Spencer Wilson
The Navigator

This weekend, there will be 15 films showing at the ninth annual Vancouver Island Short Film Festival (VISFF). We have ten new filmmakers and four returning: two from Europe, four from Winnipeg, three from Vancouver, and six from Vancouver Island.

Both European films clock in at only one minute. From the Netherlands director David Stevens, M22 is a visualisation, based on himself, of what the inner world of a stutterer is like. From the amazing French animator Matthieu van Eeckhout, The Evening Cigarette is a tribute to his old habit two years after quitting.

The Winnipeg Film Group will be delighting the festival with their experimental directing styles. Master puppeteer and prop-maker Curtis L. Wiebe, and his brother Marlon, team up for Bome Gnomeski, a cautionary tale about a tree who goes on a bender in the big city, which is sure to please audiences with its dazzling puppetry. As part of a bigger project called Notes from the Fort, Michelle Elrick presents us with images of intimate blanket forts being made in unfamiliar environments, accompanied by sounds from her ancestral homes of Austria and Scotland, while reading a poem in Expect Something and Nothing at Once. In White Rhythms, Short Breath, Olga Zikrata takes us on a journey of the senses by carefully blending sound, film texture, and dance into an exploration of the aesthetics of sonic force through the medium of film. Lastly, animator Eva Cvijanovic’s Seasick is a meditative exploration of her love for the sea set to traditional Croation music.

We have a variety of films from Vancouver this year. Sci-fi and stop-motion director Shimon Machida will be presenting Rain, a thrilling sci-fi set in 2030, where wireless internet has become powerful enough to perceive human thoughts and memories. Alison Parker, who successfully crowd-funded the short film Jake & Jasper: A Ferret Tale, returns to directing her pet ferret, Falcor, in The Magic Ferret, starring Fred Ewanuick from Corner Gas and the young Jacob Tramblay from Smurfs 2. Lastly, Andrew Pollins presents the drama Backward Fall, which explores the relationship between an old couple as the wife begins slipping in and out of her younger self, causing her to no longer recognise her devoted husband.

Legendary Victoria-based comedy director Graham Stark returns again this year with two films. Starring members of his comedy troupe, LoadingReadyRun, Stark is sure to rouse laughter with his violent love for spring and hate for summer in Spring!, and in his one-take, fanatical conspiracy skit, NASA Conspiracy. Stark has garnered eight awards from VISFF over the years and has had at least one film in every festival since it started in 2006.

Multi-award-winning Victoria director Jeremy Lutter has enjoyed huge success over the years with his short films and has directed in a wide array of styles, including animation, puppetry, music videos, thrillers, and film noire. Lutter’s new film, Floodplain, is a beautifully-shot drama about a small-town boy who has to let go of his childhood sweetheart when she tells him she is leaving for university. Cameron Bright, who plays the boy, has already been featured in many big-budget films, including Thank You for Smoking, Twilight, Juno, and X-Men.

VIU’s videographer John Gardiner returns to the festival this year with the drama The First Time We, which is about a man in a coffee shop who is writing to a girl about the best moment they’ve had together. Gardiner has seen success at the VISFF before with The Piano Player’s Sister, which took the People’s Choice Award in 2010, and has also won awards for his one-take comedy short, Screentest.

Bananafish Dance Orchaestra’s song “KRUPA” is an excellent and classy tune which provides the perfect soundtrack for the story of its music video. Directed by Nanaimo’s Raymond Knight, KRUPA is a 1920s gangster-inspired film that ventures into the underground dealings of the Bananafish Dance Orchaestra. The film was shot in the basement of the Firehouse Grill, lending a wonderfully dark and seedy tone to this fantastically nostalgic music video.

Another returning Nanaimo director, Michael Chen, has teamed up with fellow local Aaron Colyn for the mystery Greyscale, which they only describe as “a man will do whatever it takes for his loved ones.” While the film may be shrouded in mystery, Michael Chen’s talent isn’t. Chen won “best writing” in 2012 for his animated comedy Tartar Sauce and has also won for his other short, The ABCs of Adam and Eve. Greyscale marks his first dramatic film at the festival.

The festival begins on February 7, and tickets are $10 for students, $15 otherewise. You can expect some absolutely fantastic and unique cinema this year, so come on out!