2005 Films

A Kiss On the Nose Belgium/USA Laura Neri Laura Neri Laura Neri, Brett Henenberg A theme that often runs through our festival is father-daughter relationships. We’re accustomed to explorations of that primal mother-daughter bond, and so this emphasis strikes us as fresh and equally delicate. Obviously strongly autobiographical, this film evokes that awkward combination of love and rage we often feel about our dads. This powerful little drama captures the essence of those feelings quite brilliantly. Some have identified this entry as “the best short” they have ever seen.
Backseat Bingo USA Liz Blazer Jeff Oliver Liz Blazer Filmmaker Blazer has performed the uncanny: coaxed seniors into talking about their romantic lives. We really are all the same, young or old. What really works here is the matching of the candid voices to wonderfully animated drawings, thereby softening the visual effects of aging and giving us all hope in the promise if desire after retirement. There is life in sensible shoes, after all.
Battered Cod Ireland/Canada Libby Seward Libby Seward Libby Seward, Ken Coleman The film fries the sea-harvesting multinationals quite nicely, turning them over gently for an even crisping. This co-production with Ireland is a stunningly gorgeous expression of rage, offering a fine and fascinating contrast between the appealing poetry of the fishery and the harsh brutality of corporate practice. Essentially what we have here is an original tapestry of voices and moods, the real art of politics, so to speak. The film makes fresh use of image and sound, voice and dance, to offer the beauty of its argument. Battered Cod serves up a beautiful first course
Bearing Witness USA Barbara Kopple Barbara Kopple Marijam Wotton Two-time Academy Award winner Kopple and her team of filmmakers deliver hard and forcefully. This is a staggeringly good documentary about five female journalists who have spent their careers covering some of the most dangerous terrain on the planet. By following these fascinating women in fields as varied as Iraq, Sri Lanka and Jordan, the films opens up not only to the sheer danger of operating in a war zone but also to the ethical questions that attend to war journalism.
Between Midnight and the Rooster's Crow Canada Nadja Drost Nadja Drost Nadja Drost Drost tells the compelling story of cover-up and corruption in Ecuador, where Canadian-based corporation Encana is building a crude oil pipeline. All guts and conviction, Drost talks to rural residents and vividly reveals of hideous effects of toxic waste on the poor, vulnerable landscape of the country. This is a sobering tale, one bound to make you ashamed of Canada and the half-truths spun in the name of international development. Drost’s sheet perseverance speaks truth to power and makes you feel hopeful in spite of the grim subject matter.
Blessing USA Suju Vijayan Suju Vijayan Mike Blum This effective short manages to contain many themes with craft and grace. Maya returns to her Indian-American home in California for her brother’s high school graduation. Returning also means confronting a meddlesome, if well-meaning, mother. It’s impossible not to admire this film for its delicate and moving treatment of one of the most challenging relationships of our lives. And sometimes reconciliation comes along, like an unexpected blessing.
Bonne Fête (Happy Birthday) Canada Miriam Genestier Miriam Genestier Mimiproductions Indefatigably talented Montreal queer community artist Miriam Genestier takes her alter ego, silent film star Fannie Nipplebottom, to a very special birthday party. Does anyone really need to know more than that?
Boys on the Fringe Canada Deanne Foley Deanne Foley Paul Pope Warning, this blurb’s gonna be rated excellent, relevant You see the title of this doc? It’s no accident Foly slapped us hip hop, “Girls it;s what you want” Amusement, amazement, and got agreement Following Jerome and Eli With Nigel playing I spy Watching them conquer Canada Their shtick is hard core dada Going for the brass ring Broadway and all the bling bling Elevated, deflated, and articulated Hope, the boys on the fringe prove that they’re groovy You’re nuts if you watch this very fine movie .
Can You Love Me? Canada Adam Garnet Jones, Sarah Kolasky Adam Garnet Jones, Sarah Kolasky Adam Garnet Jones, Sarah Kolasky Toronto artist Morgan Mavis is one of a kind. Her project was to explore her insatiable need for love, an urge as intense as having the check email. This film is a witty multi-media exploration of Mavis’s own quest to find an answer to that question. In effect, this documentary is a narrative of a narrative, with the filmmakers cleverly observing the artist’s project at a respectful distance. Is Mavis hopelessly self-absorbed, brilliantly self-aware, or outrageously in between? You be the judge.
Clean USA Nina Chernik Nina Chernik Nina Chernik This quirky and poignant film is about Peter and Mariel. Young and a bit off the wall, they meet by chance, fall into attraction, and endure the consequences. Less a narrative of who, where and why, this film is a short and lyrical study of the “what” that happens when two people get together. Defiantly unsentimental, Clean nonetheless has the power to draw us deeply into the moment.
