Since its launch in May 2014, Short Film Fan has been proud of its role as a site dedicated solely to Canadian short films. It has not only become a place for film buffs to come and learn about the latest in Canadian shorts, but it has also become a resource for filmmakers. Since last year, there definitely has been an increase in the number of Canadian film producers approaching Short Film Fan with requests to have their films reviewed on the site. Hopefully, this will continue for the remainder of this year and into next year. New subscribers have been signing-up and new followers on social media have emerged. This is a positive sign that Short Film Fan is resonating with the public.
This anniversary is dedicated to everyone who has supported Short Film Fan over the past three years: subscribers, friends, family, colleagues and followers. Your interest in and support of Short Film Fan means a lot and really helps to keep the site going. This 3rd anniversary is especially dedicated to all the Canadian filmmakers who have had their films featured on the site and who graciously took the time out of their busy schedules to answer interview questions. Your participation in and support of Short Film Fan has made it what it is today.
And what anniversary would be complete without quick anniversary video greeting?
Toronto is home to many film festivals, and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is by far the city’s best known. Film buffs from around the world descend upon TIFF each year to watch and enjoy features and shorts from Canada and around the globe. If you’re lucky, you even get a chance to see some of Hollywood’s finest actors as they make their appearance to TIFF. Over the years, TIFF has become a huge cultural event that puts the film spotlight directly on Canada.
For film fans, and for short film fans in particular, you’ll be pleased to know that you can experience TIFF outside of its annual fall programming by way of TIFF Short Cuts. Shown at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in downtown Toronto, TIFF Short Cuts screens a variety of Canadian and world-wide short films. If you’re unable to visit Toronto for any reason and would like to experience TIFF Short Cuts, have no fear. TIFF’s outreach program, TIFF Film Circuit, makes its appearance in many Canadian communities each year.
Short Film Fan reached out to Laura Good, programmer of TIFF Short Cuts and TIFF Film Circuit, to get a better understanding of what Short Cuts is all about and what is planned for Short Cuts programming this year.
Short Film Fan: What is TIFF Short Cuts?
Laura Good: TIFF Short Cuts is a programming stream dedicated to showcasing short film. The year round Short Cuts series is named as an extension of the Short Cuts section at the Toronto International Film Festival. We host monthly screenings that feature the best of international short film, spanning all genres, sensibilities and styles with a focus on innovation, originality, representation and impact.
Short Cuts allows audiences to sample cinema from all over the globe, in one sitting, and in my opinion, it is some of the most important filmmaking in the world. Short film is a birthplace of innovation and is often the first place we see global trends emerge in terms of both content and form. Since the format is able to be nimble and reactive, it is often the most accurate reflection of our current zeitgeist, as well.
SFF: What is your role with Short Cuts?
LG: I program and host the series, so I get to assemble programs of some of the most incredible short filmmaking in the world and present them to Toronto audiences. There are, generally speaking, far less constraints on short filmmakers than on feature filmmakers, so they have more flexibility and creative freedom. I would argue that the same freedom is inherent to short film programming.
Our recent Misfits program celebrated stories about characters who live beyond the artistic, cultural and existential status quo. It’s a beautiful thing be able to explore something like nonconformity through a diverse pack of female skateboarders who resist the patriarchy (Jennifer Reeder’s Crystal Lake), a contemporary ghost story (Connor Jessup’s Boy), and a woman who transforms into a cloud as a defense mechanism (Mark Katz’ aptly named, People Are Becoming Clouds), all in one screening slot. I feel very lucky to get to showcase such boundary-pushing work from the filmmakers who will determine the future of cinema.
I also bring in short film packages of short format work from fellow festivals and organisations. Past collaborations have included the Sundance Shorts Tour, featuring award winners from their festival, curated by Sundance’s own Mike Plante, and The Prism Prize Top Ten, featuring nominees for the prestigious award, which recognizes excellence in Canadian music videos.
SFF: How long has TIFF Short Cuts been going on for?
LG: The year round Short Cuts series has only been taking place since the opening of TIFF Bell Lightbox in 2010, but it has an old soul. TIFF programmer Magali Simard programmed the series for many years and passed the baton on to me last year.
SFF: Where in Toronto can short film fans check out Short Cuts?
LG: You can check out the Short Cuts series at the aforementioned TIFF Bell Lightbox, year-round home of the Toronto International Film Festival and hub for film lovers from Toronto and around the world. Keep an eye on the schedule here: http://www.tiff.net/#short-cuts
SFF: What kind of short films do you typically screen at Short Cuts?
