Category Archives: Drama

You Will Get Through It No Matter What In ‘Given Your History’ (2014)

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month in Canada. From coast to coast, Canadians will be encouraged to do all they can to help find a cure that will eliminate this life-threatening illness. From screenings to financial donations to adopting healthy lifestyles, everyone in the country has a chance to do their bit to fight against breast cancer.

Although the chances of beating breast cancer have been improving over the years, far too many women have succumbed to it. Often their death was untimely, leaving behind their children, spouses, and even their parents to live without them. Losing a family member at any time can be hard. For young children or young adults, it can be devastating as relationships can suffer and personal struggles can be overwhelming.

Molly McGlynn’s 15-minute short film, Given Your History (2014), is a profound and emotional portrayal of two sisters’ lives after their mother dies of breast cancer. In the beginning, we meet sisters Alanna (Katie Boland) and Colleen (Rachel Wilson), as they wait for their mother, Bridget (Valerie Buhagiar), to finish her rowing session with her Dragonboat team. When Colleen visits Alanna after their mother dies, internal and external conflicts soon emerge between them. For a sneak peek into the film, watch the trailer below:

 

Short Film Fan caught up with Molly and she shared some of her thoughts about the film:

Short Film Fan: What motivated or influenced you to make Given Your History?

Molly McGlynn: I  lost my mom to breast cancer almost ten years ago when I was 21, which is around the age Alanna’s character is supposed to be. Also, I am one of five girls and I wanted to make something that takes a glimpse into grief after the dust has settled a bit and how the loss of parent can affect sibling dynamics. It’s not autobiographical, but comes from a deeply personal place.

SFF:  What particular challenges did you face when making this short?

MM: Emotionally, I had to distance myself from my own narrative for the sake of the film. It was empowering and cathartic to direct a film based on such a difficult period in my life! Logistically, the dragon boats scenes were a little bit of a nail biter. I was insistent on using the Dragon’s Abreast team that you see in the film, which happens to be the team my mother was on. We shot in October and the very last weekend the boats could be out in the water was our shoot days. So, basically, if the weather did not cooperate, I’d lose the boat scenes which were so integral to the story. But, by good luck it was a chilly day and the sun was shining. We got what we needed.

SFF:  Given Your History was a deeply moving and emotional film. What has the audience reception towards the film been like since its release?

MM: Really good! A lot of people can relate to this narrative. I don’t want to label it a “cancer” film, but that is a central part of the story. Everyone has been lost or grieving something at some point, so I think people can see a little bit of themselves in it.

SFF:  What message did you want to get across to the audience with this film?

MM: I’m hesitant to want to push a “message” out with my work; more just show a truthful, honest story that may make the audience look at themselves or their life in a new way. If I had to name it, I guess it would be to say that ‘we’re all gonna be okay, no matter what you have to go through’.

 

Short Film Fan Review: Given Your History is definitely a stirring short. It is an educational film in that it shows how one can still find peace despite living through the sorrow that breast cancer can bring. The Dragonboat scenes also taught us that no one is alone when fighting a disease such as cancer. The film also underscores the fact that life must go on and that it does go on. Both Katie Boland and Rachel Wilson played very convincing roles as sisters, with the most realistic and intense moment taking place when Colleen is trying to calm down a very distraught Alanna in her bedroom. Given Your History is a must-see film for anyone struggling to deal with a loved one’s health battles or coping with the loss of a loved one.

We wish all the best to Molly and hope to see more short films from her in the future.256px-16mm_filmhjul

 

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What Are They Up To Now: Alan Powell Explores The Power of Denial in ‘As One’ (2016)

Keeping in step with the promise of trying new things on Short Film Fan, ‘What Are They Up To Now’ is the latest feature that will show up here from time to time. The goal is to touch base with those who have been previously interviewed on SFF and to explore what has been going on in their careers since their last appearance on the site. In this first edition of ‘What Are They Up To Now’, Short Film Fan reconnected with Canadian filmmaker Alan Powell, now a resident of London, UK, to talk about his latest short, As One.

