<i>A Mari Usque Ad Mare</i>
Check the front of your passport - it means 'From Sea to Sea" in Latin, and the collection of shorts I saw yesterday afternoon in the Canadian Idle screening at the WSFF managed to cover a lot of geography. The audience was small, happily responsive though, but I hope these directors get a larger crowd on Saturday night (hint, hint).
I don't know if one can comfortably say, in a country or city as diverse as ours, that there is a voice or style that comes across by virtue of our nationality. Stylistically, the films were anything but uniform, and plots ranged from the abstract and bizarre to cheekily hilarious, yet location - Canada as a necessary background to the action appeared in all but one of the selections (and it might be there in all, but at a certain point of abstraction - well, read on).
First on the docket is LYON KING by Mark McGuckin (BC), in which a clownish character, named after William Lyon MacKenzie King (the guy on the 50$ bill), and avidly Canadian, must choose between his devotion to the player of the greatest moment in hockey and his namesake. The concept is funny, and the actors take plenty of pratfalls to provide the laughs. Sweetly amateurish and slapsticky, but pleasantly so - it feels like a historical Canadian in-joke.
Next up is MOON MAN, a cartoon by Paul Morstad (QB). I thought this was trippy until I saw a couple of the later shorts. It's an animation of a folky song which declares the "man in the moon is a newfie." He rows his boat and fishes through the ocean of space. The surprisingly catchy song drives the film, and the animation is angular and appealing.
I spoke with the directors, Adam Garnet Jones and Sarah Kolasky (ON), of CAN YOU LOVE ME at the
Gala, and I'm glad I caught their screening.
a Toronto artist who, for an OCAD project, plastered her face on a poster with a 1-800 number and asked the citizens of TO if they can love her. One person did, and this doc looks at the evolution of that relationship/art project. They use a variety of experimental animation techniques to bring the archived messages and Mavis' description of events to life. Jones and Kolasky remain admirably neutral in their depiction of events, allowing their protagonists to speak for themselves and the audience to pass or withhold judgment as they will.
Sarah Fortin's (QB) DEUX ENFANTS QUI FUMENT (Two Smoking Kids) I found really appealing. The film is quiet and intimate and sexy as it follows the titular deux enfants as they drive aimlessly to find their future together, relying on luck with all the blind faith implicit in being young and in love.
CURSE OF THE VOODOO CHILD is Steven Woloshen's (QB) interpretation and portrayal of some serious Hendrix guitar. It's difficult to describe an experimental film like this, because the meaning is implicit rather than explicit - as an experience you simply absorb it. What can I say? The images are inverted, distorted, the film physically manipulated - like trying to watch cable illegally with a really old set and bad reception; what you end up seeing is more like a Rorschach inkblot than an accurate representation of the original image.
MOTHER'S DAY, from Rachel Grantham and Richard Lawrence (YT) bring the WSFF it's first film from the Yukon. The scenery is gorgeous - their cinematographer is a nature photographer and his aesthetic is evident. The story follows a young boy as he buys a gift for his mother and the misadventures that ensure. The story is quiet, meditative, and elegiac. It's greatest strength is the childlike perspective of the narrative.
Kara Blake's (QB) JULY'S WET DREAM is another experimental films, that plays with one long slow motion take of kids playing in a fountain. Like CURSE, the experience is one you absorb, though there was something uncomfortable about watching a young child play in a fountain. Though it's described in the official blurb as a "refreshing visual dance" I found it to have a darker element, the unrelenting, intense gaze of the camera is more than observant, it seems slightly sinister and invasive.
SPACER is Guy Rowland's (BC) mesmerizing experimental film that, through brilliant sound and picture editing and exacting photography, makes Vancouver's architecture shimmer and beat. Watching it feels like running through the city. Impressive.
The final film of the screening, DESASTRE is a farcical send-up of bilingual relations and American culture (such as it is) by my new pretend boyfriend, Jay Field (ON).
I don't want to spoil any of the films surprises because you have to go see it.
The premise - a francophone is born to an American family and, well, antics ensue. The child actor portraying le petit garรงon is fantastic, a total charmer.
Field is adorable as his adult counterpart,
jumping between languages and mannerisms, managing wide-eyed innocence and effortless, sexy existentialism.
Incredibly funny, appealing, and cheeky. See it, love it.
This line-up screens again on Saturday at 9:15pm in the Isabel Bader Theatre
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