LG: We show the best of world cinema including favourites from the Toronto International Film Festival, such as the hypnotizing documentary montage on the resilience of indigenous peoples across time and space – Mobilize (dir. Caroline Monnet), and the recipient of the Best Short Film award at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, depicting a Senegalese family living in Paris, who find themselves at a crossroads – Maman(s) (dir. Maïmouna Doucouré). We also feature award winners from around the world, such as the Winner of the Horizons Award at the 2015 Venice Film Festival – Belladona (dir. Dubravka Turic), a remarkable Croatian film about perception and female to female empathy, and hidden gems such as the incredibly timely and impeccably cast look at the African American experience After TheStorm (dir. Jessica Oyelowo).
SFF: Do you screen only Canadian shorts at Short Cuts, or do you also feature shorts from other countries?
LG: We screen short films from around the globe. Countries represented in the past year include: Iraq, Germany, Argentina, Australia, Chile, Croatia, France, The United Kingdom, Hungary, Norway, Sweden, U.S.A., Israel and Jordan, to name a few.
It is also a priority to support the incredible filmmaking happening here at home. Every program has Canadian representation. A few Canadian films that we have recently featured include: The GrandfatherDrum (dir. Michelle Derosier), Mobilize (dir. Caroline Monnet), Bacon and God’s Wrath (dir. Sol Friedman), Boy (dir. Connor Jessup), Dredger (dir. Phillip Barker), Her Friend Adam (dir. Ben Petrie), Benjamin (dir. Sherren Lee), and World Famous Gopher Hole Museum (dir. by Chelsea Mcmullan and Douglas Nayler).
SFF: Have any filmmakers come to any of your Short Cuts screenings as guest speakers?
LG: Yes! We aim to have a filmmaker or special guest in attendance at each screening.
Director Phillip Barker and lead actress Alex Paxton-Beasley (known for Dirty Singles and TV’s MurdochMysteries) attended the screening of his visually arresting, fourth wall breaking short, Dredger, which was a part of our Summer Fever program, to talk about experimental filmmaking, sexuality and character. They also spoke about their last collaboration, Malody, and hinted at another to come.
Ben Petrie, who directed the glorious and unforgettable meltdown that is Sundance Award winner and Canada’s Top Ten selection, Her Friend Adam, also joined us to talk about his process and working with TIFF Rising Star Grace Glowicki, for our screening of the Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour.
Connor Jessup, director of the Ozu-inspired and poetically supernatural Boy attended the Misfits program. You may know him as an alumnus of the TIFF Rising Stars program which recognizes talent in front of the camera, such as his performances in Closet Monster and TV’s American Crime. The producer of Boy Ashley Shields-Muir (who also collaborated with Jessup on Little Coffins) joined us as well. They told us all about their influence and gave us a sneak peek into their next short, Lira’s Forest, which they described as having the sensibility of a live action studio Ghibli film!
Sherren Lee, director of Benjamin (a film that tackles LGBTQ adoption and surrogacy), was in attendance for an Intro and Q&A following the screening along with her lead actor Jean-Michel Le Gal to talk about feminism in film and representation in all its forms.
SFF: Many short film fans don’t live in Toronto, and therefore aren’t able to attend Short Cuts easily. Are there ways that they can experience a Short Cuts screening in their own hometown?
LG: TIFF’s national film outreach program, TIFF Film Circuit, brings the best of both short and long format filmmaking to film series’ and film festivals across Canada. Film Circuit works with 170 locations in over 150 communities spanning from Prince Rupert, B.C. to Charlottetown, P.E.I.
I program many of the Canadian shorts that we play at the Short Cuts series at TIFF Film Circuit locations across the country. Some locations show short film packages and others pair short films with features. TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten program travels to many of our locations and the Oscar-nominated Canadian short film Blind Vaysha (which was also an official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival and Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival), is currently prefacing many feature film screenings. Find out if there is a Film Circuit location near you, here: www.tiff.net/filmcircuit/locations
SFF: How has the audience reception been to Short Cuts?
LG: The audiences have been really engaged. One of our highest attended recent screenings was the Emerging Female Voices Spotlight – a collection of short films from some of the world’s most promising emerging female filmmakers. We used the screening as an opportunity to vocalize our commitment to gender parity and intersectional feminism. The gender gap grows dramatically in the space that typically exists between short and feature filmmaking so it’s a vital place to have that conversation. We also used the program as an entry point to a much larger conversation about inclusion, representation and empathic intelligence, and the Toronto short film community rallied!
SFF: Can we get a sneak peek into what you have planned for Short Cuts in 2017?
