each year to watch and enjoy features and shorts from Canada and around the globe. If you’re lucky, you even get a chance to see some of Hollywood’s finest actors as they make their appearance to TIFF. Over the years, TIFF has become a huge cultural event that puts the film spotlight directly on Canada.
For film fans, and for short film fans in particular, you’ll be pleased to know that you can experience TIFF outside of its annual fall programming by way of TIFF Short Cuts. Shown at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in downtown Toronto, TIFF Short Cuts screens a variety of Canadian and world-wide short films. If you’re unable to visit Toronto for any reason and would like to experience TIFF Short Cuts, have no fear. TIFF’s outreach program, TIFF Film Circuit, makes its appearance in many Canadian communities each year.
Short Film Fan reached out to Laura Good, programmer of TIFF Short Cuts and TIFF Film Circuit, to get a better understanding of what Short Cuts is all about and what is planned for Short Cuts programming this year.
Short Film Fan: What is TIFF Short Cuts?
Laura Good: TIFF Short Cuts is a programming stream dedicated to showcasing short film. The year round Short Cuts series is named as an extension of the Short Cuts section at the Toronto International Film Festival. We host monthly screenings that feature the best of international short film, spanning all genres, sensibilities and styles with a focus on innovation, originality, representation and impact.
Short Cuts allows audiences to sample cinema from all over the globe, in one sitting, and in my opinion, it is some of the most important filmmaking in the world. Short film is a birthplace of innovation and is often the first place we see global trends emerge in terms of both content and form. Since the format is able to be nimble and reactive, it is often the most accurate reflection of our current zeitgeist, as well.
SFF: What is your role with Short Cuts?
LG: I program and host the series, so I get to assemble programs of some of the most incredible short filmmaking in the world and present them to Toronto audiences. There are, generally speaking, far less constraints on short filmmakers than on feature filmmakers, so they have more flexibility and creative freedom. I would argue that the same freedom is inherent to short film programming.
Our recent Misfits program celebrated stories about characters who live beyond the artistic, cultural and existential status quo. It’s a beautiful thing be able to explore something like nonconformity through a diverse pack of female skateboarders who resist the patriarchy (Jennifer Reeder’s Crystal Lake), a contemporary ghost story (Connor Jessup’s Boy), and a woman who transforms into a cloud as a defense mechanism (Mark Katz’ aptly named, People Are Becoming Clouds), all in one screening slot. I feel very lucky to get to showcase such boundary-pushing work from the filmmakers who will determine the future of cinema.
I also bring in short film packages of short format work from fellow festivals and organisations. Past collaborations have included the Sundance Shorts Tour, featuring award winners from their festival, curated by Sundance’s own Mike Plante, and The Prism Prize Top Ten, featuring nominees for the prestigious award, which recognizes excellence in Canadian music videos.
SFF: How long has TIFF Short Cuts been going on for?
LG: The year round Short Cuts series has only been taking place since the opening of TIFF Bell Lightbox in 2010, but it has an old soul. TIFF programmer Magali Simard programmed the series for many years and passed the baton on to me last year.
SFF: Where in Toronto can short film fans check out Short Cuts?
LG: You can check out the Short Cuts series at the aforementioned TIFF Bell Lightbox, year-round home of the Toronto International Film Festival and hub for film lovers from Toronto and around the world. Keep an eye on the schedule here: http://www.tiff.net/#short-cuts
SFF: What kind of short films do you typically screen at Short Cuts?
LG: We show the best of world cinema including favourites from the Toronto International Film Festival, such as the hypnotizing documentary montage on the resilience of indigenous peoples across time and space – Mobilize (dir. Caroline Monnet), and the recipient of the Best Short Film award at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, depicting a Senegalese family living in Paris, who find themselves at a crossroads – Maman(s) (dir. Maïmouna Doucouré). We also feature award winners from around the world, such as the Winner of the Horizons Award at the 2015 Venice Film Festival – Belladona (dir. Dubravka Turic), a remarkable Croatian film about perception and female to female empathy, and hidden gems such as the incredibly timely and impeccably cast look at the African American experience After TheStorm (dir. Jessica Oyelowo).
