By David Baldwin
Though I have always gravitated towards watching feature-length films, I have found over the past decade that I have increasingly become more interested in experimental short films. The breadth of ideas in these films is staggering and the way filmmakers compose and tell their stories in such a short time is simply miraculous. Some of these films work and look slick, while others fail and look incredibly amateur. But the passion radiating from these films is second to none. You can tell from every frame just how much love went into their creation. I worked on a few short films with my brother over the years, and the camaraderie and collaboration that went into those productions gave me a deep appreciation and admiration for the format.
I say all of this because I am excited to see what the 8th Annual Future of Film Showcase has to offer this July. I only knew about the festival showcase in passing previously, and this is the second year in a row where the work of 11 filmmakers will be available for all Canadians to watch for free on CBC Gem from July 9-22. I had the opportunity to screen four of the films in advance and if this is what we have to look forward to, I cannot wait to see what the rest of the festival will have in store.
Here’s a little preview of what to expect:
Aziz Zoromba’s Faraway is an emotional portrait of a young gay man in Quebec who wants to reconnect with his mother. It is not the most joyful watch, but the sadness the emanates from every fibre of the film is palpable, no matter the season it is taking place in. Zoromba mixes close-ups with landscape shots and dials up the ambient noise in some scenes to a point where the characters’ voices are practically drown out. There is so much to explore here and so much that can be mined for introspection. I wish it had time to tell us even more — perhaps this could be merely the blueprint for a feature-length project?
I was under the impression that Ella Morton had composed her film Kajanaqtuq using vintage footage of the beautiful mountain vistas of Nunavut. Imagine my surprise to discover she filmed it all herself on Super 8MM and then artfully distorted the images! It makes for a striking effect as Inuk elder Naulaq LeDrew narrates and reflects about her home, what it means to her and what has transpired on the land from before her time to the present. I did not love all of the distortions to the film, but the images and words more than speak volumes about the treatment of Native Canadians. And when you couple in the on-going news stories regarding the residential school system in Canada, it makes LeDrew’s words even more profound and devastating.
Max Shoham’s Sophie and Jacob is a beautifully moving short inspired by his great-grandparents’ escape from religious persecution before the start of World War II. It feels particularly relevant in the current landscape of Anti-Jewish sentiment, and tells a beautiful story of love over the course of 9 minutes. The animation is exquisite — even when it appears crudely designed. I watched this one blind and was impressed with Shoham’s work (the family tree at the end is particularly endearing). Finding out today that he is only in Grade 12(!) made me regret all of my life’s decisions at the same time as it made me ridiculously excited to see what project he tackles next.
Kourtney Jackson’s Wash Day is the kind of short that you sit back, listen to and bask in the beauty of everything it captures. The emotion that fuels the discussion three young black Women have about their personas in public and private is raw and heartbreaking. The pain these women have had inflicted on them is tremendous, and listening as they describe how they have come back from it and taken back what is rightfully theirs is truly wonderful. Jackson shoots on film here, employing an avant-garde look that lets you focus more on the truths being laid bare than it does on the naked women bathing and doing their makeup. Powerful stuff.
The Future of Film Showcase runs July 9-22, 2021.
For more information and descriptions of all of the films, please visit the FOFS website.
For more information about the festival, please visit this page.
To watch the films, please visit the CBC Gem website.