LG: Absolutely! Our next program – Canada, Animated – focuses on home-grown talent. It takes place on Sunday, March 5th at 1pm and explores what makes the Canadian viewpoint so unique through the work of some of our most exciting new animators. It will include Alisi Telengut’s Nutag – Homeland, a poignant, hand-painted ode to the pain of the displaced Kalmyk people of the Soviet Union, following WWII. Also feature filmmaker Robin Joseph’s Fox and the Whale, an atmospheric tale of curiosity about a fox who is drawn to the sea. Joseph will be in attendance to introduce the film and will be present for a Q&A with the audience, following the program. Take a look at the full program details for Canada, Animated here: http://www.tiff.net/events/canadian-animation
Also upcoming is Spotlight: Clermont Ferrand, a selection of recent favourites from the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival curated by Laurent Guerrier, screening Thursday, April 6th at 9pm. Highlights include Shio Chen Quesck’s Guang, an affecting Malaysian film about a young man who struggles with social interaction but finds comfort in a secret passion and Emma de Swaef and Marc Roels’ fabric based stop motion animation Oh Willy, an absurdist Nordic film about a nudist in mourning, who ventures into the woods to find solace. Take a look at the full program details for Spotlight: Clermont Ferrand here: http://www.tiff.net/events/spotlight-clermont-ferrand
Stay tuned for more programs, to be announced on a seasonal basis, throughout 2017!
Sounds like it’s going to be an excellent year of shorts programming this year at Short Cuts. A big ‘thanks’ goes to Laura and everyone at TIFF for making Canadian shorts accessible via Short Cuts, Film Circuit and TIFF itself. If you happen to catch any of the Canadian shorts at these screenings, be sure to let them know via Twitter @TIFFShortCuts @FilmCircuitTIFF and @TIFF_Net. Don’t forget to include Short Film Fan @shortfilmfan or leave a comment below. Follow TIFF on Facebook, too: https://www.facebook.com/TIFF
When making a short film, one must know how to handle a variety of challenges. Things like weather conditions are certainly out of a filmmaker’s control, as are unforeseen situations such as equipment breaking down. But, what about managing time? Are you struggling with completing your work on schedule? Could you make a short film in 8 days? If you are a new filmmaker and you think you may need to sharpen your time management skills, consider submitting your next short to the Crazy8s Film Festival in Vancouver, BC.
This year’s edition of Crazy8s is taking place on February 25th at 7:00 p.m. at The Centre, located on 777 Homer Street. An after party is set to follow the screening at 9:00 p.m. at Science World on 1455 Quebec Street. Among the hundreds of applicants that submitted their films to the organization, six teams of filmmakers were chosen to produce their shorts in 8 days. The winning films that will be screened are:
Ahn Hung (by director/writer Lelinh Du and writer/producer Frazer MacLean).
Cypher (by director/writer Lawrence Le Lam, writer/producer Nach Dudsdeemaytha and writer Jerome Yoo).
No Reservations (by director/writer Trevor Carroll and producer Ben Mallin).
The Prince (by director/writer Kyra Zagorsky and producers Janene Carlton, Robin Nielsen, Danielle Stott Roy and Patrick Sabongui).
The Undertaker’s Son (by director/writer/producers The Affolter Brothers).
Woodman (by director Mike Jackson, writer Peter New and producers Rory Tucker, Avi Glanzer and Rozlyn Young).
Short Film Fan got in touch Alicia Bernbaum, Crazy8s Associate Producer, to learn more about the festival:
Short Film Fan: What is the Crazy 8s film event?
Alicia Bernbaum: The Crazy8s film event is not your typical film contest – it’s an 8 day filmmaking event plus a gala screening and after party. We provide sponsorship opportunities, funding and acceleration tools like workshops and script editing to 6 teams after a video and in-person pitch judging session. Crazy8s has now produced and brought to life 103 short films since 1999.
SFF: What kinds of filmmakers are eligible to participate in Crazy8s?
AB: Crazy8s is open to all levels of Canadian filmmaker but prides itself on supporting the best up and coming directors and their teams. The production crew is often made up of seasoned professionals and new industry members who are collaborative and excited to work together.
SFF: What makes Crazy8s different from other film festivals in Canada?
AB: The films you see at Crazy8s are made in 8 days and then screened a week later with all of the sound, color and editing you would expect to see on professional big budget films. It’s really amazing what is accomplished. This year the gala is February 25th at The Centre and the after party is at Science World.
SFF: What can viewers expect to see at this year’s edition of Crazy8s?
AB: You can expect to see 6 films that reflect how the new generation feel about today and how they view society.
SFF: What would like the audience to take away from attending the festival?
AB: We would like the audience to be able to make their own judgments about the films, open up conversations and know that all of these projects were made possible because a community came together for a united cause – storytelling.
We hope everyone will have a good time at Crazy8s this year. For more information about the festival, including how to get tickets for the event, go to: http://crazy8s.film/ If you are at the festival and see a film that you like, Tweet out the title along with the handles @Crazy8sFilm and @shortfilmfan or leave a comment below.
