Tag Archives: indie film

‘Ganjy’ Star Ben Ratner Nominated Best Actor At 2017 UBCP/ACTRA Awards Gala

The 6th annual UBCP/ACTRA Awards Gala will be taking place in Vancouver, BC  on November 18th at the Vancouver Playhouse. This peer-adjudicated red carpet gala recognizes the best talent in film and TV talent from British Columbia. A total of 27 performers have been nominated for categories in Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Emerging Performer, Best Voice and Best Stunt.

In the Best Actor category, Ben Ratner was nominated for his role as Ganjy Berger in the 2016 dramatic short film, Ganjy. On the eve of this weekend’s gala, Short Film Fan reached out to Ben to learn more about Ganjy and to better understand the significance of the presence of short films in awards galas such as the UBCP/ACTRA Awards.

 

Short Film Fan: What went through your mind when you first learned of the nomination?

Ben Ratner: I deeply invested in creating and performing the character of Ganjy, and knowing that a group of my peers responded so favourably means a lot to me.  I also felt very lucky, as there are a great many strong performers submitting their work, so many factors have to align to get a nomination — a bit of luck being one of them.  And to make things even better, my wife, Jennifer Spence, has been nominated for “Best Actress” this year for her work on You Me Her.

SFF: Can you tell us briefly what your role was in Ganjy?

Ben Ratner as Ganjy Berger

BR: I play Ganjy Berger, a former professional boxer contending with dementia puglistica.  The film was informed by my years as an amateur boxer, and inspired by meeting Muhammad Ali in 2009 with Aleks Paunovic, my Ganjy co-star and co-executive producer.  Aleks was also an amateur boxer, as were our other cast members Zak Santaigo and Donny Lucas.

SFF: What does it mean to have short films such as Ganjy appear in award ceremonies such as the UBCP/ACTRA Awards?

BR: It’s great to see that a good performance can get noticed, whether it’s in a $50,000,000 feature film or a $5,000 dollar short.  No one can stop an ambitious actor from making things happen for themselves if they have a story to tell and a character to bring to life.  As the old song goes, “a lot of money can buy you a fine-looking dog, but only love will make him wag his tail.”

SFF: There doesn’t seem to be a separate category for Best Short Film in this year’s awards ceremony. How can we ensure that short films get their own category in the future?

BR: I don’t think the UBCP/ACTRA awards are planning on separate categories for different mediums — be they film, TV, web series, or shorts.  The point of this awards show is they “even the playing field” for all actors.  It’s about the performance – not the medium or budget.  And that’s a great thing!

SFF: In your opinion, how important are short films to the Canadian film industry?

BR: Shorts matter now and always will, because they are how almost all filmmakers get started, and they provide opportunities for emerging performers to play lead parts and show what they are capable of.  Because feature films cost so much more to make, the distributors need “star” actors to try to attract an audience.  Shorts aren’t as much of a financial risk, so there is far more room for decisions to be made based on creativity, instead of commerce.

 

Short Film Fan Commentary:

It is significant to see short films competing on a level playing field against feature-length films and TV programs at the gala. As Ben stated, it is not about what medium was used or how much money was spent; it is truly about the best performance an actor or actress can give. Canadian short films are very well-known and respected for their quality; be it acting, script or production. So, perhaps they really do not need their own category in awards ceremony galas. They already have, and will continue to have, the strength and ability to hold their own against other mediums.

Congratulations goes to Ben on his nomination as Best Actor. Best of luck to him and all the other nominees in tomorrow night’s UBCP/ACTRA Awards Gala.

Advertisements

Eye-Opening `Frigid` Reveals Harsh Reality Of Postpartum Depression

Perhaps one of the most joyous occasions in a couple’s life is the birth of their baby son or daughter. Whether the child is the first or the latest in a succession of children to the family, both parents are happy and proud of their newest arrival. However, the stresses of taking care of a baby can emerge in the form of postpartum depression. This type of depression occurs in mothers during and after pregnancy and can occur in fathers as well. Sometimes, it can be difficult to know whether or not one is suffering from a mental illness. Feelings that are shrugged off as ‘having a bad day’ can eventually build up into hopelessness, worthlessness and even thoughts of suicide. When a mother is suffering from postpartum depression, what can she do to manage this illness? What can both the father and the mother do to cope?

