Short films require their own set of techniques and strategies to be effective. Many young and debut filmmakers begin their careers creating shorts, but this year’s Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival features some seasoned professionals as well. As usual, the line-up is as diverse as the filmmakers, and each film offers something unique. Read on for our first set of Canadian Shorts reviews.
Directors: Walter Woodman, Patrick Cederberg
Actors: Sam Kantor, Nina Iordanova, Caitlin McConkey-Pirie
Runtime: 17 min
Rarely do we see an approach to filmmaking that is wholly unique, yet that is exactly what is presented by young debut filmmakers Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg in their short film Noah. This film tells a tale of teenage romance and heartbreak as it plays out entirely on a computer screen. The exchanges shown, from the Skype conversation, to the Facebook chatting, to the round of Chat Roulette, are easily recognizable and so real that it is both amusing and a little frightening. This is actually how young people use their computers to interact, and the film offers a glimpse into what, for many, is a very relatable world.
Using screenshots to tell an entire story is an engaging and ingenious concept, and these smart and witty young directors have clearly played to their strengths. The acting is believable, and the world is thorough; even the accompanying music mimics a teenage boy’s playlist perfectly. Here is a film that actually caused me to laugh out loud, while simultaneously cringing at its realism. Hopefully, there will be much more to be seen from these Canadian up-and-comers.
Director: Chris Landreth
Actors: Don McKellar, John Dilworth
Runtime: 11 min
In Subconscious Password, Academy Award winning director Chris Landreth (Ryan, 2004) presents his vision of the inner workings of the human mind. Using offbeat animation and surrealist imagery, Landreth attempts to depict one man’s struggle to remember the name of another at a party in a wacky throwback to the old fashioned, classic game show Password.
Although the imagery presented in this film is arresting, it is not always possible to follow Landreth’s train of thought. Perhaps this confusion is intentional: the human mind, like this film, does not operate in a straightforward or easily understood manner. However, since I was unable to comprehend what Landreth was attempting to convey, I do not feel as though I was able to fully appreciate this short film, and I ended up as perplexed as his protagonist.
An Extraordinary Person
Director: Monia Chokri
Actors: Magalie Lépine-Blondeau, Anne Dorval, Sophie Cadieux
Runtime: 29 min
Quebec actress Monia Chokri makes her directorial debut with the short An Extraordinary Person, and the result is a sharp and witty social commentary that will leave an audience laughing as they wince. Hung over and confused, Sarah (Magalie Lépine-Blondeau) wants nothing less than to attend a bachelorette party. When she is dragged along to this social event, personalities clash, and a war of words ensues that demonstrates how verbal violence can be as arresting as that which is physical.
Chokri uses raw filmmaking and camerawork to place an audience right in the middle of her story’s action. Several scenes, such as the captivating opener, do not even require dialogue to convey their events. Sarah, with her sharp words and wit, is an easily likeable protagonist, and wacky minor characters provide fun and amusement as well. One may feel a guilty sense of pleasure as they watch this descent into madness, yet the film does address some weighty topics, and certainly results in much food for thought at its conclusion. A winning debut, An Extraordinary Person is worth a watch.