The weekend is almost here, and what better way to enjoy it than to attend a local film festival and get caught up on the latest in Canadian and international short films. If you happen to be in Vancouver for the weekend, and are fan of British Columbia-made short films, you are in for a treat.
The Vancouver Short Film Festival (VSFF) will be taking place January 27th and 28th at Vancity Theatre with 28 shorts to be screened altogether. The festival dates back to 2005, when it was known as the Vancouver Student Film Festival. In 2009, the name was changed to Vancouver Short Film Festival as professional filmmakers began to be featured alongside their student counterparts.
Short Film Fan caught up with Vancouver Short Film Festival Co-Director Kristyn Stilling to learn more about the festival, including why the festival was started and what the audience can expect to experience by attending.
Short Film Fan: Why was the Vancouver Short Film Festival launched in the first place?
Kristyn Stilling: The Vancouver Short Film Festival (VSFF) was started to celebrate the vibrant community of short film, video, and animation artists on the Canadian West Coast. We hope to build ties between emerging and established professionals, and provide an arena where all short filmmakers, including students, can screen their films in public and support their fellow colleagues. Our ultimate goal is to connect short filmmakers to a broader audience in order to grow the local film industry.
SFF: Do the shorts originate from Vancouver only, or do they also come from other parts of British Columbia?
KS: To be eligible for the festival, the films must have a BC Resident Cast or Crew on their project. VSFF celebrates all the filmmaking crafts, as well as filmmakers from other countries who are currently living in Vancouver.
SFF: Are the shorts a mix of professional and student-made films?
KS: They are! This year we have 8 student films.
SFF: Will there be an opportunity for the audience to meet any of the filmmakers?
KS: After each screening there will be a Q&A with the filmmakers in attendance. There are also networking opportunities at our Opening Reception, Closing Gala, and in between the screenings. VSFF is a community that brings filmmakers and film lovers together.
SFF: What would like the audience to take away from attending the festival?
KS: A sense of community. VSFF prides itself on supporting and celebrating the best our province has to offer and we are incredibly thankful to our audience and sponsors for coming back year after year to support local BC filmmaking and storytelling.
We wish everyone at Vancouver Short Film Festival all the best for a successful and fun festival. To get your tickets or to find out what films are playing and when, please visit their website at: http://www.vsff.com/vsff-2017-program. Follow them on Twitter and like their Facebook page to get the latest in news and information coming from the festival.
Hey short film fans: if you really liked any of the shorts this weekend, why not Tweet it out to @VSFF and to @shortfilmfan, or post a comment about it below?
There are two anniversaries being celebrated at the University of Winnipeg this year, and what better way to have a party than to hold an exhibition of short films made by current and former staff and students at its own art gallery.
Moving Images is taking place at the University of Winnipeg’s Gallery 1C03 in honour of the University’s 50th anniversary of its charter and the Gallery’s 30th anniversary of its opening. The event is on between January 12 and February 18, 2017, and includes panel discussions, a collage exhibition and short film screenings. A total of 23 shorts will be presented and are organized into five different cinematic themes:
Moving Images is co-curated by Jennifer Gibson, Gallery 1C03 director and curator, and Alison Gillmor, art historian and film critic. Short Film Fan reached out to Jennifer and Alison to learn more about the shorts being screened at this fascinating exhibition:
Short Film Fan: Why were these five particular themes chosen for Moving Images?
JG & AG: They came about rather organically; we found that particular approaches and ideas were being dealt with by multiple artists and so we found ourselves grouping those works together. That being said, there are no hard and fast rules in terms of which films are part of specific themes or programs. A number of them – Shimby Zegeye-Gebrehiwot’s yaya/ayat, to give one example – could be screened in multiple programs.
SFF: How difficult was it for you to choose the final list of shorts to be screened at the exhibit?
JG & AG: It was very challenging. Winnipeg has such a rich community of artists. There are many more fabulous works that we would have liked to include. If we had more funding, we would have been able to present even more films.
SFF: Will there be an opportunity to meet any of the featured filmmakers?
JG & AG: Yes! Guy Maddin and a number of the other artists were at the opening reception last week and Guy spoke with his colleague Evan Johnson on Thursday evening about archival influences in their on-line film project Séances.
There will be two more opportunities to hear filmmakers discuss their work. University of Winnipeg English Studies professor Andrew Burke will moderate a discussion on cinematic experimentalism with artists Mike Maryniuk, Sol Nagler and Rhayne Vermette on Monday, January 30 at 7:00 p.m. in UW’s Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall.