Frigid is an intense 14-minute short film on the topic of postpartum depression written by Heli Kennedy and directed by Joe Kicak. Heli also stars as the mother, Leah, while Damon Runyan stars as the father, Vincent. Leah and Vincent have a newborn son, Jacob, in their family. While both Leah and Vincent raise their baby, they soon become at odds with one another over how to take care of him. While Leah struggles with her depression, Vincent’s life is mostly “business as usual”. Over time, Leah’s increasing stress and depression leads to an intense moment that almost cost the couple the life of their son.

Recently, Heli and Joe shared their thoughts with Short Film Fan about Frigid, including the real life background of the film and why it was important to discuss the issues of mental illness in general and postpartum depression in particular.

Short Film Fan: Why did you decide to produce Frigid?

Heli Kennedy: It was a bold story we couldn’t get off our minds. It’s based on a real woman’s dangerous struggle with postpartum depression. Mental illness and motherhood isn’t often talked about yet so many women struggle with it — that’s what drew me to this project, as a writer and actor. It’s an issue that calls for a voice and intimate character study. I come from a family background riddled with mental health issues: agoraphobia, addiction, schizophrenia, depression… I think that’s another reason I was drawn to this story. Delving into this particular character was eye-opening and cathartic. While writing and performing, I tried to keep an element of raw truth in the story. The screenplay, which I had worked on for a couple months, felt very close to being camera- ready and attracted amazing creative talent. So, that also gave us a cue that we were producing the right project!

Joe Kicak: During high school, I opened up to a teacher about my mother’s life-long battle with bi-polar disorder.  She then shared her struggle with post-partum psychosis, which the film is based on. Coming from an immigrant family that didn’t believe in (let alone speak about) mental illness, I find sharing stories of people’s struggles important. That way we can get through the isolated horror, and begin the hard discussions to heal together.

SFF: Frigid was quite scary to watch from the 10-minute mark onwards. Why did you decide to make Frigid as a drama/suspense film?

HK: The idea to make it a drama/suspense came from the desire to keep the audience along for the ride with the main character. We felt that if we told the audience she was struggling with postpartum in the beginning, some may not take the journey with her to see things from her side. The mother is also unaware that she has postpartum, which was pulled from the true story on which this film is based. Her paranoia, fear and hallucinatory visions unfold to her. Suspense felt like the right fit for this — it holds back answers and danger in the plot until specific points. In our case, it’s about holding back the realization of being mentally ill from our mother character. The fear/horror shift at the end is meant to build climax to this realization. It’s horrific to realize you’ve lost a grip on what’s real.

JK: Mental illness can be terrifying for the person experiencing it and the people around them. We treated it like a suspense because there are always little clues that something is wrong. When I was young my father tried to quit drinking cold turkey. His withdrawal process made him start hallucinating.  I remember being 11 years old and he would introduce me to friends that weren’t there. At first I thought it was funny and that he was just joking around with me. However, he started arguing with these imaginary people and became aggressive; slamming doors and punching through windows.  Mental illness turns scary very quickly. It can be like dealing with a ghost in a horror film – like there’s this sudden, invisible danger you don’t know how to handle.

SFF: In the film, the mother is suffering from postpartum depression. But after watching the father’s behaviour, were you trying to get the message across that men can also suffer from this illness?

HK: Our intent wasn’t to portray “postpartum” in men, but to show the struggle both sides of a relationship experiences when it undergoes a major life change, such as having a child. The father, as vilified as he appears from his wife’s perspective, also struggles to adjust to life with a baby. He tries to maintain a relationship with his wife, not aware of the postpartum depression she’s experiencing. He’s tired, confused, angry…his life seems to be deteriorating, and he’s not equipped to deal with it. Mental illness affects everyone around it. So, in a different way, he’s also a victim of it as well.

JK: I think that men can definitely suffer from mental illness when a major life change occurs, like having a baby. Vincent was dealing with his own emotions as a new father, inadvertently trying to hold on to the last bastions of his bachelor life, which added to Leah’s paranoia.

SFF: Frigid premiered at the Calgary Film Festival this year. What was the audience’s reaction to the film?

HK: Great! It really felt like the audience was lured into the story via initial suspense, and slowly realized the serious issue our protagonist faced. The programmer, Brennan Tilley, also told me that he has an infant at home and this film really shook him. If people relate, that’s an amazing reaction!