SFF: Do you screen only Canadian shorts at Short Cuts, or do you also feature shorts from other countries?
LG: We screen short films from around the globe. Countries represented in the past year include: Iraq, Germany, Argentina, Australia, Chile, Croatia, France, The United Kingdom, Hungary, Norway, Sweden, U.S.A., Israel and Jordan, to name a few.
It is also a priority to support the incredible filmmaking happening here at home. Every program has Canadian representation. A few Canadian films that we have recently featured include: The GrandfatherDrum (dir. Michelle Derosier), Mobilize (dir. Caroline Monnet), Bacon and God’s Wrath (dir. Sol Friedman), Boy (dir. Connor Jessup), Dredger (dir. Phillip Barker), Her Friend Adam (dir. Ben Petrie), Benjamin (dir. Sherren Lee), and World Famous Gopher Hole Museum (dir. by Chelsea Mcmullan and Douglas Nayler).
SFF: Have any filmmakers come to any of your Short Cuts screenings as guest speakers?
LG: Yes! We aim to have a filmmaker or special guest in attendance at each screening.
Director Phillip Barker and lead actress Alex Paxton-Beasley (known for Dirty Singles and TV’s MurdochMysteries) attended the screening of his visually arresting, fourth wall breaking short, Dredger, which was a part of our Summer Fever program, to talk about experimental filmmaking, sexuality and character. They also spoke about their last collaboration, Malody, and hinted at another to come.
Ben Petrie, who directed the glorious and unforgettable meltdown that is Sundance Award winner and Canada’s Top Ten selection, Her Friend Adam, also joined us to talk about his process and working with TIFF Rising Star Grace Glowicki, for our screening of the Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour.
Connor Jessup, director of the Ozu-inspired and poetically supernatural Boy attended the Misfits program. You may know him as an alumnus of the TIFF Rising Stars program which recognizes talent in front of the camera, such as his performances in Closet Monster and TV’s American Crime. The producer of Boy Ashley Shields-Muir (who also collaborated with Jessup on Little Coffins) joined us as well. They told us all about their influence and gave us a sneak peek into their next short, Lira’s Forest, which they described as having the sensibility of a live action studio Ghibli film!
Sherren Lee, director of Benjamin (a film that tackles LGBTQ adoption and surrogacy), was in attendance for an Intro and Q&A following the screening along with her lead actor Jean-Michel Le Gal to talk about feminism in film and representation in all its forms.
SFF: Many short film fans don’t live in Toronto, and therefore aren’t able to attend Short Cuts easily. Are there ways that they can experience a Short Cuts screening in their own hometown?
LG: TIFF’s national film outreach program, TIFF Film Circuit, brings the best of both short and long format filmmaking to film series’ and film festivals across Canada. Film Circuit works with 170 locations in over 150 communities spanning from Prince Rupert, B.C. to Charlottetown, P.E.I.
I program many of the Canadian shorts that we play at the Short Cuts series at TIFF Film Circuit locations across the country. Some locations show short film packages and others pair short films with features. TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten program travels to many of our locations and the Oscar-nominated Canadian short film Blind Vaysha (which was also an official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival and Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival), is currently prefacing many feature film screenings. Find out if there is a Film Circuit location near you, here: www.tiff.net/filmcircuit/locations
SFF: How has the audience reception been to Short Cuts?
LG: The audiences have been really engaged. One of our highest attended recent screenings was the Emerging Female Voices Spotlight – a collection of short films from some of the world’s most promising emerging female filmmakers. We used the screening as an opportunity to vocalize our commitment to gender parity and intersectional feminism. The gender gap grows dramatically in the space that typically exists between short and feature filmmaking so it’s a vital place to have that conversation. We also used the program as an entry point to a much larger conversation about inclusion, representation and empathic intelligence, and the Toronto short film community rallied!
SFF: Can we get a sneak peek into what you have planned for Short Cuts in 2017?