On Thursday, February 9 at 7:00 p.m. the University’s Chair in the History of Indigenous Arts in North America Julie Nagam will lead a discussion with artists Danishka Esterhazy, Freya Bjorg Olafson and two members of The Ephemerals collective, Jaimie Isaac and Jenny Western. That event also takes place in Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall.
SFF: Are there any plans for the Moving Images exhibition to return next year?
JG & AG: Moving Images is a special project that has been organized in honour of Gallery 1C03’s 30th anniversary and the University of Winnipeg’s 50th anniversary to celebrate the talent of the University community – all of the artists are alumni, current or former students, and current or former faculty and instructors. We did not envision it as an annual project but there are certainly plenty more fantastic works that could be screened. It’s a great idea to consider a follow-up.
SFF: What do you hope the audience will take away from this exhibition?
JG & AG: We’re hoping that people will get some sense of the depth and range of artists’ films in Manitoba, not just with established names like Guy Maddin, but also among a younger generation often working with pop culture references and experimental techniques, and often referencing urgent social and political issues. There are a lot of artists using film and video in innovative and personal ways.
Complementing the Moving Images event is an exhibition of Guy Maddin’s collages and the presentation of his Seances project with Evan and Galen Johnson. This work is also on view January 12 to February 18, and can be seen in the University of Winnipeg Library’s Hamilton Galleria space. A downloadable pdf publication related to Moving Images is also in the works and will be made available online toward the middle or end of February. Please check back at Gallery 1C03’s website: www.uwinnipeg.ca/art-gallery.
If you’re in the Winnipeg area in January and February, you can catch the shorts screenings at Gallery 1C03 Monday to Friday, 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. and on Saturdays, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Admission to the shorts, panel discussions and collage exhibit is free and open to the public. Both venues are wheelchair accessible locations.
Happy anniversary, University of Winnipeg and Gallery 1C03! Thanks for making Canadian short films a part of your celebration.
Hey, short film fans: if you happen to catch a short or two that you really liked, let us know! Send a Tweet out to @1c03 and to @shortfilmfan. Or, post a comment below.
With a new year upon us, many people will take the time to sit down and reflect upon the past and make plans for the future. Some of us will map out a goal to lose weight or to take a course and learn something new. For others, looking for a new job and starting a new career are on top of their lists. In today’s economy, it feels like it is getting tougher for job seekers to get noticed and to find opportunities to shine in job interviews. When a person does manage to latch on to that coveted foot in the door, he or she only has a moment to make a good impression and hopefully land that new job. But what happens when that job interview that you were looking forward to earlier suddenly becomes a struggle? How do you turn an interview around that is headed in the wrong direction?
The short film Interview (2016) could offer you some answers. Directed by Ryan Kayet and produced by Dave Gibson, Interview was written by Ryan Kayet and Ashan Butt, and stars Richard Young as ‘Rik’ and Charlie Ebbs as ‘Colin’. Rik is given a chance of a lifetime when his cousin helps him secure an interview with her boss, Colin. As soon as Rik enters Colin’s office, however, things do not go as he had hoped. Colin dismisses Rik’s qualifications and attempts to educate Rik on what he looks for in an ideal candidate. The interview becomes a battle of wits between the two men, with Rik finding the strength and courage to challenge Colin, take control, and turn the meeting around in his favour. Check out the film’s trailer below:
Short Film Fan recently reached out to Ryan for some of his thoughts about Interview:
Short Film Fan: What motivated or influenced you to make Interview?
Ryan Kayet: My good friend, who also happens to be a talented writer, Ahsan Butt, and I had wanted to work on a project together for some time. Interview was created out of our desire to tell a story that featured strong characters in a situation where the power shifts back and forth. When creating the script for Interview, we filtered through multiple different plot lines and ideas before Ahsan came up with one that would be the story’s defining moment – Rik refusing to leave and demanding to be interviewed. This was the point that I could see it becoming a short film and one that I wanted to make.
SFF: What particular challenges did you experience when making the film?
RK: I was really fortunate to have two great actors (Richard Young and Charlie Ebbs) playing the leads because this was a challenging, dialogue heavy script. I spent a lot of time working with the actors in rehearsal. We broke down the characters, created their back story, and searched for the subtext within the dialogue. Because of the way it was written, we really needed to have this prep work to nail the portrayal of the realistic and deep characters. So that was a challenge, but one that was very fun and rewarding! From a technical perspective, making a short film that is a continuous dialogue scene, with two actors, and in one location poses a few challenges as well. I spent a lot of time during pre-production developing the shot list to ensure that camera movements and angles would in service to the story and the characters, while also keeping the audience engaged.
SFF: Colin had placed many obstacles in front of Rik during the interview. In your opinion, what was the biggest obstacle that Rik had to contend with?