JK: I love sitting in the back of the theatre for my films because I can observe peoples reactions to specific moments and see what worked and what didn’t. I was happily surprised that there was some laughter in the beginning with the characters’ struggling relationship. It felt great to me because it signals a connection from the audience to the story, which only makes the journey more powerful.  During the climax you can hear gasps and see some hands shoot up to mouths, but at this particular screening two women literally wrapped their scarves around their eyes because they just couldn’t handle it.

SFF: What would you say is the main take-away from Frigid?

HK: I hope the main takeaway is awareness of postpartum depression and compassionate conversations about mental illness (and motherhood). I think one of the goals of film and art is to connect with people and foster understanding.

JK: For me, the film is about starting the discussion. As a child that grew up around mental illness that was never discussed, it’s about showing that many families struggle with issues and asking for help shouldn’t be embarrassing.

 

Short Film Fan Review: Frigid is an eye-opening and shocking short that will keep you on edge for the duration of the film. Both Heli and Damon did an excellent job in portraying their respective characters. One can feel the intensity between them as husband and wife, father and mother. One will also feel sympathy for Leah and Vincent, as they do their best to navigate through an extremely frustrating and confusing moment in their lives. For those who do not understand or know about postpartum depression, Frigid will definitely clarify how serious this mental illness can be. Perhaps the film could have ended with Vincent or Leah making a call to their family doctor or to the Canadian Mental Health Association to get more help. That may have given the audience a bit of relief after the roller-coaster ending scene. Otherwise, Frigid is a must-see film for any new parents or parents-to-be so that they can become prepared to deal with postpartum depression.

For more information about postpartum depression, go to the Canadian Mental Health Association’s website at https://cmha.ca/documents/postpartum-depression/

Toronto Shorts International Film Festival Back For 5th Year

The 5th annual Toronto Shorts International Film Festival is back in this September, taking place from the 21st to the 24th at the AGO Art Gallery of Ontario’s Jackman Hall. As in previous years, the festival proudly showcases some of the most unique and fascinating shorts films from Canada and the world.

Among the shorts that will be screened, 25 of them are Canadian and represent a variety of genres, including sci-fi, comedy, drama and animation.

One Canadian short that will catch your eye is FTL, which was written and directed by Adam Stern and stars Ty Olsson as Commander Kane. Kane gets an opportunity to test a new spacecraft, called ‘Lightspeed’, which was constructed to travel faster than the speed of light. While the ship successfully arrives to an orbit around Mars, its attempt to return back to Earth takes an unexpected and frightening turn for Kane, his cohorts and his family. Watch the trailer for a sneak peek at the film:

 

As a sci-fi short film, FTL is an amazing story about hope and courage when technology goes awry. The drama and suspense are powerful enough to keep the viewer on the edge of his or her seat. The special effects were incredibly detailed and enjoyable to watch. There are some interesting resemblances in FTL to some very famous sci-fi feature films. Kane’s cool attitude in the beginning is reminiscent to Han Solo from Star Wars, while his maddening trip through space will remind viewers of Dave Bowman’s descent to Jupiter in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The ending of the film happened a little too quickly; it would have been interesting to hear what Kane had to say about the whole ordeal. Overall, FTL was a well-acted and well produced short film out of British Columbia. It even has the potential to be made into a full-length feature.

For fans of short film, do not miss out on your chance to visit the Toronto Shorts International Film Festival this year. You will be able to catch more amazing short films such as FTL with a general admission of $14 or with an all-access pass of $40.  To buy tickets and for more information on this year’s lineup, including other Canadian shorts, check out their website at www.TorontoShorts.com and be sure to attend!

Want to share a review or comment on a Canadian short that you saw at the festival? Send them to Short Film Fan via Facebook, Twitter or email. Readers’ thoughts on short films are always welcome.

 

See The Lighter Side of Canadian Immigration In ‘Yes I Canada’

It has been said that Canada is a nation built through immigration. For decades, people from all over the world have made Canada their country of choice to make their new permanent home. For many fleeing war or poverty, Canada gives newcomers a chance to start over and to live as peacefully and happily as much as possible. As recent news reports have shown, though, people will sometimes go to great lengths to be a part of this nation, including dangerously crossing borders via land or sea as refugees. As some also find out, immigrating to Canada is not a sure thing as successful applicants must also meet a number of requirements as set out by the federal government.