 

Many people are often oblivious to the fact that they live in a state of denial. Living in denial can occur, for example, when a person ignores the pain and suffering that he or she experienced sometime in the past and pretends that everything is alright with their present lives. Or, someone may be in denial if he or she chooses to ignore his or her current needs and learns to live without them instead. For a while, the denial works and the person lives life somewhat happily. But, at some point, something will happen or someone will say something that breaks down the person’s denial barrier and those blocked inner feelings are released quickly and powerfully.

Alan Powell’s 11-minute short As One (2016) looks at this delicate topic through a woman’s struggle with her current relationship situation. Twice-divorced Maggie (Janie Dee) is on her way to a wedding in a classic London black cab along with her daughter Abi (Jeany Spark) and two other passengers: Douglas (Neil Morrissey) and Danny (Edward MacLiam). By the time the party reaches their destination, Maggie’s life, in a sense, has been deconstructed and she’s left to pick up the painful pieces and carry on. Watch the trailer:

In last year’s interview on Short Film Fan, Alan was in the middle of working on As One. Now complete, the film will have its North American premiere at the 35th Vancouver International Film Festival this month, as well as its European premiere this coming November at the 31st Festival Européen du Film Court de Brest in France . Short Film Fan followed up with Alan to get some input from him on why he made As One and how living in London influences his filmmaking:

 

Short Film Fan:  What motivated you to make this short?

Alan Powell: It started with the expression ‘never underestimate the power of denial’. I first heard it in the film American Beauty. I thought it was a fascinating line and it stayed with me. What can the power of denial actually do? It can create a life full of lies and delusions to protect oneself from the fact that they’re unhappy or living in deep-seated pain and unwilling to face the truth. This resonated with me. I know people who live their lives or have lived their lives never wanting to peak outside the bubble they created for themselves. I wanted to explore the journey of a woman who knows the truth that exists outside that bubble yet denies its presence in her life. What does that look like? How would she deal with it? As One is really a character study of the dynamics denial creates in relationships.

SFF:  You mentioned previously that As One was a short that you originally had set in Toronto, ON. Besides the change in location, in what ways did producing As One in London, UK, affect the film’s original concept and final result?as-one-poster

AP: Setting it in a Black Cab in London enhanced the concept. It’s a tight space and visually compliments the film’s theme. In Canada, there’s no way I could have had the same dynamic in a cab. The historic Black Cabs are designed to sit two passengers across from another two. So the four passengers are facing each other which was ideal blocking for As One. In terms of London as a location, maybe it’s just me but shooting here is far more pleasing visually to the eye because of the history that’s here. The textures, the tone it sets, all of it looks great on film.  Then, there are the actors. Again, maybe it’s just me, but the accents, the authenticity they bring to their work; it all feels very sophisticated for this Canadian boy :). Canada equally has these elements, too, but you really can’t compare the two countries. What also helps is having a cinematographer that knows how to capture beautiful images. Oliver Ford has shot two films for me so far. He won an award for the last one (Phone Box). He’s a true artist and he makes me look great!

SFF: How does making a short in London compare to making a short in Toronto, in general?

AP: Same challenges. The only difference I can see is that you have access to name talent here. I think it’s pretty cool that Sir Ian McKellen lives down the road from us. We saw him at our local supermarket last Christmas. When I was living in Wapping, Rod Stewart lived nearby too. So, this is a pretty cool place. Some of Hollywood’s biggest names still live in London and some will consider doing short films if the script is strong enough. That’s why Neil Morrissey came on-board. He shot to fame in the 90’s with his role of Tony in the sitcom ‘Men Behaving Badly’. He’s been busy ever since. He’s still considered royalty here, so it was an honour to have him join the cast.

SFF: Are you satisfied with leaving As One as a short, or would you consider turning it into a feature?

AP: You’ll be pleased to know that I’ve developed the script for the feature film. It recaps the short in the first 5 minutes and then carries on from there with the same tone and pace. Needless to say, I’m very much looking forward to putting it on the screen next.

