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 Twitter, Facebook, 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!
Whenever we’re in a mood to learn something new or want to briefly step away from the entertainment side of films, chances are we will tune in to some sort of documentary. In terms of time, most documentaries can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. But, did you know that documentaries can also last the length of an average short film?
The National Film Board recently launched on its website a short documentary film project called 5 Shorts Project. This initiative is a film production partnership between the NFB and various Quebec artist-run production centres.
The first five short documentaries currently available through 5 Shorts Project were made in conjunction with Spira, an independent film co-op. The shorts deal with a range of interesting issues. Here’s a list of what you’ll see. Click on each title to be directed to the film:
The combination of the documentary and short film formats worked really well with these films. The production quality made it feel as if you were actually in the films with the other participants. Just like a short film, the length of these documentaries was enough so that the stories could be told concisely while stirring up the viewer’s imagination.
Short Film Fan Pick: Interview With a Free Man.
The next set of short documentary films for 5 Shorts Project will be made in partnership with La Bande Sonimage.
What do you get when you combine a short film, a Quebec film maker and the Hungarian language? You get the 14-minute film ‘Zsófika’, produced and directed by Maxime-Claude L’Écuyer and starring Georges Molnar as an aged Hungarian man who finds himself alone in his house with this thoughts and memories of a past war. With a voice-over spoken entirely in Hungarian (yet translated and subtitled for the audience), the gentleman thinks back to his war experiences with the love of his life. With his time running out, he has one last conversation with her and to himself in order to reconcile everything that had happened.
‘Zsófika’ was filmed entirely in Montreal and the monologue was written by Jean Barbe. The film won a Special Jury prize at the 5th annual CineramaBC International Film Festival in Brazil; a Special Jury mention at the Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival in Lafayette, Louisiana; and has appeared at the 2014 Cannes Short Film Corner as well as a ‘Short N Sweet’ film session at the Centre Culturel Canadien de Paris. Check out the trailer below:
This film had a definite European look and feel to it. The language and the music certainly made that happen. To me, the gentleman’s old record player represented his one and final connection between the present and the past. My favourite part was when he removed the lid of the record player and slipped on a 78-speed record to listen to. Maybe the song was something he and his lady danced to before the war began. I also appreciated the fact that the entire dialogue was spoken in Hungarian; it reminds us that everyday European people (especially from the East) were hit very hard by the tragedies and horrors of war.
A big ‘merci’ goes out to Maxime-Claude for approaching Short Film Fan with the opportunity to view ‘Zsófika’ online!
You can check out Maxime-Claude’s website at http://maximeclaudelecuyer.com/ as well as follow him on Twitter @MC_LEcuyer
You can also can like ‘Zsófika’ on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/zsofikafilm
One great privilege about living in a bilingual country like Canada is that we have the choice to produce and watch film entertainment in either English or French. This post is my first review of a French-speaking Canadian short film.
‘Chef de Meute’ (Heard Leader) is a 2012 production by writer and director Chloé Robichaud. Filmed in Montreal, it stars Eve Duranceau as Clara, a single woman who becomes the guardian of her aunt’s dog, Jacqueline, after the aunt’s untimely passing. Clara adjusts her single life to take care of Jacqueline, including taking Jackie to obedience lessons and going for walks. Everything changes, however, when Clara and Jacqueline end up in a car accident. Check out the trailer on Vimeo and the link to the entire film on CBC Player:
This film had a good mix of humour and tragedy. Anyone who is or who ever was single could identify with Clara as a single person and her family’s concern for her single state. We witness how her relationship with Jacqueline progresses. Clara is first oblivious to Jacqueline’s presence on the kitchen table, but later she is playful with the pup in the car. Clara is also amused with an unusual disciplinary method she is supposed to use with Jacqueline. Yet, she blurts it out in a comatose state from her hospital bed. Since the film was produced in French, subtitles in English were provided for the benefit of those who do not know the French language.
‘Chef de Meute’ has been featured at a number of film festivals, including Cannes, the Melbourne International Film Festival, and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). It has also won many awards and was also selected by TIFF as one of its Top 10 short films of 2012.
We hope to see more short films from Chloé. For more information about ‘Chef de Meute’, its cast and crew, go to the film’s official website: http://www.chefdemeute.ca/en/
Everyday, a multitude of parcels are sent to homes across the world each day. Letters and postcards still go through our postal systems, despite the increased use of email communication these days. But, do you ever stop to wonder what happens to a letter or parcel that gets lost in the mail, or is for some reason not deliverable? The stop-animated film, ‘Not Delivered’ (2013), is a fun look at a storage room full of unclaimed parcels, packages and letters when the working day is done and the lights go off.
This film was put together by students at UQAM in Montreal, QC: Cynthia Carazato, Ariane Filiatre, Philippe Lacroix, Samuel Pineault and Vincent René-Lortie.
There was so much to enjoy in this little short. I liked watching the boxes open up and all the contents would come out to play, such as the toy cars. It was hilarious to see the little toy boat sail on a rolled-out map of the world. I also liked the little action figure man who wore a shoe string as a scarf and walked through Styrofoam stuffing as if it was snow. He sure knew how to drive the toy boat and sail the ‘hot air balloon’.
‘Not Delivered’ is a nice, creative film put together by imaginative students. It must take much patience and skill to put together stop-action animated films. Let’s hope this talented group make more of these films in the future.
I attended the TIFF Canadian Shorts & Global Audience Film Awards at the Gimli Film Festival recently. The audience was treated to a variety of new Canadian shorts, including comedies and drama. At the end of the screenings, the audience had the chance to pick the winner of a $1,000 prize. The winning film was ‘The Chaperone’, directed and written by Fraser Munden and Neil Rathbone of Thoroughbread Pictures.
‘The Chaperone’ is based on a true story of events that took place at a teen dance party in 1970s Montreal. At one point during the evening, a biker gang suddenly crashes the party. It’s up to Ralph Whims, the chaperone, and Stefan Czernatowicz, the DJ, to remove the uninvited guests. View the trailer courtesy of Thoroughbread Pictures and Vimeo:
A serious situation at the time, the story was presented in top humor. I was laughing throughout most of the film. I loved the dialogue and the use of the funky 1970s guitar licks. I was especially floored at the different types of animation that was used. To me, it was very, very creative and it definitely deserved to win the $1,000 prize that day.
‘The Chaperone’ had its world premiere at the 2013 TIFF and was chosen by TIFF as “Canada’s Top Ten” shorts produced in 2013. The film is also available in 3D. Check out the website for more information on past screenings http://www.thoroughbread.ca/