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Savouring the Shorts
by Greg Ursic

I had gone to the media office to return the screeners I had borrowed – because my butt wasn’t sore enough from six hours press screenings at the VanCity theatre – and stopped to talk shop with Ellie O’Day, the Media Director for VIFF. She asked whether I’d had a chance to see any of the shorts. I admitted that, like in festivals past, I had focussed on the features and docs. She mentioned that she’d been impressed by several films in the shorts compilation she’d seen the previous evening and asked if I’d be interested in taking a look. I said “sure” thinking that at best I might be entertained, and at worst I had the benefit of the fast forward button to make them even shorter if necessary.

I went home, popped in the DVD and spent the bulk of the next hour rapt: not only did it showcase some of the most inventive work I’d seen in a very long time; I also discovered that many of the filmmakers happened to be local. I was hooked and asked to, screen two more compilations. I fully expect to see several of these writer/director/filmmakers – most of whom are local - attached to future films in the very near future. If you’re in search of something a little different, look no further.

The following shorts are part of the Microbursts series*

Screening: Wednesday, Oct 10th 9:15pm at the Pacific Cinematheque & Thursday, Oct 11th 4:00pm Pacific Cinematheque

In Shine Mi-Hyang Park’s John’s Untilted Clock a young man walks down the road of his life as memories flit around him. Park uses surrealist animation within relatively traditional linear sequencing. I enjoyed both the visions and the self-introspective nature of the piece

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the combination of John Lennon’s words set to animation is priceless. In John Raskin’s I Met the Walrus the free flowing animation is equal parts The Yellow Submarine and Monty Python, featuring a dizzying onslaught of often abstract imagery stylishly synched with the audio. A must for Beatles fans.

The following short is part of the Cloud Seeding series *

Screening Monday, Oct 8th 9:00pm PCP & Tuesday, Oct 9th 4:00pm PCP

In her follow-up to last year’s Eve and the Fire Horse, Julia Kwan examines the vast cultural milieu that the children of immigrant’s often find themselves thrust into. Smile highlights how something as simple as posing for a family portrait can be complicated by tradition. The carefully chosen dialogue - which switches between English and Chinese to emphasize the dichotomy - and period outfits are enhanced by the collection of 80’s tunes playing in the background.

The following shorts are part of the Storm Surge series

Screening: Sunday, Oct 7th 9:30pm Pacific Cinematheque & Monday, Oct 8th 4:00pm
Pacific Cinematheque

If you’ve ever suffered the ignominy of a stagnant relationship or the daily grind of office politics the die cast cast in Jesse Rosensweet’s Paradise will strike a chord. Wonderfully voiced, it balances weighty subject matter with whimsical comedic timing that calls on your imagination to fill in the blanks.

You know those dreams where you wake up, but are actually still dreaming? For the protagonist of Deco Dawson’s Last Moment every “waking” moment propels him into another dream/nightmare ranging from film noir to urbane slice of life. The series of quick edits, rapidly changing storylines and bouncing camera shots are simultaneously intriguing and disquieting.

Centrigrade’s drunken dad learns that people living in trailers shouldn’t throw punches or there might be consequences. In a similar vein as Steven Spielberg’s classic Duel, Colin Cunningham’s taut morality tale/thriller involves motorized menace and the terror of the unknown. Giving away any more details would ruin the experience but suffice it to say things get too hot for comfort and you’ll think twice about child abuse.

The cast of characters one encounters on public transit often runs the gamut from creative to crazy, but for Madame Tutlli-Putli a train trip turns to terror. Thematically weird and intriguing, you’re never quite sure what’s supposed to be real and what’s imaginary. Chris La Vis and Maciek Szcerbowski’s ingenious melding of puppetry, background animation and lighting is exquisitely executed, but it was their decision to superimpose human eyes on the main character - infusing her with emotion - that is truly inspired. Riveting.

*You can check out some more reviews of these films at:

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originally posted: 10/08/07 15:39:08
last updated: 10/09/07 16:52:58
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