RK: Rik had a lot to deal with, but his biggest obstacle was not even being considered before entering the room. Colin, whether it was because of his bias or simply not being interested, had no intention of taking Rik seriously; he just wanted to give some advice, toot his own horn, and dismiss Rik. So when Rik takes a little control and demands to be interviewed, it is a big moment. It is this action that shows the strength and depth of his character. It’s a rather audacious move, and the point at which most people would certainly not dare to follow as the stakes for repercussions grows much higher. Ahsan, Dave Gibson (the producer) and I are always drawn to these moments in a story, because it reflects what we would like to do, but decide (perhaps wisely) not to.
SFF: What lessons, if any, would you like the audience to learn from Interview?
RK: In setting out to create this story, I didn’t intend to give people a “take away” of any sorts. One of the most powerful things a film can do is accurately reflect an aspect of our own society in a way that is honest and promotes empathy. There was a lot of effort put in to make sure that Colin wasn’t portrayed as evil, like some villain out of an after school special. He obviously has his flaws, and some unchecked biases, but if he was overtly and unrealistically prejudicial, I don’t think this film would resonate. At our last screening, we had numerous people talk to us about how much they could relate to Rik’s situation, and how closely it reflected their feelings. Honestly, that’s all I can ask for.
Short Film Fan Review: From start to finish, Interview was a riveting 19-minute short. Colin’s preoccupation with his mobile phone within the first one and a half minutes into the film was a tip that things were not going to go well between the two gentlemen. Rik’s determination and Colin’s arrogance were scripted well and complemented both of these characters. It was easy to relate to and feel for Rik’s character, as most job seekers have experienced at least one bad interview at some point in their lives. In some ways, you could see that Colin was in a bind as an employer. Since his employee Angie (who we did not see in the film) had recommended Rik, and she presumably got along with Colin, he probably felt that he had to entertain Angie’s request of meeting up with Rik in order to show that he was a good boss. The dialogue was very realistic and it felt like as if you were in that room experiencing the interview in person. Interview is highly recommended watching for interviewers and interviewees, alike. Watch out, interviewers: make sure you know how to handle yourself in an interview better than Colin did.
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:
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?
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 AsOne. 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.
Are you a new and upcoming filmmaker who is passionate about animation? Are you up to the challenge of making an animated short that is only one minute long? If so, then the National Film Board’s Hothouse program is for you. In its eleventh year, Hothouse is an intense 3-month paid apprenticeship program aimed at giving a select group of new and talented filmmakers the opportunity to work with and be mentored by a variety of NFB filmmaking experts. At the end of the program, each participant will emerge skilled and experienced in animation filmmaking.
Although the apprenticeship normally takes place at the NFB Animation Studio in Montreal, this year’s six apprentices worked out of his or her local NFB studio. The theme for this year’s films was ‘Found Sound 2.0’ whereby the films were created based on unusual or unique sound clips. The filmmaker had the choice to use pre-selected clips found online by the NFB Hothouse team or an audio clip of the intern’s choosing.
This year’s participants were Rhayne Vermette from Winnipeg, Curtis Horsburgh from Victoria, Catherine Dubeau and Pascaline Lefebvre from Montreal, Lorna Kirk from Halifax, and Duncan Major from St. John’s. Their Hothouse films can be found on the NFB’s website at https://www.nfb.ca/playlist/hothouse/
Besides accessing them online, these shorts are making their rounds at festivals, including this weekend’s Gimli Film Festival. For some of his thoughts about NFB Hothouse, Short Film Fan reached Jon Montes, producer at the North West Studio in Winnipeg:
Short Film Fan: What is the main purpose or goal of the NFB’s Hothouse?
Jon Montes: Hothouse was started about eleven years ago at the NFB’s Animation Studio in Montreal as a way of giving emerging animators an opportunity to work in a professional production cycle, but with a compressed timeline and a pretty invigorating group dynamic. It’s an intense production environment. At the end of three months, you come out with a polished 1 minute animation where, instead of doing it all yourself, you’ve had a chance to work with an experienced production team, sound designers, editors, and of course lowly producers. But as Michael Fukushima, executive producer of the Animation Studio in Montreal likes to say, the most important film you make in Hothouse is your next one. Opening up doors to professional animation production is really the key here.
SFF: How many Hothouse apprentices do you take in per year?
JM: Usually Hothouse is a group of six animators, though we have done some partnerships with other countries before where we also hosted animators from Brazil (Hothouse 4, 2007) and Mexico (Hothouse 10, 2014). In each of those editions, we had 8 animators. We get a strong number of applications each year from across the country. In this last edition, we received over one hundred submissions, which means that we could only accept less than 6% of those.