 

Short Film Fan Review: The cab ride was definitely the perfect place to expose and ultimately defeat Maggie’s denial of her deep unhappiness. At first, we see a cheerful Maggie; feeling alive from the energy that London offers. However, as the conversations between the four passengers continue during the cab ride, Maggie’s protective barriers slowly start crumbling away. Could this same turn of events have happened during or after the wedding? The film made a very good point with the fact that in denying ourselves, we deny others in the process; creating isolation and further denial. Seeing the Black Cab travel through a busy London evening was a treat and the view of Big Ben at the beginning of the film was stunning. As One was a perfect mix of drama and comedy that is worth watching more than once.

As One screens in Canada at Vancouver Film Festival on October  7th and 9th. Get your tickets soon and don’t miss this opportunity to see Alan Powell’s latest short! If you happen to catch As One at VIFF, Tweet your thoughts about the film to him directly @alan_powell.

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Explore A Man’s Inner Struggles About A Dying Pet In ‘Suki’ (2012)

Now and then in our lives, we are faced with making tough decisions.  High school students, for example, often have the hard task of deciding what career they want and what post-secondary school to attend. Unemployed persons must choose whether to stay in their current city or move elsewhere to pursue their career, uprooting family and routines in the process. But, perhaps one of the most difficult decisions to make in one’s life is deciding to let go when it is time for someone close to us to pass on into death.

Maxime-Claude L’Écuyer’s deep 13-minute short Suki (2012) examines this challenging situation with one man’s inner struggle as he is faced with the eventuality of euthanizing his pet dog. Mathieu Leclerc (played by Benoit Saint-Hillare) is a concerned man; he is aware that his companion Suki is dying. Wearily, yet faithfully, Suki accompanies Mathieu to the local park and on walks. Deep inside, Mathieu knows that the time has come to put Suki down, but hesitates to make a decision. After unsuccessfully trying to feed Suki, Mathieu eventually makes his choice. Watch the entire film here:

This was an extremely moving short. The tone of the music and the pace of the acting perfectly underscored the seriousness of the situation. It was difficult to watch Suki slowly suffer and it was equally hard to watch Mathieu go through the pain of knowing that he had no choice but to call the veterinarian for the final appointment. The anguish in Mathieu’s face and his hesitancy to get Suki out of the back seat of his car and into the clinic were very realistic. It is definitely not easy to make such a hard decision as putting a loyal pet down. Therefore, this short could certainly be used to help other pet owners deal with their own hesitation and grief as Mathieu faced.

Suki was filmed entirely in Montreal with technical resources from the National Film Board of Canada through their program, l’Aide au cinéma indépendant (ACIC). Suki in the film was also the real-life pet dog of Maxime-Claude. Suki has been seen in 15 film festivals around the world, including the 13th annual Salento Finibus Terrae International Film Festival in Italy, and the 2nd annual Goa Short Film Festival in India. Suki  won the Inspiration Award at the 9th annual Cinema On The Bayou Festival in Lafayette, LA.

You can connect with Maxime-Claude on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. If you want to see more of Max’s films, be sure to follow him on Vimeo, as well.

Good luck to Max on his future short film productions. Can’t wait to see what he has planned next!

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‘The Frozen Goose’ (2016) Explores War’s Effect On Rural Canadian Family

Turn to any news source these days, whether it is an app on your smartphone, your television or radio, or even a printed newspaper, grim stories of world war and conflict emanate from them all. Unfortunately, war and conflict are still a part of our daily lives, despite any past efforts or platitudes made to stop them. For example, World War I was touted to be the ‘war to end all wars’ when it occurred between 1914 and 1918. But, as history shows, World War II followed from 1939 until 1945 with countless other conflicts taking place since then.

It is no secret that wars take their toll on people’s lives. Soldiers in the field as well as relatives back home suffer the consequences of the brutalities of war. For soldiers returning home from a conflict, the pain and suffering does not end. In fact, their struggles continue as they try to reintegrate back into regular society. Margaret Lindsay Holton’s short film The Frozen Goose takes a look at one particular family’s attempt at dealing with post-war trauma.

