Sunday, 22 December 2013

Shortest Day features short films

Based on a true story Le Trotteur features a young man who could outrun both horses and trains.
December 21st is the shortest day of the year.  As the daylight diminishes it often takes our good cheer with it.  Why else would we so desperately need a festival of light– otherwise known as Christmas?  To the rescue!  NIFCO, Newfoundland's Independent Film Co-operative, joined film venues worldwide and showed a generous serving of short films on the afternoon and evening of December 21st. Local partners included the Women's Film Festival and the Nickel Film Festival, which resulted in five glorious hours of Canadian films!  For free!  With popcorn and treats – and a bank of resident filmmakers in the audience.

We were like piggies in the mud, a happy bunch wallowing in the sumptuous imagery in every frame, the insightful use of music, the knowing glance of the actors, the clever turn of dialogue, on and on.

Kali Le petit vampire kept the trains and black and white theme going although completely unplanned by the organizers.

The first suite of films was described as Family friendly, from 7 to 77 years old, but frankly the children's films had a stark quality in a majority of cases.  The humour when it was present was dark and the plots progression was often steeped in dread. There seemed to be a subtext of trains on the go, at least three of the films featured them. Curiously, several of the films were characterized by a dark shadowy palette of blacks, greys and smudged or frozen white.  Le Trotteur's characters had uniform coal smudges around their eyes, as if Avril Lavigne's makeup artist had run amok.  Don't get me wrong.  The films were beautiful, just not in the candy coloured way of St. John's jelly bean row houses.  Being a child is evidently dire stuff.
Sisters with their make believe tea party that goes terribly wrong in Talus and Scree.

Talus and Scree was a Newfoundland entry in the films dealing with childhood that was most memorable.  Quoting from the Women's Independent Film Festival description of the 11-minute short by director/writer Ruth Lawrence:
Local multi-tasker Ruth Lawrence’s latest short film is a lovely drama that captures the heavy doubts of childhood. The title takes its inspiration from different sized rocks. These are, indeed, at the core of this beautifully wrought story about two sisters, and especially the one whose memory endures. Congratulations to Ruth for delivering another big piece of her heart.
More light-hearted was Martine Blue's film about clones ME2, which was a cautionary tale about learning to live with yourself.

 I'd never thought I'd say it, but I'm looking forward to the next shortest day of the year, especially if it means another feast of films.  I am telling myself all those dark nights are evidence of light –the moon is stealing from the sun–where there are shadows, there must be light too.

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