While immigration is no laughing matter, Katarzyna Kochany’s short film presents a quick and lighter side to this life-changing event. Based on a true story, Yes I Canada (2017) stars Florian François as the immigration candidate and Dan Willmott as a Canadian immigration agent. Upon entering the door of the immigration office, the candidate enthusiastically makes his case to immigrate to Canada. Not only has he brought official documents for review, the candidate has also gone so far as to bring other personal effects to make his case, including his old teeth. Before the agent has a chance to say anything, the candidate continues by making references to various aspects of Canadian culture. When the agent finally gets to speak, the candidate is in for a surprise. Find out what happens by watching the whole film below:

 

Short Film Fan spoke with Katarzyna to find out more about Yes I Canada, including the background behind the film and how Canadians, both immigrants and natural-born, have reacted to it.

Short Film Fan: What was the inspiration behind Yes I Canada?

Katarzyna Kochany: The film is adapted from a stage monologue written by Florian François, a Toronto actor who hails from Paris, France.  The inspiration came from Florian’s own experiences of applying to become a permanent resident of Canada.   Every good comedy is grounded in truth.  As a director, I was immediately attracted to this project because of its truth.

SFF: It was surprising to see the candidate trying to use a boom box to play the national anthem. Why was a boom box used instead of a smartphone?

KK: The candidate is trying to do whatever he can to make himself stand out from all other applicants, hoping that when the immigration officer sees how badly he wants to stay, his efforts will be rewarded.  Alas, the boom box doesn’t quite work out the way he had hoped.

SFF: What has been the reaction been like by Canadians immigrants who have watched Yes I Canada?

KK: The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.  We’ve received comments from strangers that even though the film is obviously comedic, it is very accurate.

SFF: Have you been able to screen it to anyone who works in government, such as the immigration office?

KK: Though we haven’t had a chance to screen it specifically for Immigration Canada, the film was featured in Canadian Immigrant Magazine and several newspapers: Hamilton Spectator, The Record, and Mississauga News.

SFF: When a natural-born Canadian watches this film, are they surprised at the huge effort that this gentleman took to try to immigrate here?

KK: Immigration is such a huge part of Canadian identity that the story resonates with the general audience.  Those who can’t relate to the process of immigration can certainly relate to the challenges of dealing with any sort of bureaucracy.   Any surprise in the reactions we’ve encountered is more of the emotional kind: the comedic gags, the heart-wrenching twist at the end.

 

Short Film Fan Review:

Yes I Canada is a funny little film that is reminiscent of similar one-on-one skits from the comedy troupe, Monty Python. The candidate’s hard work at becoming a Canadian, including apologizing at the beginning and making hockey references, will easily put a smile on your face. Perhaps the agent could have tried to interrupt the candidate a few more times in the film and have those attempts be ignored by the candidate; that may have added a little more humour into the mix. The use of the French translation at the bottom was a great addition to the film; maybe Yes I Canada could be adopted by Canada’s immigration office as a fun little ‘what not to do’ film when considering immigrating to Canada.

Yes I Canada was Katarzyna‘s first time at adapting a stage piece onto film and it was an excellent effort at that. The film was also nominated for Best Comedy and Best Actor at the 300 Seconds Film Festival. We wish Katarzyna all the best in her future short and feature length film work!  To learn more about Katarzyna Kochany, check out her website at: http://katarzynakochany.com/

An 8-Film Preview Of 2017 Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival

If you or anyone you know is a young and aspiring filmmaker living in the Greater Toronto area, the Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival is back. On August 11th and 12th, a total of 53 short films will be featured in five different programs throughout various locations. This festival is your chance to see some of Toronto’s budding filmmakers’ work in a wide variety of genres, including animation, comedy and drama covering a wide variety of topics.