In this 25-minute short, Tom (John Fort) returns to Canada after serving at Vimy Ridge with his friend (David C. MacLean). After his friend dies in battle, Tom promises to take care of his friend’s wife, Helen (Leslie Grey), and his two children, Bella and Charlie (Hannah Ralph and Cameron Brindle). While Tom tries to find his place within the family and in life, Bella and Charlie take matters into their own hands.

The Frozen Goose will be making its Canadian premiere at the Art Gallery of Burlington at 3 p.m. on September 11th. But before this first public screening, Short Film Fan reached out to Lindsay for some of her thoughts about the short, including the challenges experienced while making it and what she hopes the audience will take away from it.

 

Short Film Fan:  What motivated you to make The Frozen Goose?

Margaret Lindsay Holton: I had been shooting short (under 15 minute) documentaries of interesting characters and locations for the past 5 years for local news outlets, and decided I wanted to step up my game and attempt a ‘scripted’ work. To that end, and as I am self-taught, I wanted to be sure I had a ‘good story’ out-of-the-gate.TFG mlh POSTER

My short story, ‘The Frozen Goose’, was first printed as the last story in a well-received WWI anthology in 2014 called ‘ENGRAVED: Canadian Short Stories of World War One’, published by Seraphim Books. This is a very good place to be – the ‘last story’ in any collection is proof positive that it is a ‘good story’; otherwise the editor wouldn’t have placed it there.

On the strength of that, I then scripted The Frozen Goose. After several readers had read the story, and some small adjustments, it was ‘locked’ as a screenplay in August of 2015.  I knew I was ready.

SFF: Where was The Frozen Goose filmed, mainly?

MLH: The film was shot entirely in Southern Ontario, around the Golden Horseshoe region, (comprising Hamilton, Burlington, Milton and a ‘heritage village’, Westfield, in Rockton, Ontario.)

SFF: What were some of the challenges you faced with making this film?

MLH: The most challenging was the capriciousness of the weather. Ten days before the scheduled shoot there was no snow on the ground. There was no ice on the chosen lake. I was frantically considering alternatives:  shooting on fake snow at a nearby ski resort or using large green screens or postponing the shoot altogether.

But luckily, and literally overnight with plummeting temperatures, it snowed for three days straight. It also snowed, remarkably ‘on cue’, while we were shooting our final scenes. Unfortunately, it was not quite cold enough for the lake to freeze up properly given such a short time frame. So, for safety reasons, I opted for an available shallow frozen pond for the last day. We did manage it, but just!

The second challenge was the budget. In retrospect, it was a pretty ambitious period film, done on a mini-micro budget of $11,000.  If I was to remake this work, I’d definitely start with more cash on hand. But, in some respects, I wouldn’t have known that until I tried it. Hindsight is 20/20.

SFF: The recruitment posters definitely gave the film the authentic period look. Where did you find them?

MLH: I researched online, found a number of ‘public domain’ images from the Public Archives of Canada, downloaded them, tweaked them to the right size and dpi, and then printed out 10 for the interior store set. They look ‘new’ and authentic to the period because they were, in fact, freshly printed.  Here’s an example: http://www.archives.gov.on.ca/en/explore/online/posters/big/big_31_war_poster.aspx

SFF: Do you feel that rescue near the end was what Tom needed to finally affirm his place in the family?

MLH: Yes. It was my intent from the onset to have him as a somewhat ambiguous character with audience unsure whether to like or loathe him. (i.e. Did Helen’s husband actually take a bullet so that he could live?) After the war, he was damaged and broken; tormented and locked in a kind of emotional exile. He was suffering a form of PTSD, or, ‘shell shock’ (as it was called back then.) He was trying to adjust, fit in and help. But, he was failing on all fronts.

His redemption comes at the very end when he steps in to save the children. We get a glimmer of the better man that he really is. It is slowly understood that Helen’s hero-husband chose him to look after the family for very good reason. There is hope for all, after all.

SFF: What messages or lessons would you like the audience to take away from The Frozen Goose?

MLH: Initially, warfare may seem ‘glorious’ and ‘heroic’; even fun for some. But, the brutal reality is this: war shatters humanity on every level.