LG: Absolutely! Our next program – Canada, Animated – focuses on home-grown talent. It takes place on Sunday, March 5th at 1pm and explores what makes the Canadian viewpoint so unique through the work of some of our most exciting new animators. It will include Alisi Telengut’s Nutag – Homeland, a poignant, hand-painted ode to the pain of the displaced Kalmyk people of the Soviet Union, following WWII. Also feature filmmaker Robin Joseph’s Fox and the Whale, an atmospheric tale of curiosity about a fox who is drawn to the sea. Joseph will be in attendance to introduce the film and will be present for a Q&A with the audience, following the program. Take a look at the full program details for Canada, Animated here: http://www.tiff.net/events/canadian-animation
Also upcoming is Spotlight: Clermont Ferrand, a selection of recent favourites from the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival curated by Laurent Guerrier, screening Thursday, April 6th at 9pm. Highlights include Shio Chen Quesck’s Guang, an affecting Malaysian film about a young man who struggles with social interaction but finds comfort in a secret passion and Emma de Swaef and Marc Roels’ fabric based stop motion animation Oh Willy, an absurdist Nordic film about a nudist in mourning, who ventures into the woods to find solace. Take a look at the full program details for Spotlight: Clermont Ferrand here: http://www.tiff.net/events/spotlight-clermont-ferrand
Stay tuned for more programs, to be announced on a seasonal basis, throughout 2017!
Sounds like it’s going to be an excellent year of shorts programming this year at Short Cuts. A big ‘thanks’ goes to Laura and everyone at TIFF for making Canadian shorts accessible via Short Cuts, Film Circuit and TIFF itself. If you happen to catch any of the Canadian shorts at these screenings, be sure to let them know via Twitter @TIFFShortCuts @FilmCircuitTIFF and @TIFF_Net. Don’t forget to include Short Film Fan @shortfilmfan or leave a comment below. Follow TIFF on Facebook, too: https://www.facebook.com/TIFF
Are you a new and upcoming filmmaker who is passionate about animation? Are you up to the challenge of making an animated short that is only one minute long? If so, then the National Film Board’s Hothouse program is for you. In its eleventh year, Hothouse is an intense 3-month paid apprenticeship program aimed at giving a select group of new and talented filmmakers the opportunity to work with and be mentored by a variety of NFB filmmaking experts. At the end of the program, each participant will emerge skilled and experienced in animation filmmaking.
Although the apprenticeship normally takes place at the NFB Animation Studio in Montreal, this year’s six apprentices worked out of his or her local NFB studio. The theme for this year’s films was ‘Found Sound 2.0’ whereby the films were created based on unusual or unique sound clips. The filmmaker had the choice to use pre-selected clips found online by the NFB Hothouse team or an audio clip of the intern’s choosing.
This year’s participants were Rhayne Vermette from Winnipeg, Curtis Horsburgh from Victoria, Catherine Dubeau and Pascaline Lefebvre from Montreal, Lorna Kirk from Halifax, and Duncan Major from St. John’s. Their Hothouse films can be found on the NFB’s website at https://www.nfb.ca/playlist/hothouse/
Besides accessing them online, these shorts are making their rounds at festivals, including this weekend’s Gimli Film Festival. For some of his thoughts about NFB Hothouse, Short Film Fan reached Jon Montes, producer at the North West Studio in Winnipeg:
Short Film Fan: What is the main purpose or goal of the NFB’s Hothouse?
Jon Montes: Hothouse was started about eleven years ago at the NFB’s Animation Studio in Montreal as a way of giving emerging animators an opportunity to work in a professional production cycle, but with a compressed timeline and a pretty invigorating group dynamic. It’s an intense production environment. At the end of three months, you come out with a polished 1 minute animation where, instead of doing it all yourself, you’ve had a chance to work with an experienced production team, sound designers, editors, and of course lowly producers. But as Michael Fukushima, executive producer of the Animation Studio in Montreal likes to say, the most important film you make in Hothouse is your next one. Opening up doors to professional animation production is really the key here.
SFF: How many Hothouse apprentices do you take in per year?
