The World Wide Shorts kicked off this Tuesday at the Bloor Cinema in downtown Toronto. This film festival only showcases short films, and does an impressive job bringing stories from around the world to our Toronto doorstep. I had the chance to speak with Tania Reilly, one of the festival programmers and she brought some great insight into what programmers specifically look for, the grueling process of creating and controlling 33 Official Selection programs (quiet insightful to hear how they reverse engineer each festival) what the ideal running length is for a short, and a few touching personal discoveries that will inspire you to jump aboard this year’s festival and next years. What is great for everyone out there is that even if you submit your film, and it doesn’t screen it becomes part of the Festival’s Film Market, and last year, over 400 shorts were sold, and only 200 had been in scheduled programming. That’s great news for all short/independent filmmakers. Check out what Tania had to say over here…
Interview with Tania Reilly (Part 1)
Interview with Tania Reilly (Part 2)
My morning continued touching base with Jow Loewen, a Program Manager at the National Screen Institute here in Canada. Joy has been a great mentor to me over the years, and its great to have finally met face to face. If any of you Canadians out there haven’t heard of the great programs put forth by the NSI, I urge you to check out their website, http://www.nsi-canada.ca. Each year the NSI Drama Prize mentors and helps finance film teams from across the nation. Plus…should I mention Eugene Levy was sitting at the table across from us…? I just did!
The night kicked off with a filmmaker’s networking event at the trendy Yorkville restaurant Sassafraz. Just remember, if you are ever nervous to network with your fellow writers, producers and directors out there…all these events are usually open bar, or if you’re like me, catered. So go, see who you can meet and mingle with and just enjoy the offerings. Networking is a lot easier I find if you have a clear focus for the event, “I want to meet three people,” “I want to talk about my short that’s in the festival,” “I want to ask industry personnel if I can meet with them after the festival for a chat about my film.” All of a sudden something that could seem terrifying (especially if you hit these events on your own, which I have a plethora of times) turn out to be not so bad.
I snuck in to the Official Selection : Pretty Poison program and caught nine shorts selected from around the globe. It’s interesting for me to see what other short filmmakers are creating in other parts of the world. How do they tackle story, character or drama and comedy. Sometimes its so easy to get wrapped up in a North American, or even more so a Canadian storytelling model, that a captivating short from Bosnia and Herzegovina can twist, inspire, and capture a different perspective on a somewhat familiar story.
That is exactly what Pink River from director, Zacharias Mavroeidis, did for me. There was nothing flashy or extraneous in this tale about two ex-lovers reconnecting discovering how their lives have changed in the interim. The women had been lovers, and now Meri comes face to face with her ex, Asja, carrying the child of a “boring” coworker, who she is committed to. A few brilliant shots, and more succesful, is the sparse, yet compact and complex dialog.
Another great film was by Canadian filmmaker Jesse Shamata. Break A Leg features two absolutely superb performances, and its not often you find that in shorts, which this film has done so marvelously. The film is almost performed as a monologue as you follow a “hit-man” discussing his work over breakfast and eggs. There is a hilarious reveal I don’t want to spoil, but the cinematography also deserves a kudos as well as the music choice.
Also, if you are a fan of experimental works, the festival includes a few in every program, so that could inspire you in a unorthodox manner, I saw Leslie Bell’s Painted Moon and although I’ve never been too keen on the genre, I did feel a moment of utter transcendence into a moment where story didn’t matter but colorful expression, line, and form did.
Day Two is upon me, and I plan on checking out what the types of workshops WWSFF offers, as well as a few more screenings! Stay tuned, I’ll keep y’all in the loop! And if you are in Toronto, GO GO GO to any or all of the screenings (very relatively priced pass packages await you!)