It doesn’t matter if it is World War I, II, or III. Real war – not Hollywood make-believe war, but REAL war that intends to kill others or be killed in the killing – demands far too great a sacrifice from us all. Loved ones die and, really, for what purpose? A momentary ‘killer high’? To just ‘win’? For whose greater glory? Bragging rights? Nationalism? Ideology? A flag? A religion? Territory or resource securement?

Surely, at this point in our combined evolution, we, as one species on this planet, can and should know how to live better amongst ourselves.

War also clearly has reverberating repercussions that extend far beyond the immediacy of a ‘battle field’. In this instance, even though only one of the characters of this story was at the ‘front line’, every character has been damaged. Grief, fear, anger, uncertainty and all the torments of unsettled minds churn in the tail-winds of war.

Peace – true peace of mind and spirit – can only be achieved when the ferocious ‘wolves of war’, real and imagined, are banished forever from our hearts and our minds.

This is not a fairy tale fantasy. It is a choice we can all make about living and life.

 

Short Film Fan Review: The Frozen Goose is definitely a timely film, even though it was set after World War I. Today’s Canadian soldiers returning home from conflicts in Afghanistan face similar issues with PTSD, as recent news reports have uncovered. It is also timely in that April 2017 will mark 100 years since the Battle of Vimy Ridge took place. The Frozen Goose would be perfect to use in educating future audiences about PTSD issues as well as the Vimy Ridge conflict itself. Finally, as previously mentioned, the posters in the shop short were an excellent addition for a post-war look and feel.

If you would like to attend the premiere of The Frozen Goose, click on this link to order your tickets: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/the-frozen-goose-canadian-premiere-at-art-gallery-of-burlington-ontario-tickets-26037813802

For more information about film and about Lindsay, visit her website at http://mlhproductions.weebly.com/

You can also follow The Frozen Goose on Twitter and Facebook.

All the best to Lindsay and everyone else involved in The Frozen Goose for a successful premiere on September 11!

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Spend Quality Time With The Kids While Watching ‘Five Dollars’ (2013)

Right around Easter time, school-aged kids get a break from the classroom routine with a week off from their studies. For some families, it’s an opportunity to get away from it all and take a small vacation either at home or somewhere far away. For those lucky parents who can take the time off from work, it can also mean a temporary reprieve from needing a babysitter to care for their young children. Babysitting can not only cost in terms of money, but can also cost in terms of less time spent with one’s kids.

The 6-minute Canadian short Five Dollars is a powerful look at how babysitting can affect a relationship between a small boy and his mother. Written by Chris Cromie and directed by Reza Dahya, Five Dollars stars Lyric Justice as Anthony and Tika Simone as his mother. Anthony’s mother needs a babysitter to take care of him while she is at work. Anthony has fun at the babysitter’s, but happily looks forward to her return at the end of the day.

Typical of little kids, Anthony asks his mother questions around the topic of money. He asks her how much money she makes at work, which makes her uncomfortable at first. But, she eventually reveals to Anthony her wage of $20 per hour. Later, Anthony asks her for $5 which she originally refused (thinking that he wants to buy another video game). She later changes her mind and gives him the $5 as she tucks him in bed at night.

Anthony then shows his mother his stash of money hidden in a teddy bear. Concerned, she asks him why he had almost $20 saved. Anthony happily replies that he was saving the $20 so that she could leave her work one hour early and that they could spend time together.

Check out the film here:  

Five Dollars is a film that really hits home and that most, if not all, people can identify with. What kid wouldn’t want to be with his or her mom or dad at such a young age? What parent wouldn’t want to have the chance to spend more time with their young kids instead of leaving them with a caregiver? Both actors’ portrayals of mother and son in the film were extremely realistic and moving. The part where Anthony browsed through the toy flyer was a clever distraction, as it made it seem like he really was saving his money for a game. His true intention for the money was a delightful and unexpected twist.

Babysitting is a fact of life and a necessary option for many working parents. It has its obvious benefits; parents get inexpensive childcare and the babysitter learns valuable life skills. But, it still doesn’t replace the time and effort needed to build that special bond between child and parent.