Coolie Gayl Canada Renata Mohamed Renata Mohamed Renata Mohamed A coming out story that packs a profound emotional punch, this film is some candid exercise. Filmmaker Mohamed is all guts, opening her heart in eloquent synch to a set of graceful images. The montage captures the essence of that moment when the truth must be heard, this time in the form of a letter to one’s parents. Who knows what they made of it, but we applaud the effort.
De Las Calles (From The Streets) USA Veronica Shamo-Garcia Veronica Shamo-Garcia Veronica Shamo-Garcia What’s black and white and moving all over? This little slice of life, a fine achievement from USC film student Shamo-Garcia. The film centers on Manolo, a Latin-American street urchin who inhabits a harsh world of struggle and deprivation. In such a short amount of time the director is able to convey the cycle of poverty that keeps reproducing the Manolos of the world. Well crafted and wise, this films shows off the director’s obvious potential.
Forced Entry Australia/USA BP Anderson BP Anderson BP Anderson It was a dark and stormy night. A couple, an intruder, and a tricky situation from this startling tour de forced entry. Yes, the film sets us up and leaves us howling. To say more would be breaking and entering. Please see it and be prepared for just about anything. There is just something about those Aussies that makes the stories go round in the opposite direction to what we expected, that is.
Girl Cleans Sink Canada Sook Yin-Lee Sook Yin-Lee This is definitely not the story you expected. CBC host Sook-Yin has fashioned a charming tale about two awkward peOple who meet in a Laundromat and take it from there. This film is sweet, quirky, and funny. It teases out the music question: Is happiness a warm gun or are you just glad to see me?
Hard Rock Water Canada Barbara Doran Barbara Doran Lynne Wilson Filmmaker Doran has crafted a riddle of an argument wrapped up in celluloid: how is Iceland not like Newfoundland Both islands have a lot of rock to answer for, historical dependency on the fishery a range of valuable resources, a questionable climate, and a distinctive cultural heritage, but they are about as similar as oil and acrylic. St. John’s based writer Lisa Moore guides us through the comparative politics, raising questions both here and there that tease at the answers, but leave us wondering what went wrong for one people and right for the other. Along the way Moore encounters a range of public figures who spiel and speculate about the differences, sometimes hilariously, as with the indomitable Mary Walsh. We might very well ask, though, if Iceland is so terrific, why do Icelanders love shopping at our malls?
If There Were No Lutherans, Would There Still Be Green Jell-O? USA Gayle Knutson Gayle Knutson Gayle Knutson You can tell from it’s title that this snappy short is less about epistemology than a clownish turn of mind. The funny guy in question is Steve Molin, the irreverent Reverend of the Lutheran Church in Stillwater, Minnesota. By his hilarious lawn signs shall ye know him. Molin has built a reputation on his very public puns, word games, and spoonerisms. If God didn’t have a sense of humor, he/she wouldn’t have created the Church Sign Guy in the first place. you’ll laugh, you’ll pray.
In the Morning USA Danielle Lurie Danielle Lurie Danielle Lurie An intense encapsulation of a barbaric code, this film follows the drama of what happens when a Turkish woman is assaulted, losing her honour in the eyes of her family. It remains up to her 13-year-old younger brother to win it back, a test of his loyalty and a stain on our sensibilities. Expertly shot with a hand-held camera and moody lighting, this is a stunning in-the-gut parable of unjust justice.
L’Eau (Water) Canada Izabel Barsive CHOREOGRAPHER: Izabel Barsive Izabel Barsive This will only take a minute. Gorgeously shot, whimsical and endearing. L’Eau is wet and wild. If Gene Kelley were alive he’d be singing in this movie. Warning: sometimes a fire hydrant is not just a fire hydrant.
La Père De Gracile Canada Lucie Lambert Lucie Lambert Les Films du Tricycle We all adore this lyrical feature about an independently minded 10-year old, the Gracile of the title, who embarks on an ambitious odyssey to see her father/ you might not think that her odyssey was anything to leave home about, but the director imbues the character and the rugged northern Quebec landscape through which she travels with a quiet, steady dignity. Indeed, the landscape and her Innu grandmother’s intimacy with nature animate the quest, compelling us to slow down and smell the bracken. You’d have a heart of labradorite not to be moved by Gracile’s determination and the film’s gentle resolution.
