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VIFF2015: Sandy Gow's Wowzer International Shorts Programme

International Short Film programme at VIFF 2015

In today's first post in a two-part series on the curated International Shorts series screening at the 34th annual Vancouver International Film Festival, Sandy Gow — a Festival veteran, jack-of-all-trades and VIFF Programmer since 1988 (the first year Senior Programmer PoChu AuYeung joined VIFF, as well) — will provide insight into each of the international series that have emerged as four distinct shorts programmes at VIFF2015.

In My Shoes: Five transgender young people talk about what it's like to be them
In My Shoes, five transgender teens talk about what it's like to be them | Australia | 7 min.

Three notes should be made about the International Shorts programme ...

  • The International Shorts programme is too often overlooked by VIFF patrons who while striving to see the best in world cinema — those rare gems that will never grace our shores again and must be seen at VIFF and only VIFF — neglect to consider that the birth of the finely-honed features that emerge as life-changing events at VIFF often occur within the realm of the 9-to-15-minute short, a film in the truest sense (despite its length) that garners the necessary attention to allow the novice filmmaker to make a longer form feature film.

  • At the Festival, this year or any other year Sandy Gow has curated an International Shorts programme, VIFF offers patrons only one "lock" on filmic quality, one cinematic guarantee, a "you can take it to the bank" surety, and that is: most, if not all, of the films in any given international shorts programme will come to represent the best experience you will have inside a darkened theatre over your 16 days at VIFF. Sandy's heart, his intellect, and the wisdom of his years are poured into the decisions he makes in choosing from among the 700 entries for consideration of inclusion in his shorts programmes (500 of which films Sandy sees himself), the thirty-seven shorts included in the four curated programmes at VIFF2015 a winsome combination of intimate, humane, thoughtful, provocative, revelatory, and heartbreakingly extraordinary chronicles of the human condition.

  • Competition. Take a gander at your Facebook feed, or listen to the conversations in the lineups as passholders "discuss" how many films they've seen that day, and what their "count" of films screened is as of any given day — in some sense VIFF is, at times, a "competition" to see the most films (and why not? what a treat to see 100+ films!). Imagine the following: take in a screening of every one of the 37 shorts in the four IS programmes, and your number of films screened will surely come close to or break the magic 100 number! Although a gentle humility defines the approach of the VIFF veteran to her fellow Festival patrons, a bit of boastfulness from time to time surely cannot be out of place. Thirty-seven films added to your list of films seen at VIFF2015, and a glorious and transformative 415 minutes in the cinema! At the Vancouver International Film Festival, we call that bliss.

Now on to the business at hand, the charmingly avuncular Sandy Gow on the first two of the International Shorts programmes up for discussion ...

In The Still of The Night, a short film by Erich Steiner, Austria
In The Still of the Night, a beautiful and disturbing period piece | Austria | 14 min.

In the Dark Reaches of the Soul
A programme of beautiful, haunting and often disturbing films — though sometimes in these dark reaches we find hope
Friday, October 2nd, at 6:15pm, International Village, Cinema 8
Tuesday, October 6th, at 4pm, International Village, Cinema 8

"An alternative title for this series may well have been "Disturbing Endings," because there are many films in this programme that have really quite disturbing endings. The intriguing aspect of the eight films in this series is that although the films are often unsettling, the disturbing ending is left until almost the very last moment of the film. The last punch is the last punch; there's no attempt to contextualize, there's no addendum, you're just left sitting there saying, "Holy shit! I didn't see that coming."

Soap, directed by Christopher Brown
Soap, the Canadian première of Christopher Brown's short film | United Kingdom | 16 min.

Great Performances
This programme of shorts highlights stellar acting, and demonstrates how vital this is to the success of a film as a whole, whether a two-hander or an ensemble piece.
Saturday, October 3rd, at 9pm, International Village, Cinema 9
Wednesday, October 7th, at 1pm, International Village, Cinema 8

"Until I make the final selections, I have no idea what any of the themes of the programmes are; there are no preconceptions. Great Performances was a programme that began to emerge when, as I was selecting films, I saw a group of films with terrific performances. Two years ago, I curated a programme titled Two Handers, which was a great way to highlight acting; in 2015, it occurred to me we could do something, although not quite the same, somewhat similar in that it would highlight great acting."

"Over the course of the year, I often see films where good ideas are let down by less than stellar performances. If the acting doesn't deliver, all of the other work that goes into making a film goes to waste, a great script, a good director, luminous cinematography, all that can come to nought."

"Of the four International Shorts series this year, the Great Performances programme is the most diverse: the only criteria for this series was ... great acting. You've got The Moor, featuring a great many New York actors you'll recognize almost immediately; it's such a beautiful ensemble piece."

"Operator features essentially a solo performance — and is a must-see, the most intense six and half minutes you'll ever have experienced in a theatre. You walk away from Operator with a newfound respect for the folks who work in emergency services handling the 911 calls — your head is just turned around. Operator is also one of the three films in this series where the offscreen sound is critically important. Injury Time, Operator and Soap — in all three films, offscreen sound is almost like a character in the film."

Cherry Cake, a short film by Jaine Green, at VIFF 2015
Cherry Cake | International Premiere | In attendance: Director Jaine Green | UK | 15 min.

"There are some surprises in this series, as well: Cherry Cake is just a delight, again with two veteran British actors — I don't want to give it away, but you have to wonder how Eve Pearce was talked into appearing opposite Matthew Kelly in the film. It'll be a hot topic of conversation at the Q&A afterwards, when director Jaine Green will be taking questions."



Posted by Raymond Tomlin at October 1, 2015 3:08 AM in VIFF 2015

   

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