SFF: Why are these shorts only one minute long?
JM: One minute might not seem like a lot, but it’s an incredible amount of work. Hothouse takes animators from concept through development into production and post-production. Doing all that in just three months is a tall order – especially considering that animators are pushing out films frame by frame! That’s 1440 frames (60 secs x 24 frames per second) for those of you keeping track. But the more interesting reason to limit films to one minute is that is really forces animators to hone their skills as storytellers. One minute is actually a fairly large canvas in terms of what can be done, but it requires that animators focus on story, paring it down to its most interesting essence. Developing those skills are a huge part of the Hothouse, and we spend a lot of time discussing pushing participants to stretch their limits in terms of what’s possible on a narrative level.
SFF: Have any previous Hothouse films gone on to be made into longer shorts or feature animated films for the NFB?
JM: Every Hothouse film is a stand-alone piece, a self-contained nugget of animation storytelling, so we don’t try to expand them into longer pieces. Still, Hothouse is an amazing way for the NFB to discover animation talent across the country. Just to mention a few, Hothouse alumni include: Howie Shia, whose last film with the NFB, BAM, premiered at TIFF; Dale Hayward and Sylvie Trouvé, who led the stop motion production for the feature film The Little Prince and are in production for their new animated short Bone Mother with the NFB; Malcolm Sutherland, who was part of the very first edition of Hothouse in 2004 and just served as the mentoring director for the last edition, and Patrick Doyon, who followed up his Hothouse film Square Roots, with the NFB-produced and Oscar-nominated Sunday/Dimanche. All to say, a huge number of Hothouse alumni (70 in total!) continue to direct and animate on a professional basis. It’s a beautiful way to come full circle.
Rhayne Vermette explains why she became a filmmaker and talked about her experiences as one of the NFB Hothouse apprentices. Her film, UFO, can be seen below:
Short Film Fan: Who or what inspired you to become a filmmaker?
Rhayne Vermette: I was studying architecture and my work was quite concerned with more psychological effects , so I started making short animations with paper models as a way to pursue my investigations more cinematically. Making film seemed to be more a natural method of working for me – rather than making building proposals, so I just stuck with it.
SFF: How did you hear about Hothouse and what made you apply?
RV: One of the local producers here in Winnipeg suggested I apply.
SFF: What was the experience like for you professionally?
RV: It was interesting. I already have a fairly secure practice and method of working so didn’t get much out of the NFB’s methods of group “workshopping” work.
SFF: What are your recommendations to anyone who is interested in participating at Hothouse?
RV: There is this bizarre group critique process surrounding the program, I think it can get pretty overwhelming and daunting. I would suggest to anyone that they have the courage to stick to their vision as see fit.
Short Film Fan Commentary: These short animation films were fun to watch. It is amazing to see and experience the kind of filmmaking creativity that is out there in Canada. No doubt, the task of producing a one minute short animated film from a sound clip can seem daunting for new filmmakers. But in the end, new animated short films are made for short film fans to enjoy and new Canadian filmmaking careers are born. Looking forward to seeing the talent that emerges from Hothouse 12 next year. Thanks, NFB!
It has been a hot summer so far in Canada, and this season’s Short Film Face Off on CBC definitely played a part in the rising heat levels. For the past three weeks, fans of Canadian short films tuned in to the program and witnessed nine sizzling filmmakers burn their way up the points scale for a chance to win a $45,000 film production prize generously sponsored by Telefilm Canada and William F. White International.
This season’s fourth and final episode of Short Film Face Off began with the re-introduction of the three finalists: Mark Slutsky (Never Happened), Mike Fardy (Moving On) and Hector Herrera (The Ballad ofImmortal Joe). All three films were re-screened for the viewers and studio audience, the directors spoke briefly about the production of their films, and panelists Mohit Rajhans, Nadia Litz and Eli Glasner shared their parting comments to Mark, Mike and Hector.
Three alumni of Short Film Face Off were also featured in small interview clips throughout the show. James Stewart, Stephen Dunn and Ashley McKenzie let the audience know about what new projects they were working on and how appearing on Short Film Face Off was a boon to their filmmaking careers. Last year’s Short Film Face Off winners BJ Verot and Brad Crawford were also interviewed and shared the exciting news that one of their recent film projects had made it all the way to Cannes.
Viewers from coast to coast had the opportunity last weekend to vote for their favourite film and the ultimate winner of the $45,000 prize. To present the award to the winner, Francesca Accinelli, Telefilm Canada’s Director of National Promotion & Communications, joined host Steve Patterson to make the exciting announcement. In the end, this season’s winner was Mike Fardy! Congratulations, Mike!
