Saturday, January 23, 2010

Canada's Top Ten Short Films

I went to both programmes of Canada's Top Ten Short films at the Cinematheque the other night and was very impressed with the quality of work on display- much more impressed than I was with 'I Killed My Mother' (one of Canada's supposed Top Ten Features of the year). Here are some of the most notable films:

Programme 1

'Runaway' - Director: Cordell Bark

Wacky and witty, 'Runaway' is a fun, fast paced and imaginative animated gem propelled by a jazzy score.

'La Vie commence' / 'Life Begins' - Director: Émile Proulx-Cloutier

One of the strongest short films I have ever seen, 'La Vie commence' / 'Life Begins' is subtle and striking, packing an emotional punch and a powerful closing image that had me gasping. Almost dialogue free, the film focuses on brothers Joseph and Mathieu and what happens when their house is broken into and their father's gun is stolen. An unsettling, mysterious and disjointed tone is set from the opening edits which sharply cut establishing shots, and builds throughout the film's 14 min running time until the closing image and ambiguous ending. Dealing with the bond and relationship (possibly one that has crossed a line and gone too far?) shared between two brothers, 'La Vie commence' / 'Life Begins' is poignant and thought provoking.

The Armoire - Director: Jamie Travis

Though he has only made short films so far, Jamie Travis is one of my favourite Canadian filmmakers. His meticulous art direction, precise cinematography and refined style create unique, campy worlds where children deal with coming of age through demented games and (usually) musical numbers. 'The Armoire' follows a young boy as he struggles to remember how his best friend went missing while they were playing a game of hide and seek. Not as good as his previous film 'The Saddest Boy in the Wold,' 'The Armoire' is still a notable piece, containing references to things as disparate as 'The Shining,' David Lynch and day time soap operas. Sidenote: I was glad to hear Jamie say that he is finished making movies about children and wants to move on to working with adults. He was beginning to come off like a one trick pony and I am looking forward to what he will be doing next.

Check out the trailer

And website

Programme 2

Danse Macabre - Director: Pedro Pires

Haunting, heartbreaking and breathtaking, 'Danse Macabre' was the standout film for me. Set to an operatic score, the choreographed twitches and spasms of a corpse are turned into a poetic and morbid ballet. The composition and level of craftsmanship is astonishing and the film soars with a rapturous energy and beauty.

Check out the trailer

Check out the website

The End

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