Aleks Tucovic
Short Film Fan had the pleasure in reviewing a sample of what festival goers will expect to see at this year’s festival. The themes, dates and locations of these films are also included below. Thanks to Aleks Tucovic, an avid Short Film Fan reader and subscriber, for contributing four of the reviews in this list:

 

UNDER THE SURFACE – August 11, 7:30pm, Spadina Theatre at Alliance Francaise de Toronto

But Wait, There’s More – directed by Mike Mildon

In this cheeky 14-minute short, Tim goes door to door on a mission to bring people to God. In his travels, he meets the legendary and disgraced TV marketer, Danny Deals, who teaches Tim a thing or two about sales. The film was part mockumentary, part dramatic comedy in which the costumes and props gave the short somewhat of an authentic 1980s look and feel. There are some good lessons to learn at the end, no matter what you are trying to sell. – MK

Erika – directed by Hanna Jovin

During World War II, a Bosnian and German girl find and stoke a friendship that stretches beyond ethnicity. The acting was excellent and the use of German and Bosnian languages made it feel like the short was produced in Europe. Maybe the lesson to be learned in this film is that, while the first casualty of war is truth, the innocence of youth remains intact. This a great short for history buffs who would like to learn more about Bosnia and its people during the war. -MK

 

UNBOUND  – August 12, 1:15pm, Innis College

Happy Face Hill – directed by Samantha Chalmers

When life drives a highway through one’s life, what is one to do? There’s no better opportunity than to put a smile on everyone who is driving that highway of life. “Happy face can’t always be happy,” says the film’s speaker, however. He reminds us to just enjoy the day, the family, friends and the meal on the table. You don’t know what the day will bring, but having watched Happy Face Hill I know it brought an enjoyable film to my day. -AT 

Nana – directed by Ali Kellner

This animation piece is a personal account of experience of a girl from Budapest during World War II. The film flows from the narration. Where the words established the events, the animation filled with imagery of what was directed in those harsh times. The music which was of somber tone bound together the destiny of people swept up by great historical shifts. The film pulled me in into its humble yet powerful reflections. -AT

PROPOSAL – August 12, 3:30pm, Innis College

The Talk – directed by Tyler Boyco

A husband and wife try to come up with the best possible way to talk to their young teenage daughter about the birds and the bees. The resulting heart to heart is far from the scenarios that they come up with in their minds. Although a bit slow paced, this short made an often uncomfortable rite of passage for all parties involved into a lighthearted comedy. After watching this short, teenage viewers may want to tread carefully while at sitting at home between after school and dinner time. -MK

These Familiar Faces – directed by Maximum Brauch and Raine Akiyama-Chen

This was a spooky story of four people in an emotional group session. The music weighed in heavily on the direction of the film. Going back and forth in creative storytelling created its own story deconstruction. The film’s characters left me wondering about what reality was like for those young enough to remember and those not yet old enough to know better. -AT

 

TRANSITIONS – August 12, 6:00pm, Innis College

Ariana – directed by Astrid Harrison

After losing her love in a car accident, young woman hears a particular tune at a wedding that she can’t get out of her mind. She helps the song’s composer by adding lyrics of her own, which in turn helps her with closure. The short was a very heartwarming story about the tragedy of love lost and the hope in moving on. The car accident scene was particularly shocking and has the potential to make viewers flinch in their seats. The music and singing were beautifully written and scored for the film. -MK

Breath, Maggie, Breathe – directed by Sofie Uretsky

Before undergoing a delicate and unconditional procedure, a conversation between sisters sets the tone of the story. The opening shows the main character strongly composed then shows her vulnerability in dialogue. I liked how her deflection of a doctor’s concern leads directly to the next scene’s reflections with her partner. This was an uncomplicated yet important story. -AT

 

For more on this year’s Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival and to buy your tickets, check out http://www.torontoyouthshorts.ca/

If you see any of the shorts featured listed above and want to share your own thoughts about them, leave a comment below!

Have fun at the festival, everyone!

View Shorts & Vote For Your Favourite At WFG’s 48-Hour Film Contest

For short film fans living in the Winnipeg area, the summer weather has been very hot and humid this past while. If you are looking to escape the heat while enjoying 27 newly-minted Manitoba-made short films at the same time, come down to the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre on Wednesday, August 2nd  at 7 p.m. for the 48-Hour Film Contest.

This annual event organized by the Winnipeg Film Group encourages the creation of short films made by Manitoba residents. Participants are tasked to write, shoot, edit, score and complete an original short in just two days.

Not only will the audience be treated to some quality short films, there will be a reception after the contest with a chance to win some prizes and an opportunity to mix and mingle with the filmmakers and members of various arts organizations.