Kudos also goes out to Mark and Hector for making it to the final round. You can catch tonight’s season finale, the three previous episodes and all nine shorts at CBC Player.
This season’s Short Film Face Off had an excellent variety of professionally-crafted shorts produced by filmmakers from across the country. It is good to have a program like Short Film Face Off available to Canadian audiences. Not only is it an unique platform Canadian filmmakers to be seen and to get a boost in their careers, it also gives fans and admirers of the genre access to a vast array of shorts that they may not otherwise get a chance to see. The show’s intimate format brings the audience and producer closer together and having the films accessible on the website makes it easier for fans to find them and to watch them again and again.
Next year is Short Film Face Off’s 10th anniversary. It will be interesting to see which films will be featured and if any special events will take place around its milestone year. Maybe some special award will be handed out on the show, such as a People’s Choice Award or a 10th Anniversary Award for an alumnus of the program. Looking forward to Season Ten!
National Canadian Film Day is coming up on April 20th. Schools, theatres and libraries will be screening Canadian films in honour of the nation’s rich filmmaking industry. Thanks to Reel Canada and the generous of support of a wide number of partners and sponsors, Canadians will have a chance to view a wealth of Canadian cinema titles that they may not otherwise have access to.
Along with feature-length movies, Canadian short films will also have their chance to shine. Under the title Great Canadian Shorts, fans can go online to see if a short film screening will take place in their community on that day.
As you make your way to that theatre or library, ask yourself this question: why do you like Canadian short films? Specifically, what is it about Canadian short films that attracts and keeps your attention? What motivates you to go out of your way to search for and watch Canadian short films? What is in a Canadian short film that you like so much that you can’t find in any other movie or film?
Short Film Fan recently put the question “Why do you like Canadian short films?” out to a few of the participating community partners of National Canadian Film Day. Here is what they had to say:
Susan Baues, Innisfil Library & ideaLAB: “Canadian short film is the perfect vehicle for succinctly encapsulating the essence of what makes us Canadian. The stories range from an expression of the national obsession with hockey, as in the classic The Sweater, to First Nations interpretation of an extraterrestrial encounter in Lisa Jackson’s The Visit, to an examination of class relations in Runaway by animator Cordell Barker. The common element in these diverse themes is the Canadian perspective and humour we bring to them. Canadian short film tells the Canadian story through our own lens. One of my favourite Canadian shorts is A Sea Turtle Story which beautifully illustrates the sea turtle life cycle, as well as the variety of hazards faced by these endangered creatures. Innisfil Public Library is pleased to participate in Canadian National Film Day and to have the opportunity to bring these films to a wider audience.”
Chantale Boileau, Barrie Public Library: “I am always surprised by the quality of short films both locally (BFF Shorts) and from the NFB, but I shouldn’t be! As consumers, we are exposed to a lot of feature length films and film trailers while we have to actively seek out short films to watch. The NFB Film Club provides our library the opportunity to screen NFB shorts for teens, children and adults, exposing our community to short films. Short films are perfect for screening in open spaces in the library, allowing customers to sit and watch one without having to stay to watch them all. We use our Xbox and TV in our teen area, as well as our Smartboard in the public spaces for this purpose. The films we are screening for National Canadian Film Day are all National Film Board short silent films. My favourite short in our series is The Railrodder (1965). Buster Keaton’s humour mixed with an almost non-stop cross-Canada adventure makes for a captivating cinematic experience. From his unbelievable arrival in Canada to his accelerated and civilized tour by ‘speeder’, a railway maintenance vehicle, you are guaranteed to be belly laughing. I want one of those endless red boxes, he has everything he needs for this trip.”
Jack Blum, executive director of Reel Canada, also contributed his thoughts about the draw of Canadian shorts:
“Short films have played an incredibly important role in Canada’s cinema history, particularly in the field of animation where the National Film Board was a consistent innovator in the field and garnered so many Oscar wins and nominations for its work over the years. Pioneers like Norman McLaren, Ryan Larkin and more recently Cordell Barker, Chris Landreth, Wendy Tilby & Amanda Forbis, have burnished Canada’s reputation around the world with their brilliant work. On another level – and this is true in any country – short films provide a critical entry point for young filmmakers trying to learn their craft and establish their creative voice, and as such it will always be important to help these films reach an audience that can provide the artist with that all-important dialogue about their work.”
There are definitely a lot of reasons why Canadian short films are so appealing to many of us. They reflect our diversity and our humour. They have a certain quality about them and their short length can be enjoyed at one’s convenience. They have trailblazed Canadian cinema and helped launch careers of many Canadian filmmakers past and present.
What are your reasons for liking Canadian shorts? Think about them as you sit back and enjoy them on April 20th. Tweet out your thoughts or leave a comment below.