Tag Archives: Montreal

‘Squad Leader TD-73028 Soliloquy’ Asks The Ultimate Question

When you make your way on the road of life, the hope is that you will feel some kind of personal satisfaction along the journey. This hope is especially true after working in a career, raising a family, participating in your community and so on. Of course, living a life means that one must accept and deal with the good with the bad that comes one`s way. However, boredom, cynicism or disappointment can start creeping in at some point, causing one to question what his or her true purpose in life is.

The 8-minute short film written and directed by Montreal’s Maxime-Claude L’Ecuyer examines this crisis through a clever combination of two well-known cultural icons in Squad Leader TD-73028 Soliloquy. In this short, a battered and tired Star Wars Stormtrooper (known as Squad Leader TD-73028) recites the famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy from Shakespeare’s Hamlet as he slowly walks through the heat and sun in a hilly sand dune. While walking in contemplation, the Stormtrooper makes a startling discovery in the sand that ultimately helps him make his final decision regarding his career path. Check out the trailer below:

 

Short Film Fan recently reached out to Maxime to get his perspective into Squad Leader TD-73028 Soliloquy.

Short Fim Fan:  Why did you decide to make this film?

Maxime-Claude L`Ecuyer: It all started at a party when my friend David Blouin, a cosplayer and member of the Star Wars Cosplayer group 501st Garrison Fortress Imperiale, showed me picture of his Stormtrooper suit. He made an exact replica of the Stormtrooper (a Sand Trooper) from Star Wars Episode IV- A New Hope. This is the Stormtrooper who famously said in the film, “These are not the droids you’re looking for. Move along.” David made his costume based on this particular Stormtrooper. It`s an exact replica in the smallest detail and one of the best in Canada. As soon as he showed me picture of his costume, I told myself right away that I had to do something with it and I said to him jokingly, “I’m going to make a Shakespearean short film with your costume.” Three years later, it happened! That was the starting point.

SFF: The Stormtrooper uniforms and weapons look very authentic. How did you get a hold of them?

MCL: David Blouin made the suit himself using still frames from the film. As I mentioned, David is a member of the 501st, which is an international fan-based organization dedicated to the construction and wearing of screen-accurate replicas of Imperial Stormtrooper armor and other villains from the Star Wars universe. When a member is accepted into the organization, they receive a name for their replica. The name of David’s persona is TD-73028. So, that is why I used it in the title of the short film. It is like paying homage to his suit. David used a hi-res picture of the original helmet that was sold at Christie’s so he could have all the smallest details of the helmet used in that scene. I think that is why the short film works; there is a feeling of the real thing that’s happening and the spectator connects to the character right away. Stormtroopers are seen mostly in the background in the Star Wars movies. To put him in the central role and reflect on his purpose in life – that where lays the originality of the proposal, I think.

SFF: Did you have to clear any copyright issues with the Star Wars creators before making the film?

MCL: There are a lot of Star Wars fan films out there, so it’s tolerated by Disney as along has you don’t make money out of it. There is even a fan film competition held by Disney. So, I spent more money making this self-financed short film with a generous and talented crew that followed me in this crazy adventure. My short is made for the festival circuit and it will be online at the end of the year or so.

SFF: What would you like the audience to take away from Squad Leader TD-73028 Soliloquy?

MCL: This is not a fan film in the tradition of the genre. I consider Squad Leader TD-73028 in continuity with my previous work.

When we put these two mythical universes together (that of Star Wars and Shakespeare), it clashes. It creates sparks. Everything can happen in the mind of the spectators and that’s what interesting for me. It’s a reflexive film that offers a pause. We look at this Stormtrooper: this faceless soldier; a pawn in the service of the Rogue; the deserter who reflects on his human condition, questioning the reasons even to exist and on the meaning of his life. We try to humanize this faceless masked soldier. He is often in background in Star Wars movies and this short puts him in the center of the film.

By mixing classics and pop culture together, we can evoke the social and political aspect of today. In that way, there’s a parallel between the Death Star and potential world destruction. In the middle of all this, there is a Stormtrooper; a deserter wondering about his place and purpose in all of this. This faceless soldier; one piece of the puzzle is now reflecting on the meaning of life and so does the spectator, we hope.

This is all the genius and richness of Shakespeare’s text presented as the inner voice of a Stormtrooper. It demonstrates that Shakespeare’s language still echoes down to us through the centuries and remains as relevant today as ever-not to mention as well in a galaxy far, far away…

It’s a very slow and meditative short film. It’s not narrative in a sense that it’s a moment in the life of this Stormtrooper. But, we kind of want it to be very open in this way. A hypnotic feel and slow pace was needed to absorb the famous Shakespeare soliloquy in order to get a sense of the power of the text. Everybody knows the first line, “To be or not to be.” But, few people know the rest. If we can give access or illuminate a new generation to Shakespeare’s writing, our job is done through this film.

 

Short Film Fan Review:

This was an incredible melding of classic and pop cultures. The soliloquy was haunting and spoken at a perfect pace. The replication of the Stormtrooper`s uniform and weapon was spot on. The ominous background music and the heavy breathing added to the severity of the situation. In effect, Squad Leader TD-73028 Soliloquy humanizes a character that is normally portrayed in Star Wars films as a ruthless soldier. For young Star Wars fans that have not had much English literature education, Squad Leader TD-73028 would be a good introduction to one of Shakespeare’s famous plays.

Squad Leader TD-73028 Soliloquy has been screened in numerous film festivals, including Regard International Short Film Fest (Canada) and Busan International Short Film Fest (South Korea). It will be playing at PÖFF SHORTS in Tallinn, Estonia at the end of November and will also screen at Shorts That Are Not Pants in Toronto, also at the end of November. There is no end in sight to its screenings around the world! Congratulations to Maxime, actor David Blouin, and voice-over Anton Golikov for creating and executing this soon-to-be classic short film.

Keep up with Squad Leader TD-73028 Soliloquy on Facebook  and Twitter.

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Explore A Man’s Final Thoughts On War And Love In ‘Zsófika’ (2014)

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

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Single And Alone? Why Not Take Care Of A Dog In ‘Chef de Meute’ (2012)

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:

 

http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/Shows/Canadian+Reflections/ID/2386481406/?page=6

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/

 

Undelivered Postal Items Have Fun In ‘Not Delivered’ (2013)

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.

http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/Shows/Canadian+Reflections/ID/2502863799/

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.

Before You Plan Your Next Dance Party, Consult ‘The Chaperone’ (2013)

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/