Hot off of the 48-Hour Contest premiere at Gimli Film Festival, Short Film Fan caught up with Ben Williams, WFG’s Production Centre Director, to learn more about this year’s 48-Hour Film Contest at the Met:

 

Short Film Fan:  What genre of shorts will be screened at this year’s contest?

Ben Williams:  Actually, every year the filmmakers are given a challenge to produce a film within a set of parameters called “The Key”. The Key changes every year and each year there is a different plot theme, at least two camera techniques and the use of a music score. It is within these parameters that each filmmaker crafts their film. This year the plot theme was titled “The Quest”: There’s comedy, drama, LGBT content, special effects, some action and even puppets in this year’s crop of films.

SFF: Which categories will these shorts compete under?

BW:  At Gimli, there was a jury selection for Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editor, Best Sound, Best Score, Best Actor and Best Actress. At the Metropolitan, the audience gets to decide on the People’s Choice Awards for Best Film and Best Score. If you attend this event your vote will count.

SFF: Which filmmakers should the audience especially keep their eyes on?

BW:  I can honestly say that this year’s crop of films is stronger than it has been in the past four years. If we judge it by what the jury and Gimli crowd felt… filmmakers like Julie Epp, Cleo Leslie, Michael Sanders, Jhurmel Pasqua, Vincent Tang, Carter Hadlow, Lasha Mountain, John Titley and Lucky 7 Studios (composed of 7 teenagers ages 13-17) each have quality films. The bar is getting raised higher each year and we are proud of the results.

SFF:  Why should short film fans attend this year’s 48-Hour Film Contest?

BW:  There will be a reception afterwards with appetizers and a cash bar served from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. We will have a silent auction with generous sponsorships from: Royal MTC, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Ballet of Winnipeg, Landmark Cinemas and other great prizes. All ticket holders will receive 10% off at Chosabi (printed on the ticket). There will be many filmmakers, musicians, actors, film industry folks, local business arts supporters and arts organizations in attendance a great opportunity to build and network.

 

For tickets to the screening, click on the Winnipeg Film Group’s website: https://www.winnipegfilmgroup.com/event/48-hour-film-contest-2017-at-metropolitan-entertainment-centre/

For directions to the Met, check out  http://www.themetwinnipeg.com/contact-us/

A pair of free tickets is available to a lucky Short Film Fan reader in Winnipeg. Just email your name and phone number to cdnshortfilmfan@gmail.com and two tickets will be waiting for you and a guest at the door.

Happy viewing, short film fans!

‘A Bicycle Lesson’ Rides On To Advance To ‘Short Film Face Off’ Finals

Tonight’s episode of Short Film Face Off was broadcast on July 15th and featured the second round of Canadian filmmakers vying for the $40,000 film production prize from Telefilm Canada and William F. White. While two of the films focused on experiencing a key moment in human life, the third film looked more at the experiences of two dolls’ not-so-pleasant lives.

Letter To My Future Self by Robert Randall was the first on the bill, followed by Renuka Jeyapalan’s A Bicycle Lesson and Trevor Kristjanson’s Boy Toys. In Letter To My Future Self, a teenager struggles with disappointment after reading a letter that she wrote to herself as a child; a young woman teaches her mom to ride a bicycle in A Bicycle Lesson; two dolls in Boy Toys feel the abuse and manipulation caused by their female and male handlers.

Second Round Contestants With Panel

A Bicycle Lesson won tonight’s round at 13.5 points, with Boy Toys coming in second place with 12.5 points and Letter To My Future Self taking third place with 10.5 points.

Letter To My Future Self was mostly serious with some humorous moments about that one key stage in life many of us experience: a breakup of a teenage dating relationship. It was heartwarming to see the teenager open up and share her thoughts to her younger self. The conversation’s tone between the two girls felt good as they were speaking to each other not as elder against younger, but more as equals.

A Bicycle Lesson also dealt with a life stage, but this time it is the stage when aging parents need help from their older children. The film did a great job at highlighting the struggle the young woman had with this situation: how do you juggle your own personal life with the need to help your parents? It would be a question that could not be easily answered as it was evident that the relationship between the two women was obviously strained.

