The first edition of the shorts film festival Wrap Yourself in Our Shorts, celebrating Vancouver's independent film community, takes place over two nights at the Planet Theatre at the HR MacMillian Space Centre. The festival not only has a witty name, but is comprised of a great selection of short films by Canadian filmmakers. This two-part screening series offers the opportunity to aid exposure of Canadian talent and allows people the chance to see a collection that is otherwise not readily accessible at local theatres. Featuring 2005 Academy Award-winning film Ryan by Chris Landreth, as well as Gary Hawes' Pits starring X2's Alan Cumming. The festival lineup also includes William B. Davis's Exchange and Matthew J Blecha's The Mall Man, alongside many other quality short films.
Part one begins with Kryshan Randel's Cellphone, a 2.5-minute micro-budget short film that details just how annoying public cellphone conversations can be and the length an angry person will go to terminate the call. This smart idea never really reaches its full potential but is entertaining none-the-less. Man Feel Pain, directed by Dylan Akio Smith, which won the Bravo!FACT Short Cuts Canada Award at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival, is an unfortunate story of a Jesus-like figure who takes on the weight of people's own pain by inflicting pain upon himself. Although conceptually strong, Smith's direction and approach left a lot to be desired. At 11 minutes, this short could have been even shorter. Kevin Shortt's The Watchers is a modern drama equipped with great subtle special effects and an eerie atmosphere that takes us to the climatic ending. The Watchers won the People's Choice Best Short Award at the Whistler Film Festival and also won a Leo Award for Best Performance by a Female in a Short Drama, for Kirsten Robek. Almost Forgot My Bones, a film by Katrin Bowen, is a poem set to downtown street-life imagery. It illustrates one African-Canadian woman's desire to seek connection with her heritage, personal image, and sense of self. Almost Forgot My Bones is a fluid collage of lyrics and pictures, painting an interesting portrait of a woman's struggling to find herself. Rounding out the first half of Wednesday's program is Stephen Plitt's Super Anon and Martin Prihoda's The Last Cigarette.
After a short break and a question and answer session with a few of the filmmakers, the festival program resumes with William B. Davis' Exchange. This unsettling film details a brief confrontation when a student is caught cheating on a paper and has to deal with the unusual consequences laid forth by the professor. When I Was Seven, a simple film by Jessica Bradford, takes us back to a time when a young girl gains confidence and believes anything is possible. Gary Hawes' Pits is a comedic ride, as it reveals one man's paranoia and problem-solving techniques when he tackles dealing with pit stains on the verge of an important job interview. The cast includes X2's Alan Cumming and a few familiar faces in the Canadian independent film scene. This package also features Giada Dobrenzska's Mon Amour and Steven K. L. Olson's Juda's Pane.
Part one begins with the aforementioned Cellphone and follows up with the brilliant Academy Award-winning short film Ryan by Chris Landreth. This intense 3-D animated masterpiece looks at the life of Canadian animator Ryan Larkin through what is described as Landreth's "psychological realism". Matthew J Blecha's The Mall Man brings us to the front lines of a busy supermarket and the chaos that swarms the security staff as they battle much more than just parking-lot shopping cart disasters. The head of security finds himself sandwiched between his boss and his girlfriend, struggling with the status of his job vs. his relationship. Before the interlude, part one ends with Eric T Finkel's Rugged Rich and the Ona Ona and Jane Post by Jane Sowerby.
The last and final segment has a strong start with David Ostry's Milo 55160. This 20-minute sci-fi tale uncovers the life of a heaven processing-station desk jockey who realizes there are still life lessons to be learned. This film offers an interesting view of life and death and the grey area between them. Why the Anderson Children Didn't Come to Dinner, a quirky off-beat film by director Jamie Travis which has been compared to the works of David Lynch and Tim Burton, provides a strange portrayal of a normal family situation. The unique production design and the bizarre visual choices by director of photography Amy Belling add to the haunting tone of the film. Despite the racy approach, this fascinatingly original festival entry is refreshing and tailored with its weirdness. Included in this concluding group is Kryshan Randel's second submission Cowboy and Corona Station by Steve Rosenberg.
The Planet Theatre, located inside the HR MacMillian Space Centre (1100 Chestnut Street) is a newly-renovated 200+ seat theatre that is hosting the Wrap Yourself in Our Shorts festival. The theatre strives to build community and enrich the world of film enthusiasts by providing audiences with unique and high-quality film programming including film festivals, fundraisers, themed evenings, and theatrical pre-release screenings.
Wrap Yourself in Our Shorts runs Wednesday, March 30th and Thursday, March 31st at The Planet Theatre. Both nights start at 7:30pm and feature question and answer sessions with the filmmakers. For more information, including tickets, visit The Planet Theatre online at www.theplanettheatre.com.
Mark McLeod has always loved film. In addition to his roles with ShowbizMonkeys.com, Mark also works on many film promotion projects in Vancouver, BC, through his company, Mark McLeod PR.