The Long and Shorts of It

Create a film festival dedicated to short films from around Canada and the world, and you’re bound to get a huge variety in the works submitted in terms of length, style, and cinematic approach. From hard-hitting and moving documentaries to exquisite experimental pieces to dramatic works that will make you laugh, cry, cringe … or anything in between, there are no limits to the creativity and dedication of filmmakers.

This breadth and depth of the cinematic renderings was certainly evident in the late offerings on Friday evening, which consisted of two screenings: Up River and Strange Things Done. While the title of both showings has a decidedly Yukon flavour (the latter is from a well-known Robert Service poem), the films themselves were as exotic and far-reaching as, well, imagination itself. There was, for example, The Fisherman, a dramatic (and clearly well-funded) Spanish sci-fi production shot in Hong Kong, but also Holland, Manitoba, a personal introspective that, amidst collaging techniques, tells the moving story of the death of a family farm, as well as  76 Jansky Units, an experimental film that describes itself as “Hypnosis in 3 minutes on Glittery Super-8!”

Be it tongue-in-cheek, poetic, bawdy, mystical, irreverent, tear-jerking, profound, silly, breathtaking, ribald, mesmerizing, entertaining, or hard-hitting, DCISFF truly offers something for everyone. Mind you, the variety of visions doesn’t make it easy for festival-goers to choose just one favourite. After the Up River screening, for example, one audience member was observed, pencil poised impotently over a blank ballot form, moaning about the difficulty in deciding between not two, but four films she rated equally enjoyable — a microcosmic testimony to the hard-work of the staff and volunteers involved in programming the festival.

Dan Dowhal, Dawson City Writer-at-Large