Boy Toys offered a hilarious revelation into the life of two “Ken” dolls as they experience all sorts of abuse and embarrassing situations caused by the kids who play with them. It was especially funny to see the awkward positions the dolls took after being thrown onto the ground; that scene in particular could make anyone cringe and should make a kid think twice before treating his or her toys so roughly.

Kudos to Robert, Renuka and Trevor for appearing on Short Film Face Off with such amazing short films. All the best goes to Renuka as she bikes her way to the final round on July 29th. To watch tonight’s entire episode or to see any of the three shorts separately, visit http://watch.cbc.ca/short-film-face-off/season-10/d611d09a-6397-4a86-a91b-7632cfe86a9a

‘Parent, Teacher’ Takes First Round In Season 10 Of ‘Short Film Face Off’

Ten years seem like a long time, especially in the world of television. But for short film fans, ten years of watching Canadian shorts on TV has become a cherished tradition. The tradition continues this weekend when the 10th season of CBC’s Short Film Face Off will be broadcast for the next four weekends in July. The show’s slogan nicely sums up what viewers can expect this month: “four nights, nine films, one winner, you decide.”

At the end of this tenth season, a $40,000 film production package will be awarded to the winner of Short Film Face Off. The package is split up two ways:  $30,000 is contributed by Telefilm Canada with an additional $10,000 from William F. White International Inc.

The first episode of Season 10 aired on July 8th, with Steve Patterson returning as host and Nadia Litz, Mohit Rajhans and Eli Glasner resuming their roles as panelists.

On tonight’s episode, we were introduced to Gavin Seal (Case Claus’d), Roman Tchjen (Parent, Teacher) and Jessie Short (Sweet Night). In Case Claus’d, a young boy investigates the true giver of his Christmas gift; a teacher and a parent disagree on how a student should defend himself in Parent Teacher; a young Metis woman begins a journey of cultural reconnection and personal exploration in Sweet Night.

Filmmakers Seal, Tchjen and Short

Parent, Teacher moved on to the final round with 13.5 votes, Case Claus’d garnered 12.0 votes, while Sweet Night picked up 10.5 votes.

This tenth season of Face Off started off with three very profound shorts. The message in Case Claus’d that ‘facts don’t matter when you want to believe in something’ can easily be adapted into the adult world just as much as a child’s world; believing in a goal when the odds (i.e. facts) are against you is common in adult lives.

Parent, Teacher was in a sense a clash of cultures and parenting styles. For years, schools and parents have argued over the best way to teach a child to fend off bullying and mistreatment. The argument between the teacher and parent in this short made felt intense and realistic.

Sweet Night was a very timely film in its themes of Aboriginal cultural reconnection and sexual identity exploration. It felt like the LRT ride symbolically represented Andy’s journey down these two paths.

A big congratulations goes out to Gavin, Roman and Jessie for sharing their films with us. All the best to Roman as he waits to see who he’ll compete with for the $40,000 production prize package. Go to http://watch.cbc.ca/short-film-face-off/season-10/d611d09a-6397-4a86-a91b-7632cfe86a9a to view the first episode of Season 10 again or to watch each of tonight’s films separately.

Short Film Face Off Reaches Milestone 10th Season on CBC-TV

For Canadian short film fans, perhaps one of the most anticipated yearly television broadcasts is CBC’s Short Film Face Off. Taped in front of a live studio audience in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Short Film Face Off features nine Canadian filmmakers and their short films in which one winning filmmaker is awarded a generous filmmaking prize package. Hosted by Steve Patterson, the shorts are judged by a studio panel of three Canadian film professionals and the final winning short film is voted by the show’s viewers across Canada.

This year marks Short Film Face Off’s tenth year of showcasing these diverse and talented filmmakers’ short films to a vast Canadian television viewing audience. This is a huge milestone for the show; especially since it is unique in its format, niche in its content and is on-air for just four weeks of the year.

Short Film Fan reached out to Peter Hall, Senior Manager, Production Services at CBC Atlantic to get some insight into the history of Short Film Face Off, the reason for its longevity, and how the show has been received by the filmmakers and the viewing audience.

 

Short Film Fan: How did you come up with the idea of Short Film Face Off?

Peter Hall: At CBC Halifax, we were working closely with quite a few short film producers and directors. We supported several awards in the region to help emerging filmmakers get their films produced.  There were so many great films being made that we wanted to give them greater exposure and we knew the CBC audience would be the perfect place. We also knew this would be fresh programming because most people have few opportunities to see short films.