JM: Usually Hothouse is a group of six animators, though we have done some partnerships with other countries before where we also hosted animators from Brazil (Hothouse 4, 2007) and Mexico (Hothouse 10, 2014). In each of those editions, we had 8 animators. We get a strong number of applications each year from across the country. In this last edition, we received over one hundred submissions, which means that we could only accept less than 6% of those.
SFF: Why are these shorts only one minute long?
JM: One minute might not seem like a lot, but it’s an incredible amount of work. Hothouse takes animators from concept through development into production and post-production. Doing all that in just three months is a tall order – especially considering that animators are pushing out films frame by frame! That’s 1440 frames (60 secs x 24 frames per second) for those of you keeping track. But the more interesting reason to limit films to one minute is that is really forces animators to hone their skills as storytellers. One minute is actually a fairly large canvas in terms of what can be done, but it requires that animators focus on story, paring it down to its most interesting essence. Developing those skills are a huge part of the Hothouse, and we spend a lot of time discussing pushing participants to stretch their limits in terms of what’s possible on a narrative level.
SFF: Have any previous Hothouse films gone on to be made into longer shorts or feature animated films for the NFB?
JM: Every Hothouse film is a stand-alone piece, a self-contained nugget of animation storytelling, so we don’t try to expand them into longer pieces. Still, Hothouse is an amazing way for the NFB to discover animation talent across the country. Just to mention a few, Hothouse alumni include: Howie Shia, whose last film with the NFB, BAM, premiered at TIFF; Dale Hayward and Sylvie Trouvé, who led the stop motion production for the feature film The Little Prince and are in production for their new animated short Bone Mother with the NFB; Malcolm Sutherland, who was part of the very first edition of Hothouse in 2004 and just served as the mentoring director for the last edition, and Patrick Doyon, who followed up his Hothouse film Square Roots, with the NFB-produced and Oscar-nominated Sunday/Dimanche. All to say, a huge number of Hothouse alumni (70 in total!) continue to direct and animate on a professional basis. It’s a beautiful way to come full circle.
Rhayne Vermette explains why she became a filmmaker and talked about her experiences as one of the NFB Hothouse apprentices. Her film, UFO, can be seen below:
Short Film Fan: Who or what inspired you to become a filmmaker?
Rhayne Vermette: I was studying architecture and my work was quite concerned with more psychological effects , so I started making short animations with paper models as a way to pursue my investigations more cinematically. Making film seemed to be more a natural method of working for me – rather than making building proposals, so I just stuck with it.
SFF: How did you hear about Hothouse and what made you apply?
RV: One of the local producers here in Winnipeg suggested I apply.
SFF: What was the experience like for you professionally?
RV: It was interesting. I already have a fairly secure practice and method of working so didn’t get much out of the NFB’s methods of group “workshopping” work.
SFF: What are your recommendations to anyone who is interested in participating at Hothouse?
RV: There is this bizarre group critique process surrounding the program, I think it can get pretty overwhelming and daunting. I would suggest to anyone that they have the courage to stick to their vision as see fit.
Short Film Fan Commentary: These short animation films were fun to watch. It is amazing to see and experience the kind of filmmaking creativity that is out there in Canada. No doubt, the task of producing a one minute short animated film from a sound clip can seem daunting for new filmmakers. But in the end, new animated short films are made for short film fans to enjoy and new Canadian filmmaking careers are born. Looking forward to seeing the talent that emerges from Hothouse 12 next year. Thanks, NFB!
The last trio of Canadian filmmakers appeared on the third episode of CBC’s Short Film Face Off on July 2nd. They all had their spotlights beaming on the $45,000 film production prize to be won on next week’s finals courtesy of Telefilm Canada and William F. White.
This time, it was Hector Herrera (The Ballad of Immortal Joe), Daniel Boos (Bound) and Rachelle Casseus (The Buckley Brothers) who were featured on the program and made their pitches to the panel. These three short films were brimming with romance, drama and comedy. In the animated The Battle of Immortal Joe, a cowboy monster recounts his tale of love and sadness; a shopkeeper in Bound is torn when he discovers his brother employs foreign workers; two brothers born of different fathers are convinced they are identical twins in The Buckley Brothers.
