Once again it was my goal at the VIFF to see at least one program of shorts. I had the good opportunity to see one during my ushering duties. You remember how the four programs of Canadian shorts were given names of the earth’s natural resources: Earth, Air, Fire and Water? This year the theme is about breaks. The program I saw was titled Break Even and featured nine shorts done by Canadian filmmakers. So here’s the rundown:
-Barefoot-In a Cree community, Alyssa is the third girl in her class expecting to be a mother. She has a supportive boyfriend and a supportive family but she has secrets. The story was meant to be a drama but I think this was a statement to do about teen pregnancy in First Nations reserves. An upsetting story but important as it will hit you with some hard truths.
-Peach Juice-An amusing animated movie using dolls and wrapping paper for the animating. Not the most professional but it succeeded in entertaining. This was another teenage story that has a charming outlook on a certain curiosity.
-OMG-A teenage daughter moves in with her grandmother after a spat over her phone use. Grandma handles her granddaughter’s annoying habit well both in her cellphone use and her relationship with her mother. Very clever ability to have a great entertaining story within the same location. Funny and charming.
-Liar-Tara believes her boyfriend Brian lied about being gay when he broke up with her. She and her two girlfriends attempt revenge on Brian but when it goes too far, what will Tara decide? Very good story but it leaves one wondering if it was meant to be a story or a message about violence on gay teens, especially since the bullies were all female?
-First Snow-Siblings and their mother reunite but not in the happiest settings. It’s in a hospital and it’s to decide who will donate their kidney to save their father’s life and it has to be immediate. Who will go forward, especially with all this squabbling? Very comedic with a surprise ending that ends the story well.
-Canoejacked-Two escaped prisoners try to escape across a river with a metal canoe. Only problem is the canoeist is inside with him, and he’s a ‘canudist’. How will they all escape with them in full view of the officer. They find a way. Quite funny, despite the bizarre situation.
-Hollow Bones-Boy bird loses girl bird in this live-action–yes, it’s live-action–short. However he does see hope along the way. Didn’t see the point of showing a break-up scene with the actors having birdheads. Wasn’t that amused.
-With Jeff-Nydia is in love with Jeff but wants to be a strong teenage girl. She receives a lot of advise from friends but loses herself whenever Jeff takes her on his motorcycle. The story appeared to be a good thoughtful story but the ending didn’t make a lot of sense.
-The Worst Day Ever-Bernard is one hard-luck kid. He has one bad incident after one bad incident happen this day. You think things couldn’t get any worse for that tyke until…It was a bit shocking to see all this happen to Bernard but it was funny and easy to find comical.
As for the whole segment, I have to say I first had the sense I was watching a program of shorts about teens after the first four shorts. It wasn’t until First Snow was showed that I got more of a sense of variety. Sure five of the nine shorts had teen subject matter but the mix of more adult shorts evened it out. Many of the shorts either charmed me or made me think. I’d say five of the nine were both entertaining and professional.
Some of the shorts were filmed by BC companies, some by Ontario companies and others by Quebec. I don’t know any of the filmmakers who filmed these shorts but I hope this leads on to bigger projects for them in the future.
The shorts program of Break Even was great to watch. Director wannabes often use short films to try to launch their careers for bigger things in the future. I’d have to say most of them show potential for both the director and even some of the actors involved.