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.
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.
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.
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.
If you’re an up and coming filmmaker from Saskatchewan who is looking for a chance to work with industry professionals to make his or her own short documentary, the National Film Board has a new program especially for you.
Driven by the NFB’s North West Studio and a Saskatchewan production and mentorship team, Doc Lab Saskatchewan will bring three emerging creators into a professional production environment to write, shoot, and edit their short documentary ideas.
Between September 4 and November 17, 2017, each filmmaker will complete a 5–7 minute documentary, working closely with an NFB production team and local director-mentors to take ideas from treatment through production and post-production.
One winner from Saskatoon, one from Regina, and one from rural Saskatchewan will be selected following the call for proposals, which runs until Friday, July 14, 2017. The three completed films will be launched in November 2017.
“I’m really excited about what this means for directors across the province. Doc Lab Saskatchewanis right in line with other NFB emerging creator programs which have kickstarted the careers of a lot of great filmmakers. So I’m looking forward to reading some terrific applications and seeing them come to life,” said Montes.
While previous non-fiction film experience isn’t necessary, participants are expected to have a working knowledge of film or media-making, with a maximum of three independent projects to their credit. Doc Lab Saskatchewan also includes travel to NFB headquarters in Montreal for final post-production.
Good luck to all the applicants! Short film fans from Canada and around the world will be waiting patiently for these short documentaries to premiere in November. Maybe one of them could be reviewed right here on Short Film Fan?
It is always a pleasure to receive guest articles from Short Film Fan readers. This week’s article was submitted by Wayne Rowley from Winnipeg, MB. Wayne is an avid musician and a devoted dad who loves short films. Wayne’s article is a review of a short film that examines the importance of making healthy human connections.
The Desire For Connectivity
This world we live in is moving at such a fast pace that it is getting more challenging every day to keep up. We are so inundated with smartphones, internet, news, social media, apps, and gadgets. Yet with all this “connectivity”, there are an alarming number of people who are feeling more separated and alone than ever before. We are staring into the eyes of our iPhone. We are spending a quiet night/weekend/series with Netflix and Facebook.
The Girl Next Door is an eerie and dark examination of one woman’s desire for connection while living under a cloud of separation and isolation. Starring Lara Jean Chorostecki and produced by Lauren MacKinlay, Peter Mabrucco and Farah Merani, the film begins when Evette (Chorostecki) finds herself alone in an apartment after being released from some from type of hospital (possibly due to an addiction, mental illness or some other issue). Her only contact is from Joy (a therapist or probation officer) via her phone. She has no other human contact and is in virtual isolation until she hears a couple next door. Through the walls she becomes obsessed with their lives due to her need for contact and sheer loneliness. Watch the film below:
Short Film Fan recently reached out to Lauren and Peter to learn more about why they produced The Girl Next Door, including what lessons could be learned from the film.
Short Film Fan: What motivated or influenced you to produce The Girl Next Door?
Lauren MacKinlay: Peter and I had just finished an awesome working experience together on Vincenzo Natali’s short film for “The ABCs of Death 2” and knew we wanted to do another project together soon. Peter showed me this script that Greg Carere had so beautifully crafted and there were several elements that attracted me immediately: the “one woman show” nature of the piece (I’m a huge advocate for female-driven stories), the themes of isolation and connectivity, and the striking visuals that the content laid out. We instantly knew this was the script to do and the only person we could see playing Evette was Lara Jean Chorostecki, and with the addition of my longtime producing partner, Farah Merani, our little team was born.
SFF: What particular challenge or challenges did you face when making this short?
Peter Mabrucco : The biggest challenge in directing this piece was figuring how to make shooting in one room not be stale – which isn’t as scary when you have an actor like Lara Jean who has such an incredible presence. While we specifically set out to shoot a script that was contained in one location for budgetary reasons, we also knew it was going to be a challenge when we started this project – which added to the excitement! We figured if you’re not challenging yourself and aren’t in some way scared of what you’re shooting, you’re not doing it right.
SFF: Why was it significant for Evette to cut pictures out from magazines and tape them on her wall?
LM & PM: For Evette, social interaction is a challenge. As Evette listens in on the lives of Beth and James, cutting up and placing pictures on the wall is a way to help her visualize the life they lead. As she fills in the calendar of their lives on the wall, she may place images representing the various aspects: a map showing locations of where they go, images of buildings they frequent, or activities they enjoy, as a way to fill in the gaps. It’s a way for her to connect with them, to create a relationship, all the while staying safely within the confines of her home; a visual manifestation of her simultaneous longing for and fear of connection.
SFF: What has the audience reception towards the film been like since its release?
LM & PM: We have had incredible reception for the film and have been fortunate to be selected for several great film festivals. We even took home the Prodigy Auteur Prize from the Amsterdam Festival, which was a big day for Team GND! The best take-away is that everyone gets something different from it. Some people think Beth and James are real people and truly her neighbours, others think it’s all in Evette’s head. To hear the debate between the two thoughts is amazing to see/hear.
SFF: What message or messages did you want to get across to the audience with The Girl Next Door?
LM & PM: With technology in today’s world, accessibility and connection are supposed to be improved – yet the opposite seems to have happened. While it was supposed to make connection with others easier – which it has on a macro, global scale – on the micro side, the intimate connections between people have been lost in the foray. We live in a world of projected lives through the filters of social media. All Evette wants is a human connection, and she’s unsure of how to get it. The Girl Next Door can be seen as a cautionary tale of what a life will look like without being able to connect to others.
Short Film Fan Review
Lara Jean does a magnificent job of becoming her character and you really feel her loneliness and desire for contact. When things change and the woman next-door tells her partner that she’s moving to Paris, it is devastating for Evette. She then becomes extremely desperate and agitated when she no longer hears the couple through the walls. This eventually leads her to leave the apartment (in spite of feeling terrified) in a last-ditch effort for contact.
It is very easy to lose yourself in the film as it is very well acted, directed and edited. The subtle music and sound effects (voices in her head that gradually get louder) are very effective in adding to the emotional tension that is building in the mind of Evette.
The highlight of the film occurs when Evette is listening through headphones during a romantic dinner the couple is having and is transported into their apartment via her imagination and has a seat at their table. It was a real creative touch that allows us to peak into the window of her mind.
One interesting observation is the shirt that Evette is wearing has a picture of a motorcycle on it. This is can be seen as juxtaposition to the freedom that she doesn’t have.
As an afterthought, perhaps Evette could have looked increasingly more disheveled throughout the film in order to mirror the inner turmoil that she is experiencing.
Overall, The Girl Next Door is a very well-done film and is worth seeing several times. Congratulations to all that were involved in making this film!
If you’re a keen TV viewer, you probably recognized Lara Jean from such programs as Hannibal, Designated Survivor and X-Company. We hope to see her in more short films in the future.
Lauren and Peter are very excited to announce that The Girl Next Door has been picked up by the video on-demand platform, Seed & Spark. If viewers want to see the short in its entirety, as well as many other exquisite projects curated by a team that devotedly supports independent filmmakers, they should sign up for an account and stream it today.
The ability to connect with others is very important for one’s physical, mental and spiritual well-being. The Girl Next Door is certainly a chilling reminder of the consequences that can befall someone when he or she fails to connect properly with other human beings. Thanks to Lauren and Peter for reaching out to Short Film Fan with The Girl Next Door and good luck with your future short film projects. Give them a follow on Twitter @GNDfilm to see what they are up to next!
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.