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Award winner returns to Real to Reel

Wolseley resident puts together another adventurous family short

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After winning the Manitoba Challenge at the Real to Reel Film Festival is 2013, Paul Plett is back with a new short.

The 28-year-old Wolseley resident won the prize for the best short film by a Manitoban for his three-minute film Brelle at the North Kildonan-based festival in 2013 and is back with the 15-minute film Sugar this year.

Plett, who was born in Swan River but grew up in Landmark, Man. as well as Zambia and Sudan, moved to Winnipeg from Toronto last summer. He described himself as a fan of adventure movies, and he enjoys to blend that genre with the family genre.

He shot Brelle — which is Low German for "glasses" — in Landmark with a local cast, allowing him to compete for the Manitoba Challenge though he was living in Ontario at the time. The short, which is in Low German, is about a little boy who searches for his grandfather’s glasses.
Plett chose to use Low German in the film to reflect his Mennonite upbringing, and also to push himself as a filmmaker, with the goal of going "just beyond possible".

"A lot of what the outside world hears about the Mennonite world, a lot of it is maybe some negative stuff," he said. "They’re people leaving the Mennonite tradition, and looking back on their experience and talking about the negative things that happened. That’s great, because that’s their authentic experience.

"For me, my authentic experience was I had a great time growing up."

Sugar will be shown alongside other short films during at 4 p.m. on Feb. 22 and at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 23. Plett will be in attendance for a discussion session after each showing.

The film, also directed at a family audience, follows the adventures of a young boy sent into town by his mother to get sugar. Though he’s done movies for a variety of audiences, Plett finds himself coming back to making family films, noting Pixar movies as a particular inspiration.

"It’s such a tightrope that you walk because when you make something with broad appeal, the tendency is to have a message be watered down. The tendency is for it to lose its bite," he said. "If you do it right, what’s assumed to be the great films, the great works of art have this broad appeal, but they’re just as impactful. They still have this measure of truth to them, and I aspire to that, for better or worse."

Plett grew up making epic imaginative Roman epics and science-fiction movies in Landmark, and attended the Toronto Film School before starting up Ode Productions six years ago. In school, he learned to focus on what was doable — casting his family members and using their homes in the films.

Plett’s next undertaking is filming a series called Kid Shorts that retell Bible stories in a modern context. The first one completed was Dave vs. the Bully, a new look at the David and Goliath tale. He has a Kickstarter set up to fund the remaining videos. For more information on Ode Productions, visit http://www.ode-productions.com.

The festival takes place at North Kildonan Mennonite Brethren Church at 1315 Gateway Rd., began Feb. 18 and will continue to Feb. 23. Individual passes are $5 for a day and $15 for the festival, while family passes are $10 for the day or $25 for the festival. Five theatres will be set up at the church, giving festival-goers a variety of options.

For more information, visit http://www.winnipegfilmfestival.com/.

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