Well, it’s that time of year… summer has started, and the Worldwide Short Film Fest was hosted last week from June 5-10 here in Toronto. Last year I attended for the first time, took in as many screenings and symposium events as I could with my do-it-all combo pass, and came away inspired and encouraged. I had a great time so it only made sense to do it again!
Wow… what a fantastic event. My last five days have been jam packed with symposium events, screenings, and parties. I am exhausted today but it’s all been well worth it!
This year was a bit different, because I got to actually participate in the festival because my short film script was accepted into the Working Lab. I submitted to this in early May and just got the notice on May 18th that my script had been selected, and I was really excited. Along with two other writers, we sat down with industry mentor John Galway from the Harold Greenburg fund, and gave each other feedback. This was hugely valuable for me for many reasons… because I’ve been so busy with shooting and directing, I haven’t had many outlets lately for writing, so it was nice to just focus on the writing for once. It’s also always a great idea to test your script with actors or writers so that any holes or issues can be figured out before you spend lots of money on getting it made! I got lots of valuable feedback and also some inspiration and advice as far as getting it made, which is my next step.
The other thing that was different for me this year, was the fact that because of all this, I also got to upgrade my pass to a delegate pass – which meant all the same perks as before, but I also got to go to additional industry-only events that I couldn’t last year. I went to as many as I could and I also met a tonne of other filmmakers, many of them with films in the festival, and it was fantastic to make new friends. I strongly believe that filmmaking is collaborative right down to its core, and the more we can help each other out the better our films, and our community becomes. So, I’m really happy I could meet and talk to so many inspiring people.
Some other highlights of the festival… last Saturday around noon, filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallee (C.R.A.Z.Y., The Young Victoria, Cafe de Flore) did a master class at the Isabel Bader Theatre. This was open to anyone and he shared his insights on filmmaking, music and passion and the floor was open to questions. I am a huge fan of Jean-Marc’s work so I was really happy to hear him speak, and also got to meet him afterwards.
The Industry Roundtables was a new idea which was very helpful – filmmakers signed up and had a “speed dating” session with short film distributors and buyers. We had 10 minutes per table and there were 8 tables. The most valuable thing about this was getting to actually meet in person and get some face time and exchange business cards directly. This was probably one of the most helpful symposium events for me so I really hope the WSFF offers this again in the future.
Screening wise, I didn’t fit in as much as I would have liked, but that’s also because it’s pretty much impossible to see and do everything even if you are well organized! When you accept that you can pick and choose. This year I also checked out the Scene Not Herd (Music Video) selection and Celebrity shorts. I didn’t get to see the Sci-fi: Out There program (which was a bummer) and really loved the Night Shift (horror and weird films, which I always love), although I wasn’t able to stay to the very end.
Some of my favorite films this year from the official selection (in no particular order) included:
Good Night, a story of two 14-year old girls who go out for a night on the town and act like 20-year olds. The subject matter was handled beautifully and what could be a creepy topic elicits sympathy in the viewer for the characters.
We’ll Become Oil, an insanely beautifully shot experimental film. I was drinking in every shot and wondering how it was pulled off.
The Last Bus, another fantastic stop-motion live action piece about animals trying to escape on a bus while being chased by hunters.
The Master Cleanse, hilarious look at what happens when a couple decide to go on a cleanse together, and cleanse more than just the food toxins from their body.
Remember Me My Ghost, (Honorable Mention for Best Doc Short) Beautiful black and white documentary about one single mother’s experience living in a Dublin slum.
Unravel, (winner of the audience choice award) another really interesting documentary about discarded western clothes being recycled in India, offers a really unique perspective on how westerners and our consumer culture are percieved. I love the many layers of this doc (no pun intended).
The Maker, (winner of best animated short) – Fantastic stop motion piece about a rabbit-like creature who has to renew himself before time runs out.
Dr. Breakfast, (Animation) hilarious and fast-paced cartoon about a guy trying to eat his breakfast, that hits you over the head with its randomness.
You can check out the full listing and award winners on the festival’s website: www.worldwideshortfilmfest.com
I strongly encourage you to check out some of these films whenever you can!
It was a pleasure to be a bigger part of the fest this year and since we’re now goin’ steady I look forward to doing it all over again next year.