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The Stage to Screen Short Film program is a commemorative project created by The Ontario Heritage Trust and producer Glen Wood of ViDDYWELL FiLMS, celebrating the 100th anniversary of The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres. From a bucket-full of ideas, six short films were chosen to be presented as part of the project due to their unique style in capturing the magnificence of Toronto’s iconic landmark.

The Archivist

Director/Writer: Jeremy Ball
Starring: Jesse Dwyre, Peter Messaline
Duration: 10 mins

A young assistant projectionist investigates a series of mysterious happenings and disappearances at the cinema at which he is working, only to find that it is more out of the ordinary that he realizes. The Archivist is beautifully filmed, placing the theatre and all its happenings into what feels like the 1970’s. The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre are at the core of film, keeping the focus as a celebratory piece for the landmark while sticking to the film theme of the festival. With no dialogue whatsoever, composer Darren Fung creates amazing music to match both the story and the mood within each scene. The touch of animation work that appears is done brilliantly as well, creating a very convincing moment in the film. Overall, The Archivist delivers a beautiful mystery that keeps one gripped to their seat from start to finish.

Overall Rating: 4/5

The Archivist

The Good Escape

Director/Writer: Nadia Litz
Starring: Emily Hampshire, Max McCabe-Lokos, Philip Riccio
Duration: 8 min 18 sec

In the good old days, people would go to the theatre to dream and get lost within, while criminals found it a great place to escape to as well. A young criminal (Philip Riccio) decides to take a break in a movie theatre and lie low while another man (Max McCabe-Lokos) chit-chats with his wife (Emily Hampshire) right behind him. The Good Escape puts its focus on the criminal mind, using a public space as a refuge until the opportune moment to escape. The overall purpose of the film can be understood, but the underlining story is a bit tough to grasp at the beginning, although it eventually makes sense at the end. Star power appears in plenty in this film, and Hampshire perfectly builds up the tension in the background. The film is missing one or two pieces that would make the transition between scenes a bit easier, but overall, a nice short to watch.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

The Good Escape

Silent Garden

Director/Writer: Dylan Reibling
Starring: Karyn Dwyer, Frank Chiesurin, Michael Therriault
Duration: 10 min

Black-and-white film is back with Dylan Reibling’s Silent Garden. Remaining a silent film throughout, Reibling brings forward the story of a poor woman loving a talented man, only to become distracted by her love for a film projection. The film uses classic black-and-white film tactics, including quote/text cards for dialogue, amazing music to match the mood/tone of each scene, and of course, great cut scenes (“oh my gosh” moments, for instance). Steve Cupani has done a brilliant job as a composer, really capturing the essence of a silent black-and-white film. There is even an Artist moment, when one hears one bit of dialogue, creating a memorable moment. Reibling has done a fine job with this film. Sure, there are cheesy moments, but this short is a flashback to the “good ol’ days” of filmmaking, and a few cheesy moments are definitely required. This short celebrates the theatre landmark while also keeping the film festival theme in mind. Plus, seeing a film paying homage to the old silent black-and-white films is quite a treat.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Silent Garden

Tiny Dancer

Director/Writer/Editor: Doug Karr
Starring: Jordyn Negri, Jonathan Wilson, Ingrid Rae Doucet
Duration: 8 min 14 sec

A tiny girl, living with her tiny family within the Winter Garden Theatre, longs to jump onto the stage and perform with the beautiful ballet dancers in Tiny Dancer. Doug Karr has put together a film demonstrating how insignificance and fear keep us from achieving our dreams. The film itself looks simple and clean, something that allows for the main character – the tiny girl – to truly shine. The film also places the theatre stage as a focal point, not just within the film, but within the core of the story, weaving together a little girl’s dream to master that stage. With the need to make the tiny family tiny to look at, CGI is used extensively, which does miss the mark once or twice. Plus, one or two performances are not as polished as one would hope. With that said, this film has something going for it: its moral message. Intentional or not, the film highlights the simple point that every aspiring artist, whether small or inexperienced, needs to make an effort to try to achieve their dreams, and it is quite poetic in that way.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Tiny Dancer

Winter Garden

Director/Writer: Alex Epstein
Starring: Enrico Colantoni, Elizabeth Whitmere
Duration: 9 min 17 sec

Alex Epstein presents the story of a successful playwright who desperately tries to renegotiate a deal that he made for his success in Winter Garden. Starring the insanely talented Enrico Colantoni, this film follows his character as he tries to fight off the other pressures of showbiz to find the source of his inspiration. The film puts a spotlight on the concept of draining someone of their creative potential, an occurrence that is not uncommon in the world of showbiz. We here have a writer who has produced hit after hit by reflecting on his own miserable life, and now has reached a complex stage of writer’s block. Colantoni’s acting is brilliant, presenting his character’s inner pain piece by piece before coming to a climatic moment. The supporting cast also does a great job in the film, adding pressure to what is already a pretty unstable and emotional character.  The film did capture one element of the festival – writers – and really kept the focus on the theatre stage.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Winter Garden

Wakening

Director/Story By: Danis Goulet
Writer/Story By: Tony Elliott
Starring: Sarah Podemski, Gail Maurice, Sebastian Koever (Puppeteer)
Duration: 8 min 48 sec

Set in the Winter Garden Theatre, this film by Danis Goulet brings together an ancient aboriginal myth with a post-apocalyptic scenario. What is presented in Wakening is a grittier and more intense film than one may initially expect. In fact, you may feel quite surprised as you recognize locations in Toronto in ruins, completely devastated. You then find a brave young woman (Sarah Podemski) walking upon the ruins of the Winter Garden Theatre, only to face the aboriginal beast, puppeteered by Sebastian Koever. Goulet has taken filmmaking to the border-line with this short film. The theatre, the centre of this film, is given a makeover to really capture the gritty, rough, dark image that the story provides. That is a brave move, especially when one is dealing with a landmark complex. There is then the fact that the story is based around an aboriginal story. This film is not only a celebration of the theatre and its 100th anniversary, but it is also a celebration of Canada and the wonderful, diverse hertiage that it has. No wonder this film received the opening night slot; well deserved.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Wakening