|CIFF 2011 REVIEW: Alberta Spirit – Short Film Gala|
|ARTICLES - CIFF|
|Written by Benjamin Hayden|
|Tuesday, 27 September 2011 20:29|
CIFF 2011: Alberta Spirit – Short Film Gala
Directors: Kyle Thomas, Amanda Forbis & Wendy Tilby, Laurence Cohen, Kevan Funk, Xstine Cook & Jesse Gouchey, Jimmy Bustos, Danielle French
Running Time: Varies
Reviewed By Benjamin Hayden
On a warm and windy Sunday evening in southern Alberta, short film directors gather at the Globe Cinema for a screening honouring their creativity, vision, and diverse perspectives concerning the growing cinematic tradition of this province. The evening was one of tremendous respect with an inspired atmosphere – every filmmaker indeed received multiple applauses for his or her efforts in creating brilliant visions.
One notable film of the evening included the international animated short film Wild Life by Amanda Forbes and Wendy Tilby, produced by the National Film Board. Taking more than eight years to complete, the film that debutted at Cannes in Telefilm’s Not Short on Talent program features breathtaking eclectics of Albertan cultural perspectives in 1909. The vivid pastel color palette and thick canvas painted stop-motion animations create a surreal environment transitioning through broad strokes of lush color. The film is an existential meditation about Remittance Men (remote world settlers on a governmental allowance). Paralleling the meditative portraits of two characters are inter-titles extracted from scientific knowledge-of-that-era regarding astral comets. They travel far, glow bright, and burn up into nothing, before they actually “land”. Always wandering, never settling, the endless journey is attacked on the train tracks as a Remittance Man shoots a bullet at nothing, further down the tracks, leading to a singularity.
The winner of Alberta Spirit for Calgary International Film Festival 2011 is a homegrown emerging producer/director with years of raw, local experiences allowing winner Kyle Thomas of North Country Cinema enough subject matter to produce and direct consistent short films concerning our “new west” paradigm, Not Far from the Abattoir won the hearts of the crowd this year’s celebration of provincial perspectives.
Opening with a quiet, half-baked drive to the worksite - the slaughterhouse – we quietly follow a man who spends his days draining bovine blood and his nights contemplating existence. Director Thomas insists that the imagery in Abattoir be simple and effective, forgetting industrial lighting schemes that often over-shadow raw talent, and indeed chose to focus on experiences of characters, the quiet gleams of real expressions. The man meets an old female friend and through mumbles - traditional Albertan flirtation - he discovers that he is awoken to meditate over the forty year old man he has become, seeing his friend who followed her passion and became a commissioned artist. He asks, “…and what kind of money are you thinking you’ll make with that?” welcome to the Albertan artistic paradigm.
Thomas’ win triggered him to spring forth with enthusiasm and humble respect for all equally talented filmmakers featured at the gala for the evening, rallying the theatre to realize that this is a new time for emerging talent in Alberta. Thomas is correct. We have stories to share, the hands to collaborate, and the dream to grow.