SFF: What were you hoping or expecting to achieve with Short Film Face Off, and were those hopes and expectations met?

PH: We have far exceeded our expectations.  Here we are ten years later and we have broadcast close to one hundred short films on television and introduced that many emerging Canadian directors to a whole new audience. Our intent was to showcase short films and provide a platform for directors to tell their stories from communities across the country. I am thrilled we are still doing that.

SFF: Short Film Face Off is now in its 10th season. How do you account for this milestone?

PH: Short Film Face Off is a very accessible program. Our host, Steve Patterson, does a great job to make filmmaking easy to understand and to appreciate for the television audience.

SFFO’s Host Steve Patterson
But really, the single most important aspect of the program is the quality of films that directors bring the program. They tell unique stories about Canadians and Canadian life and where else are you going to find that?

We also have had terrific support from Telefilm Canada over the years. This program fits perfectly into their mandate, and they have been an integral part of the show’s success.

We also have industry support from William F. White who offers an equipment rental package to our winning filmmakers.

SFF: How has the program changed since its first season, and what kinds of changes to the show do you foresee in the future?

PH: The program itself has not changed very much. Our format is pretty well the same; really the biggest change that we have seen is in the quality of films that are submitted every year. Typically there are close to two hundred films that are sent to our juries across the country and every year it seems they get better and better. Technology has certainly been part of that with the development of computer animation and effects but I think we are seeing films from some very talented filmmakers who know and love their craft.

SFF: Do you have a memorable moment from the show, either on or off camera?

PH: I always love to see the directors interact with Steve for the first time on the set. Steve can be somewhat unpredictable (in a nice way) so understandably it can be unnerving to anticipate what he may say or do. Once a director was describing in detail how, with much difficulty, they had borrowed a Volkswagen to shoot a scene. It turned out to be quite a long story and at the end Steve laughed and said, “Well that story was longer than the whole film”.

SFF: What has the feedback about the show been like from the filmmakers and viewers?

PH: For the most part, filmmakers who come to Halifax for the program love the experience. They really appreciate having their film shown to a national audience and talking about it with industry professionals. But we have noticed the friendships that are made between the filmmakers.

Filmmakers listening to panelist feedback.
When in Halifax the directors are able to meet others from across the country and there are great conversations and discussions about filmmaking. It is a singular opportunity for them to together and they do so in the studio and after hours in the pub. I think some lasting friendships have begun at Short Film Face Off.

Our best viewer feedback comes from the voting. I am always amazed to see the number of votes and the fact that they come from every province and territory.

SFF: How do you visualize Short Film Face Off’s role on CBC 10 years from now?

PH: I would like to see the program expand into a longer series.  Film is the dominant art form of our time and that is unlikely to change in the next 10 years and beyond.

SFF: Do you have any other comments or thoughts you would like to share about Short Film Face Off or Canadian short films, in general?

PH: I would like to tell film and television audiences that there are many fantastic Canadian short films being made in this country. Not only are the films wonderful to watch but the people making them are the future of filmmaking in Canada; they will be the ones to protect and celebrate the future Canadian culture.

 

Short Film Fan Commentary:

Indeed, there is an incredible wealth of short films out there made by Canadian filmmakers. These shorts are fun to watch with memorable and relatable story lines that add to an already rich Canadian film and television culture. Although they may be found on the Internet and at film festivals, Short Film Face Off is perhaps the most interesting, informative and exciting place to view Canadian shorts.

Viewers who have never seen a Canadian short film before will be impressed with the quality and variety that make their way onto Short Film Face Off each year. If you are not a Canadian short film fan now, you will be after watching the show. It will be exciting to see how this 10th season will unfold. Catch the first episode on July 8 at 7 p.m. local time.

Thank you to Short Film Face Off for connecting Canada together through short films, for bringing Canadian filmmakers into the spotlight and for making Canadian short films more accessible for everyone to enjoy and appreciate. Congratulations on your 10th season!

High-Scoring ‘The Ballad of Immortal Joe’ Spins Its Tale, Advances To ‘Short Film Face Off’ Finals

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.

IMG - SFFO 16 - Ep3This 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.

256px-16mm_filmhjul