Mi Casa Es Tu Casa (Welcome Mr. Postman) Mexico/USA Madeleine Bondy Madeleine Bondy Madeleine Bondy This documentary gives fresh meaning to the phrase “going postal”. Four postmen from different continents visit each other, dragging their families, assumptions, food habits, and languages with them. Ultimately, we come to understand with each of them that it’s not such a big and different world after all. The encounters are a humanizing process, and we get to see that people who deliver mail have a lot in common, whatever their color, nationality, language, or food choices.
Moon Man Canada Paul Morstad Paul Morstad Marcy Page No, this animated short has nothing to do with a notoriously persistent phone-in radio caller. it is, rather, a spirited illustration of Stompin’ Tom Connors’ lively song, “Moonman Newfie”. You’ll know it when you hears it. All those easily offended by the term Newfie need only cover their ears for three minutes.
Mother's Day USA Wendy Reed Bruce Wendy Reed Bruce Wendy Reed Bruce There are more than 900 female inmates at Alabama’s Julia Tutwiler Prison, and more than half of them have children. We have all heard the cries for conjugal rights, but what about the need for mothers to see their children? This film makes a hugely powerful argument for such rights, by showing us what happens when incarcerated women get the chance to visit regularly with their loved ones. By focusing on three female prisoners, director Bruce brings us into the crime-riddled and fated lives, humanizing them in the process.
My Ancestors Were Rogues and Murderers Canada Anne Troake Anne Troake Kent Martin There are many ways of countering the tidal wave of propaganda against the province’s annual seal hunt, but filmmaker Troake’s strategy is probably the best: that is, making art out of the truth.Part homage to her own feisty relative Gary Troake, a no-nonsense spokesman for the hunt who died tragically at sea in 2000, part educated inquiry into the politics of people and place, and part interview with Troake’s charming grandmother, this film is actually even more than the sum of all those marvelous bits. Troake shrewdly turns a broad colonial slur into an epithet of honour.Her ancestors are not just the drowned sealer and his ilk, bit all the decent, hard-working, and unsentimental people who have spent centuries trying to carve out a decent wage from a punishing natural environment. Funny and moving, full of facts and memorable anecdotes, this film puts it all into perspective.
Perfectly Imperfect Canada Jan and Nadine Silverthorne Jan and Nadine Silverthorne Jan and Nadine Silverthorne Proud of this small budget achievement, the filmmaker traces the arc of romantic relationship destiny. We love a short film when it snap, crackles and pops the questions like this one. This film is in fact, perfectly perfect.
Pigeon Canada Anthony Green Anthony Green Karen Wooky A true and moving story, one that will keep you on edge to the last haunting frame. This film is a powerful dramatic reenactment that carries the weight of its humanity well. In the central role of Joseph, Michael Lerner perfectly embodies the fear of war and the menace of captivity. Wendy Crewson as his unexpected foil is a strong and persuasive presence. The filmmakers have chosen each frame with care and polish. This is a finely wrought fable with lasting effect.
Pillowtalk Canada Jordan Canning Jordan Canning Jordan Canning and NIFCO Filmmakers Program Ever have one of those relationships where it’s impossible to say exactly what you were feeling? Preternaturally accomplished Jordan Canning has turned a fact of life into a delightful meditation, harnessing dialogue–and its absence–to high realism. This film is more than just a promising debut: it is a strong and compelling portrait of a romantic couple at a crossroads. It’s uncanny how the filmmaker manages to capture how so little can say so much.
Sabah Canada Ruba Nadda Ruba Nadda Tracey Boulton This film focuses on a 40-year old Muslim woman who still has a lot of living to do. She lives with her domineering mother and her patriarchal brother, grudgingly enduring the rebukes and rules, not really expecting more out of life. Duty is her lot and she submits to it. But one day she meets a nice Canadian guy at a local swimming pool, and before long she has butterflies in her stomach. Dealing with her feelings openly in such a traditional family is new and frightening, but love changes people and its force is stronger than family duty.
Show Me Canada Cassandra Nicolaou Cassandra Nicolaou Howard Fraiberg In short. this is a deliciously twisted story about isolation, bondage, and entrapment. Beginning with the familiar paralysis of a Toronto traffic jam, the plot progresses quickly to a kidnapping. Three disparate people become entangled in a scary game of captor and captive after they descend upon a remote cottage in the woods. More of a psycho thriller than a slasher film, Show Me takes us through unexpected plot turns, peeling back layers of civilization and surprising us with what lies beneath.
Stationery Canada Monica Rho Monica Rho Michael Fukushima The clever conceit is this: a woman must find paperclips for a report due in the morning. In a world of far too many paper clips one might think this was an easy task, but working women everywhere know how maddening and screwed up the simplest challenges can be. Stationery takes us to that dark place somewhere between anxiety and paranoia we all know too well. Totally charming in its line drawing simplicity, this film is powerfully complex.