In the end, The Buckley Brothers finished in third place with 12.0 points, with Bound coming in second place with 13.5 points. The Ballad of Immortal Joe clinched first place with 14.0 points and was the highest-scoring film on the program this season.
Tonight’s shorts had certain characteristics to them that should make them audience favorites at future film festivals. The Ballad of Immortal Joe was an entertaining and unique tribute to the old cowboy stories of The Old West. We also learn the lesson that despite our sorrows, there are others who are worse-off in life. The shopkeeper faced a difficult situation in Bound – how to deal with the fact that his generous brother is also using foreign (read: illegal) workers at his sawmill. The appearance of the small paper note signified the seriousness of the plight of these workers, while the mystery of the unknown message written in the note has the ability to raise curiosity levels in any viewer. The two brothers in The Buckley Brothers symbolized that one can be happy and accept others despite overt differences. The two young girls’ memories of their dates with the brothers were funny and the children who played the brothers as young kids bore an almost uncanny resemblance to the grown actors.
Hats off to Hector, Daniel and Rachelle for competing on Short Film Face Off. All the best goes to Hector as he approaches possible immortality on next week’s season finale. Viewers have the chance to vote for their favourite film from the past three weeks at cbc.ca/shortfilmfaceoff or by phoning 1-877-876-3636 until Sunday night.
You can watch tonight’s episode and each of these three films again online at CBC Player.
With the recent blockbuster superhero movie releases of ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ earlier this year and ‘Captain America: Civil War’ last month, an idea came up.
Which Canadian character, real or imagined, would you like to see in a Canadian short?
One Canadian comic book character that first came to mind was Captain Canuck. He came on the comic scene in 1975 through the creative juices of Ron Leishman and Richard Comely. What kind of adventures could he get up to in a short film? From further research, other Canadian comic book characters that have graced magazine stands in the past include Northguard and Fleur de Lys. It would be interesting to see if the adventures of these characters could be translated into a short film form.
What about real-life Canadian characters from history? Would it be possible to take one moment from their lives and turn it into a short film? Maybe Sir William Stephenson, the man who would be the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s James Bond, would be an interesting feature in a short. Could you imagine a Canadian James Bond in a 10-minute short film?
Would all of these ideas work? That would probably depend on a few factors. Financial resources could be one of them. Casting the right actors could be another. But, who knows? Maybe one day these ideas and others will come to life in a Canadian short.
Do you have any ideas of your own? Write your comments below or share a post on Short Film Fan’s Facebook and Google+ pages.
The Canadian Screen Awards is approaching fast. Fans of Canadian television, film and digital media will be tuning in to CBC-TV on March 13th to watch the winners accept their well-deserved awards that night. Canadian short films will also be a part of the week-long celebration; a total of 15 Canadian short films were nominated in three categories. Information about the films and categories were listed in January’s post, 2016 Canadian Screen Awards Short Film Nominees Announced. Here’s where you, Canadian short film fans, can show your support for these shorts while having some fun in a Tweet-Out!
During the month of March, the CBC-TV program Canadian Reflections will be screening four of these CSA-nominated shorts before and after the March 13th broadcast of the awards ceremony. The shorts and their broadcast dates are as follows:
Roberta (March 6th)
Autos Portraits (March 13th)
The Little Deputy (March 20)
She Stoops to Conquer (March 27)
Whether you decide to watch Canadian Reflections when it’s on-air or if you would rather record the program and watch it at your convenience, be sure to Tweet-Out which film you watched by using this phrase:
Just watched CSA-nominated (film title) on @CBC #CanadianReflections @karenteezang #CdnScreen16 #cdnfilm #shortfilm
If one of the above films is a winner at the CSA, use this Tweet:
Just watched CSA short film winner (film title) on @CBC #CanadianReflections @karenteezang #CdnScreen16 #cdnfilm #shortfilm
Note to Short Film Fan subscribers outside of Canada: you won’t be able to view Canadian Reflections in your country. But, you still may be able to view these four films by finding and streaming them separately online. We hope you’ll still be able to participate with us.
Don’t have a Twitter account? No problem! If you have a Facebook page, you can still join in the fun. You can use the above-mentioned Twitter messaging to come up with your own Facebook post. Remember to tag the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television and CBC in your post so that they know they’re being mentioned!