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Make ‘The Date’ (2014) Your Restaurant Menu Pick On Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is coming. On February 14th, the malls will be packed full of men and women buying gifts for their significant others. Dinner reservations will be made, cinema line-ups will be a little longer than normal and romance will fill the air. For singles, the day might consist of sad recalls of past relationships, questions surrounding unrequited love and increased visits to dating websites. It’s definitely a day where each of us can take a step back and examine how relationships can impact our lives for better or for worse.

Numerous films over the decades have dealt with love, romance and relationships from all sorts of angles and plots resulting in predictable endings. However, the Canadian short The Date is not your typical dating and relationship film. Written and produced by Mazi Khalighi, and starring Katie Boland and Noah Reid, The Date is a unique look at the beginning, middle and ending of a relationship between two people.

The Date takes place in only one location: a hamburger restaurant. The film begins when Steph (Boland) and Mike (Reid) meet up with each other at the restaurant sometime after their relationship ended.  Afterwards, we watch as Steph and Mike start, sustain and end their relationship at the same table in the same restaurant. Just like many real-life relationships, everything is positive and shows potential at the beginning. After a few years, the relationship plateaus and becomes routine. In the end, as problems and hard feelings have surfaced, Steph and Mike split up and go their separate ways.

Watch the film here:

 

In terms of a dating and relationship film, The Date was brilliantly presented and is perhaps one of the best Canadian short films made in a long time that deals with this topic. It was different and refreshing to experience the story only from the perspective from the restaurant conversations.  Boland and Reid did a great job in executing their roles. The emotions and body language looked and felt extremely real; it was as if we were sitting in the restaurant right beside the couple.

So, whether you’re with your sweetie or doing some online dating on Valentine’s Day, pull out a chair at your favourite burger joint, sit down, take out your laptop or tablet and check out The Date.

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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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Have Fun On Halloween With Three Spooky Canadian Short Films

Halloween is just around the corner in Canada. It’s a night of fun and celebration for all who enjoy the tradition. Kids of all sizes will be running through their neighborhoods on the search for candy treasure. Adults will have an opportunity to go out for costume parties, but only after they’ve taken their kids out for trick-or-treating!

Fans of Canadian short film also have a way to join in the Halloween fun. Here are three that have a spooky, suspenseful theme to them:

The Last Halloween by Marc Roussel and Mark Thibodeau. In this 2013 film, four young trick-or-treaters make their Halloween rounds in a devastated neighbourhood. They visit one home where the occupant attempts to chase them away. But what’s the result?

 

Foxed! (2013) by James Stewart and Nev Bezaire. This is an animated short about a girl who is trapped and enslaved by foxes to work deep in their mines. Can she successfully contact and be saved by her mother, who is on the other side of the wall?

 

The Toll by Scott Simpson. A suspense thriller from 2014. A toll booth operator’s seemingly dull evening shift gets very interesting with a car accident, a deceased woman and two armed men. How does he handle the situation?

 

All three films will keep you on the edge of your seat, give you a jolt and leave you wanting more. Once the little armies of costumed children have gone home, or before you head out to that Halloween party, take the time to watch The Last Halloween, Foxed! and The Toll. They’re fun and keep the Halloween spirit alive in Canadian short films.

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Rearview (2015) Follows Auto Accident Aftermath, Tests Driver Convictions

What would you do if you accidentally killed someone in a car accident?

This is the question that the new 16 minute short film Rearview attempts to answer. Directed by Jon Mann and starring Rob Ramsay, Rearview takes a hard look at the critical hours after a young man accidentally hits and kills a young girl with his car. With no spoken dialogue in the film, the young man goes on a painful journey of disbelief, fear, anger and resignation. Throughout the film, we watch him struggle with the situation in his own way while attempting to own up to the tragedy with his family and the police.

When asked why he wanted to make this film, Jon wanted the audience think openly about how a person would really react in the wake of a tragic event like an accident.

Rearview Poster“A big part of writing this film came from always wanting to write a story told from the point of view of someone who had just committed a hit-and-run,” said Jon. “Rob has always been fascinated by stories that are told wholly through action. The two ideas came together perfectly. One thing I really like about Rearview is that unless you’ve been in this type of situation, you really have no idea how you would react. I think it’s really easy to sit back and say that you would do the right thing, but we really have no idea.” 