Stay Until Tomorrow USA Laura Colella Laura Colella Amy Geller A strong script and phenomenal acting. Eleanor Hutchins plays Nina, a funny, sexy, and restless young woman who is in transition. She is running from a boyfriend and re-entering life in America after years of self-imposed exile in Europe. She is also hungry for risk and new adventure, and open to whatever happens in a way we can only admire. Crashing at an old school friend’s apartment, she crosses his otherwise steady rhythms with her own anarchic urges. The result is at once moving and hilarious. You will love every bit of this clever, poignant, and utterly entertaining portrait of a woman and her friends and lovers. In fact, you’ll want to run away with her.
Steal this Image USA Tanya Jo Miller Tanya Jo Miller Tanya Jo Miller With sheer in-your-face bravado, Tanya Jo Miller takes direct aim at the absurdities of copyright law. You want appropriation? She’ll show you appropriation.
Stealing Mary: Last of the Red-Painted Tribe Canada Marian France White Marian France White Fire Crown Productions, Windup Filmworks This outstanding documentary teases out the possibility that the DNA of the extinct Beothuk Indian tribe might very well be resting in someone’s bloodlines today. specifically, the film reopens a cold case, based on British explorer William Cormack’s discovery of two skulls in the remote wilds of Newfoundland in 1827. The skulls became evidence in a modern investigation into the cause and context of their fate. Nothing less than a bold retelling of the past through the bright and revealing light of the present, this film is a superb and visually stunning achievement that performs nothing less than a cinematic miracle: resurrecting the red tribe itself, breathing new life into an old myth.
Still Centre USA/Romania Carina Rosanna Tautu Carina Rosanna Tautu Carina Rosanna Tautu Colorful for its unusual locale, unconventional in its use of mixed media, and fascinating for its unique subject. This film takes us to a postmodern world in radical transition, alive with East bloc customs and new age technologies. Living in that strange and shifting world is Erie, pregnant with triplets. Indeed, she is the still centre of a spiraling universe. What kind of world will her children grow up in? It;s not the answer to the question but who is asking it that really matters.
Stronger Canada Debra Felstead Debra Felstead Debra Felstead Hard to describe this highly original hilarious take on women who talk too much…if there were such a thing as hip hop film, this entry would qualify. The setting is a nail salon, a time-honoured microcosm of estrogen and gossip. Here is where bitches and saints converge to work mayhem, revenge, and three coats of high gloss. What doesn’t kill you makes your nails stronger.
Stuck Canada Jenn Goodwin CHOREOGRAPHER: Jenn Goodwin Jenn Goodwin Films to the left of us, films to the right, we’re happily Stuck here in the middle with this charming romantic short. Boy meets girl: they dance their dance.
Tell Me Canada Shandi Mitchell Shandi Mitchell Shandi Mitchell This short is surprisingly strong not because there is ever any doubt about Mitchell’s talent or art but because the subject, an interview with one’s own father about pretty much everything, turns out to be a witty, poignant take on such an intimate relationship. This film shows us that there’s far more to our Dads than meets the eye.
The Hard Facts of A Rock N Roll Crush Canada Jill Riley Jill Riley Kathleen Osmond, Wooden Nickel Productions A sweet and witty account of a recognizably passionate experience, this wonderful short is a vivid ode to the nuances of romance. Full of laughs and good feeling, every single frame is in the right place at the right time. Perfectly scored as you might expect, Riley’s film is dazzling for its ambitious reach, its glorious loyalty to music and men. We love its energy; it makes us hungry for more.
The King Hunt Canada Justin Simms Justin Simms Anna Petras The dramatic principle is conflict, the conceit is chess, and the visuals are stunning. Phil Dinn looks unrecognizably distinguished as the famous grandmaster who is lured into a match with an eccentric fan. Stephen Lush as the good-looking challenger. The two men square off like Tom and Jerry. To say more would be rude. But watch for the strategic camera work and the innovative compositions, as the filmmakers successfully draw on their own clever head games. Check this out, Mates.
There's A Flower in My Petal Canada Andrea Dorfman Andrea Dorfman Andrea Dorfman This is a short poetic masterpiece for everyone, but especially film audiences, illustrators, psychologists, and bicyclists. Dorfman’s whimsical rhyming formula gets at what’s really important, all in the form of a letter to her Mom about loss and gain, then and now. Working with live action, animation, and a range of styles and metaphors. Dorfman has created just about the most beautiful little thing we’ve ever seen: there’s a flower in our program and it blooms with every screening.
