It’s shorts weather as Film Group turns 30

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WHEN it came time in 2004 to plan this program of commissioned film shorts to observe the Winnipeg Film Group's 30th anniversary, a film industry panel chose five of the most high-profile Winnipeg Film Group alumni and gave them the common theme with which to work.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/04/2007 (5658 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

WHEN it came time in 2004 to plan this program of commissioned film shorts to observe the Winnipeg Film Group’s 30th anniversary, a film industry panel chose five of the most high-profile Winnipeg Film Group alumni and gave them the common theme with which to work.

Surprise! It’s “film.”

Their efforts, premiering tonight at a classy fundraiser gala at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, demonstrate the diversity of talent that has sprung forth from the city’s celebrated film collective. But it also demonstrates that the WFG’s identity remains as a body fixated on film, not just as a medium, but as a dominant theme.

The films are:

Time Away

Carole O’Brien (mysteriously credited as “Aubriand”), one of the few WFG members given to making comparatively straightforward narrative films, gets experimental here. She uses found footage (exclusively of film shot from moving vehicles in far-flung locales) and overlays it with the voices of three women discussing, in poetic language, the nature of time. The film’s secret charm is that the does-anybody-really-know-what-time-it-is? dialogue sounds a bit like the result of three women smoking their first joint.

Odin’s Shield Maiden

A title like that could only signal a Guy Maddin short, filled with images of women mourning on the shore of a lake for the drowned fisherman Mundi, while inter-titles provide a poetic-comic counterpoint: “O celibate ocean/Wet with death/Do not grieve!” It’s classic Maddin, but it’s also a step back from his more venturesome efforts of the past few years.

The Last Moment

The longest, the most adventurous and easily the best film of this bunch, Deco Dawson’s 28-minute short truly embraces the notion of experimentation. Dawson uses five different film styles — including noir, Hitchcockian melodrama and Dogme — and mixes them up to create an intriguingly fractured narrative about a man (Carson Nattrass), a woman (Eve Majzels) and the mysterious circumstances of their mutual demise. In the noir film, she’s a treacherous femme fatale and he’s a lug in over his head, but as the movie styles change, the relationships and personalities alter accordingly, a demonstration that each film style comes with its own set of truths and lies. Of all the filmmakers showcased in this project, Dawson proves himself the most willing to stretch beyond his niche.

Man of the Northwest

Director Matthew Holm jovially futzes around with the singing Mountie genre, as the wholesome Sgt. Ferguson of the North West Mounted Police chases down a trio of chain-gang fugitives who have grown weary of chopping ice with pick-axes for no apparent reason.

As he demonstrated with his WFG classic The Lost Bundefjord Expedition, Holm is in it to have fun. So we have fun too.

Automoto

Certainly, there is no work more polished than Neil McInnes’s stop-motion animated film in which robots demonstrate the process of making imagined ideas manifest in the real world.

Tickets to tonight’s gala are $35 and include admittance to the screening, a post-screening conversation with artists, and a wine and chocolate reception with the filmmakers, as well as a tax receipt for $25.

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