Check your local TV listings to find out when Canadians Reflections will be broadcast. You can also watch the show at http://www.cbc.ca/player/tv/Canadian%20Reflections
A big ‘thank you’ goes out to Karen Tsang, Development Manager and Canadian Reflections Programmer at the CBC, for her support and enthusiasm behind this Tweet-Out. Don’t forget to include her Twitter handle in your Tweets: @karenteezang
If you’re a Canadian short film fan and ever wondered if any of these quality films and their passionate filmmakers are acknowledged and awarded, look no further than the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television’s Canadian Screen Awards.
The Canadian Screen Awards will be celebrating the best in Canadian television, film and digital media during Canadian Screen Week from March 7th to 13th this year. The fun culminates on March 13th at 8 p.m. with the 2-hour broadcast of the awards ceremony on CBC-TV.
A total of 15 shorts are nominated in three categories and are as follows:
Best Short Documentary:
Bacon & God’s Wrath – Sol Friedman
The Little Deputy – Trevor Anderson, Blake McWilliam
Quiet Zone – David Bryant, Julie Roy, Karl Lemieux
Rebel/Bihttoš – Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Laura Good
World Famous Gopher Hole Museum – Chelsea McMullan, Douglas Nayler
Best Live Action Short Drama:
Blue Thunder/Bleu Tonnerre – Philippe-David Gagné, Jean-Marc E. Roy
Mynarski Death Plummet – Matthew Rankin, Gabrielle Tougas-Fréchette
Overpass/Viaduc – Patrice Laliberté
Roberta – Catherine Chagnon, Caroline Monnet
She Stoops To Conquer – Zack Russell
Best Animated Short:
Autos Portraits – Claude Cloutier, Julie Roy
The Ballad Of Immortal Joe – Hector Herrera, Pazit Cahlon
BAM – Howie Shia, Michael Fukushima, Maral Mohammadian
In Deep Waters – Sarah Van den Boom, Julie Roy, Richard Van den Boom
The Sleepwalker/Sonámbulo – Theodore Ushev
Hopefully during the television broadcast we’ll get to see clips of all the shorts, as well as a chance to see the filmmakers in the audience. Congratulations and good luck to all the nominees at this year’s Canadian Screen Awards ceremony!
Tweet With Canadian Reflections and SFF in March: As an added bonus to Canadian short film fans, some of these nominated shorts will also be broadcasting on the CBC-TV short film program, Canadian Reflections, in March. Stay tuned to Short Film Fan for details on which films will be aired on the show and for information about some fun Tweeting that you can participate in!
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!
Christmas is almost here and our radios and televisions are packed full with Christmas programming specials. One of the most classic Christmas stories known to most people is Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. There have been countless film and television adaptations of this story of repentance and second chances. The National Film Board even produced its own version in 1975 with a 10-minute version called “Energy Carol”.
Written and directed by Les Drew, this short was also made possible with assistance by the former federal Office of Energy Conservation, as well as the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. ‘Energy Carol’ is a humorous spin on the Dickens story, with Ebenezer Stooge as a CEO of power production company and his trusted employee, Mr Scratchit. Stooge believes in encouraging everyone to use energy as fast as his power company can make it. According to Stooge, energy waste equates to growth. However, just like his Dickens counterpart, Stooge is shown the folly of his ways by three ‘energy ghosts’ past, present and future.
‘Energy Carol’ was a very clever attempt at educating Canadians of the day at conserving energy in their daily lives. Without a doubt, the energy crisis of the 1970s was a catalyst in the production of this film. Although it was a short film, ‘Energy Carol’ followed the original Dickens story very well. It was also smart to present the film and energy conservation in a humorous manner; no one certainly wants to feel guilty about wasting energy or cajoled into changing a habit.
The film still resonates in these times, as household energy prices in Canada have been steadily climbing in the past few years. Even if your lifestyle already includes conservation practices such as using energy-efficient light bulbs and taking public transit, ‘Energy Carol’ is still a nice little film to watch at Christmas.