The True Story of Sawney Beane Canada Elizabeth Hobbs, Katja Anderson Elizabeth Hobbs Katja Anderson (Red Kite), Michael Fukushima (NFB) Here’s a strange and compelling story about a cannibal, Sawney Beane, who roamed the wild headlands of Scotland in the late 16th century. Sawney’s story, like Robin Hood’s, has entered the realm of legend and folklore. Of course, where Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor, Sawney was inclined to eat the whole lot of them. But what did Sawney’s mother make of all this, and what did her son’s unusual practices have to say about her own culinary capacity? This is the legend told from poor old Betty’s point of view, a tale of sound and worry. You’ll never look at haggis quite the same way again.
Tribalizing: The Women of Nepal’s Trekking Industry Canada Lisa Hoffe Lisa Hoffe Lisa Hoffe, Only Girl Productions This film is aptly titled, for it blazes a cinematic journey for Hoffe herself, who journeyed to beautiful Nepal to research the heavily male-dominated adventure tourism business and the persistently brave female guides who bushwhack through their gender barriers. Not surprisingly, given Hoffe’s trained eye, this doc captures the raw beauty of the Himalaya region as well as the complex infrastructure of competitive demands that brace its development. It also illuminates a progressive social network in the works, with the spectacular mountains as omniscient participants.
Undo Canada Michele Francis Michele Francis Michelle Szemberg Unconventional in its approach, this film is an experiment that works. In effect, it’s a film about a woman’s choice, and the psychological challenges such a choice demands. It is at once a study of grief and confusion, an inquiry into the politics of choice, a narrative between a man and a woman, and a meditation on communication–pretty amazing for all of nine minutes.
Unlocked Canada Sook Yin-Lee Sook Yin-Lee Bravo Fact A clever study of two geeks trying to cope. There might be 50 ways to leave your lover but with three minutes we really only have time for one. After you’ve seen it, ask yourself–what would Lance Armstrong do?
Vendetta Song Canada Eylem Kaftan Eylem Kaftan Irene Lilenheim, Abby Neidik This film is far too strong to be ignored. Filmmaker Kaftan takes us along on a journey into the heart of her Kurdish ancestry. A dangerous journey, poisoned with bad blood and a senseless killing. Her quest leads to a scary confrontation with the ostensible murderer, some 30 years after her Aunt’s mysterious death. This film manages to keep the aspects of her experience in a careful balance. Riveting and unforgettable, this film will stay with you long after the final tentative climax.
Viola Fondente (Candy Viola) Italy Fabio Simonelli Chiara Bellini, Valentina Mogetta Chiara Bellini, Francesco Scura Poor Viola: she is pretty, but overweight and bored, ignored by everyone and especially by her indifferent husband. To feed her soul and secure some comfort she routinely concocts the sweetest of sweets, always in spectacular formations and garish living color. But one day she is forced to take matters into her own hands, proving that candy really is dandy. This film is as sweet as its props.
Women in Love USA Karen Everett Karen Everett Vanessa Domico An intimate documentary about the wild and wooly ways of lesbian sexuality. filmmaker Everett takes us directly into her world, lesbian pronographers, strip clubs and all, as she chronicles about 15 years of her own comings and showings. Living in San Francisco doesn’t necessarily make relationships easier but it sure makes them more available. Alternately funny and droll, tender and raw, this film is a riveting experiment in visual diary form, often irresistibly juicy.
Women of the Holy Kingdom Saudi Arabia/USA Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy The Holy Kingdom is Saudi Arabia, where slowly, a women’s movement is taking hold. This fascinating documentary traces its development up close through the lens of the director’s probing camera, who finds pockets of educated resistance by women against the patriarchal rules that govern them. She also encounters smart and self possessed women who actually support the strict Islamic ways. In other words, the film does not pretend to have the answers and it never condescends or presumes a western superiority. What it does achieve is a rich spectrum of voices, each contributing to a much broader and deeper portrait of a country we know so little about.
XS Stress: Teens Take Control Canada Patricia Kearns Patricia Kearns Tamara Lynch Filmmaker Kearns shrewdly collaborated with a large and diverse group of teenagers and it shows. Focusing in particular on four very different young people, the film opens us up to the myriad stresses of their rapidly changing lives. Sarah cuts herself; Jarrell confronts homophobia; Krya deals poetically; Kira has a learning disability. Each deserves a claim on experience; each has something to teach us; each engages us fully in the dynamic changes of adolescence. Zippy and candid, naked and lively, this film really mines the zeitgeist well. Parents really ought to watch this accompanied by a teen.
Elling Lien