The Canadian Film Fest is an event set in Toronto celebrating Canadian filmmakers where they can showcase their work and network with others in the industry. A non-profit organization, Canadian Film Fest hopes to inspire these filmmakers to continue making motion pictures and to expose Canadian audiences to independent works.
We have created an annual film festival event that the country can be proud of.
– Canadian Film Fest
The festival is open to the public, and runs from March 30th to April 2nd. Today is day one, and I thought I’d discuss the short films showing this year (check out the feature films here). I was lucky enough to watch twelve of the short films, all varied in genre and the topics they covered.
Showing after the feature film How To Plan An Orgy In A Small Town, WORST. DAY. EVER. is about five university students who have the worst day ever. It’s a horror-comedy directed by Adam Goldhammer and written by Katie McMillan that takes the idea of “first-world problems” and turns it up a notch. It was the last short film I watched but it was an incredibly entertaining four minutes. I wondered where it was leading me as it went back and forth between close and long shots, while juxtaposing the charged eerie music with the mundane complaints that the students moaned on about. The destination was fantastic. Thumbs all the way up.
Directed by Tanya Lemke, who wrote the script based on the story of Robert Shearman, Static is about Ernest, played by Eric Peterson (Corner Gas). Ernest notices his television bleeding and tries to get it fixed with the help of a repairman and his son, played by Yannick Bisson (Murdoch Mysteries), who tries to get him to throw it out. The suggestion forces Ernest to retreat into his grief over his wife, projected onto the object, before finally forcing Ernest to give it the send off he didn’t get to give his wife. Peterson played Ernest’s stubbornness and unresolved sadness really well and it was a thoughtful sixteen minutes of film. It definitely had me appreciating the people around me and contemplating the passage of time as well as when to let go. Orphan Black‘s Kristian Bruun also makes an appearance. Static will be showing after the feature film Dead Rush.
The Divorce Photographer focuses on Carla, whose relationship ends just before a wedding photoshoot, which she ruins. She confesses her feelings to her best friend, Kayla, who is going through a nasty divorce. Carla suggests becoming her divorce photographer. Soon others are seeking Carla’s services for their own divorces. It’s a ten minute comedy written and directed by Christine Buijs. While I thought it was a fun idea, it didn’t leave me with any lasting feelings. I did recognize Nicole Stamp (Kayla) from her time on TVO Kids and the webseries Carmilla. It’ll be showing after the feature film The Sabbatical.
Starring Lara Jean Chorostecki (X Company, Hannibal), Evette is a woman obsessed with her neighbours, whose lives she can hear from the other side of the wall that separates them. It’s a film about connection and the search for it. I really enjoyed the presentation of it and the direction was spot on. There’s a scene where Evette’s eavesdropping is visualized on screen by having her interacting with the neighbours, but it’s not a true interaction. One major problem I did have was the sound editing, which wasn’t consistent — pushing a box across the floor is heard halfway through the action. Chorostecki was great for a film that largely takes place in a relatively empty apartment. The short will be showing just after the feature film Jackie Boy.
The Pit is an interesting six minute film directed by Jonathan Steckley. Harvey finds a connection with his female examiner at what looks like an armpit related research. It’s in black and white with a 1950s feel, bolstered by the music. It was weird meet cute and…that’s all I can say about it! Personally, it wasn’t my thing. The film will be a part of a block of short films on Saturday.
As watched Flung, I wondered if it would be a typical story of a girl and a guy who are friends transitioning into becoming more than friends. Steve Lund (Bitten) plays a New Yorker who hosts his long distance pal, played by Meghan Heffern, for a few nights. Soon they establish a fling, but what happens when the weekend ends is the awkward new territory that develops as a consequence. It’s a great short film and left me feeling none of the romantic comedy high for those comfortable endings. I also really love Steve Lund! The film will be a part of a block of short films on Saturday.
Julia Julep is about a six year old girl whose mother dies ends up under the care of her Uncle Jacky. Julia is taken to the giant orange snack bar that her mother and her uncle used to go to that is rumoured to have a magical cure to heal the sick. Julia goes searching for the truth of the snack bar in this fantastical nine minute short that deals with a child’s grief. The young actress playing Julia, Naeva Souki-Hernandez, was a stand out in an otherwise fine film directed and written by Alana Cymerman. I hope to see her in more things after this. The film will be a part of a block of short films on Saturday.
Looking for Today is about a former boxer who is sidelined thanks to an injury he sustained in World War II. He gets hooked on morphine and his girlfriend, Chester, can’t find work. Both try to end their lives. Directed by Dylan Rayne Fitzgerald, this film didn’t express its ideas as clearly as it could have. Pair that up with the poor jump cuts and stilted acting, it wasn’t the greatest seven minutes of story. The film will be a part of a block of short films on Saturday.
Given the current discussions about police brutality in Canada and the US, I was a bit worried as I watched this film about an officer going beyond the call of duty. It could have felt cheesy and overplayed, but what Seán Cullen created, with the direction of Jackie English, a story which rooted the cliché in the personal. It was a smart decision for this particular narrative. The only criticism I have was the choice of music, which was just off. The film will be a part of a block of short films on Saturday.
Jack’s memory is starting to fail him so he has it stored with Keystone, a company whose business is “making your most important memories truly ‘unforgettable’.” One of the most important memories involved a woman from his youth: Evelyn. This felt like a story that has already been explored by other media, but the terrible acting, especially from the interviewer, made it an even harder sell. I didn’t particularly care about the characters and each one of the sixteen minutes were felt. Overall, I do hope that director Ian Foster builds on his experience with his future films, since there is potential here. The film will be a part of a block of short films on Saturday.
Wow. The Substitute is a trippy short film from director Nathan Hughes-Berry and written by Madeleine Sims-Fewer, who also plays the substitute teacher, Ms. Byrd. Ms. Byrd works at an unusual school, where the boys have a hold over the girls who are afraid of a locked door at the back of the class. It’s a film about the entitlement that men think they have over the bodies of women. More specifically, it also examines the real world issues of how gender plays a role in education. While the movie goes to extremes, there has been research into how boys are treated vs girls overall, and this felt informed by that. The team behind this did a great job and I highly recommend checking it out so you can feel unsettled into learning something new. The film will be a part of a block of short films on Saturday.
This film hit me in the gut unexpectedly, which was nice, but it also makes you ponder it even after it’s over. Ten-year-old Joshua tags along with his destructive older brother Kane on an excursion that ends terribly. You form a particular idea about Kane, and the film plays with making the audience re-evaluate that idea, and Kane reevaluating himself via consequences. It was a great fifteen minutes that was shot and paced well. I enjoyed it. The short will be showing just after the feature film: Across The Line.
Other shorts at the festival that I didn’t get to watch include Shavasana (playing after Borealis), Onto Us, Dude, Where’s My Ferret?, Synapse Dance (playing after 20 moves), and The Floaters (playing after Chasing Valentine). Overall, I would have liked to see a more diverse crop of filmmakers behind the lens as well as in front of the camera.
Tomorrow, I tackle the three features I got to watch.