“I’ve always thought it was so interesting that when an everyday hero does something, they always say something like: “Well, I did what anyone would do,” or “You would have done the same.” It’s like they deflect; it becomes like an embarrassment of riches – almost. With Rearview, I wanted to take the heroic story, turn it on its head with an anti-hero and see what would happen in the other extreme. I hope people see the film and ask each other what they honestly think they would do if they were to hit someone with their car.”

In order to prepare to play the character of the driver, Rob combined his love of physical roles together with his interpretation of the negative emotions that one would or should expect to experience after such an event.

“Portraying this character was a welcomed challenge,” stated Rob. “I’ve always enjoyed watching an actor’s physical interpretation of a character and that’s all this role is. With no text to convey his range of emotions, I had to rely on his internal monologue and do my best to emote that through his body language. I love watching characters think and there’s a lot of thought involved in this guy’s journey.”

“Fortunately, I’ve never experienced what this character goes through, so it was a matter of pulling pieces from different situations. The disbelief when we get in an accident, the feeling of grief we go through when we lose someone, the helplessness when we have no one to talk to and the acceptance of your circumstances. This character goes through an emotional roller-coaster to say the least.”

 

The accident and the young man’s behaviour in the aftermath were shocking to watch in Rearview. The story has the power to open up one’s eyes to a man’s agony and desperation. Rearview definitely has the ability to make someone dig deep inside themselves and question his or her own ability to act rationally after going through a stressful situation. This film should have no problems picking up awards at national and international film festivals.

Go to Popular Demand Pictures’ Facebook page for news and information about the film and give it a ‘like’: https://www.facebook.com/populardemandpictures.  More film details are available at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4661854Rearview opens to the public in November.

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‘Little Brother’ (2012) – Using Technology To Keep An Eye On Freedom

In the past few decades, society has seen an explosive growth in the use of technology in people’s daily lives. Computers can be found in our automobiles, home appliances and even watches. DNA samples are used to track and catch criminals. But, what if computers and human beings were combined in order to fight for a common cause? What would be the result? The 2012 Canadian short film ‘Little Brother’ by Cyrus Saidi and Gautam Pinto gives us an insight into what could happen.

In this story, Natalie Brown stars as Jane Vidal; an activist, best-selling author and Peace Prize nominee whose mission is to fight against the ‘big brother’ control of citizens by governments. Jane is convinced that this control is happening in Western nations, as well as in her original country of origin. She feels that using information technology, rather than conventional weapons, is the key to expose and bring down these regimes. In order to accomplish her mission, Jane wants to return to her homeland and challenge the country’s current dictator leader (played by Navid Negahban) to a debate. She reveals her mission and philosophy in a television interview with Mr. Cooper (played by Stephen McHattie). Instead of a public debate, however, Jane is tortured and meets the country’s leader in a jail cell. After taunting the dictator with warnings and defiance, she is killed. Much to the dismay of the dictator, he realizes that he has been exposed – their entire confrontation was broadcast (or recorded) via an eyeball camera that was surgically implanted in her in advance.

Watch the trailer to ‘Little Brother’ by clicking on this link: http://www.imdb.com/video/withoutabox/vi2604509465?ref_=tt_pv_vi_aiv_1

‘Little Brother’ certainly delivers when dealing with controversial subject matter. From dictatorships to biotechnology to steadfast convictions, the film handled each subject with tact and intensity. We even got to see Jane’s motivation for her war on ‘big brother’ in the form of flashbacks to her ‘little’ brother’s murder. This helped in understanding why she was willing to go so far to fight for her principles. The implanted eyeball camera was clever and gave the film a futuristic tone. I also liked the use of the line “This we will all see” near the end. It was first a taunt against the dictator and then a revelation to him; realizing he had been exposed by her camera. It is definitely a short to be watched more than once.

Overall, it was an impressive short film that reminds us how much of an impact high-tech is having on everyday life – even in the pursuit of freedom.

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