This year marks the 6th edition of the Air Canada enRoute Film Festival, the airline’s celebration of up-and-coming Canadian filmmakers. This year, Air Canada passengers have been voting over the past week for their favourite of the 20 short film submissions to name the festival’s first People’s Choice Award winner. The four jury finalists were selected by an all-star panel of Canadian filmmakers, including Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, Mary Harron, Niv Fichman, Gordon Pinsent, Callum Keith Rennie, Saul Rubinek, Jacob Tierney and Karine Vanasse. The awards were handed out at a ceremony in Toronto on November 7th, where all four of the juried prize winners received a trip for two to the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival in France, courtesy of Air Canada. The winner of Best Short Film also received $5000 from sponsor Cineplex Entertainment, and the People’s Choice winner received a trip for two anywhere Air Canada flies in North America.
We Refuse to be Cold (Alexander Carson; winner, Achievement in Direction) – Love, promise and relationships entangle in this short about a young couple during a deep Montreal winter. By promising each other they will never be cold that winter, the pair find creativity and passion to fuel their fires, but also the boiling conflict that forms the other side of heat, and a doubt that they’ll make it to spring. It’s a personal and thoughtful way of making a commitment to each other (without a ring, as they say), and ultimately a sweet and hopeful story – a bright spot in a gloomy winter.
Let’s Make Lemonade (Justin Friesen; winner, Achievement in Documentary and People’s Choice) – As soon as the music started and the band came on screen, I knew: it was Lemon Bucket Orkestra! I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Toronto’s only Balkan-Klezmer-Gypsy-Punk-Super-Party band play before. Friesen’s short doc serves as a great introduction to this lively and passionate collective of musicians, who focus on bringing their unique vision of folk music, mostly from the Balkans and Eastern Europe, to young people and the streets. They emphasize busking and playing absolutely everywhere – indeed, I first saw them at a Ukrainian Easter egg decorating workshop! – but it’s clear that they work hard while they’re having fun. This is a great little snapshot of one of the best parts of Toronto – people spreading joy and music in their own way however they can.
We Blinded the Sun (Danielle Sahota; winner, Achievement in Cinematography) – A young boy is working to rise up from a deserted landscape in order to rescue his true love: his cello. But there’s more going on here and I’m not entirely sure what it is. Marcel, the boy, speaks of being in the dirt, his father, his mother, flying and music. I get the impression that Marcel’s mother, a cellist, left his father, a pianist, and his father refuses to let him play the cello and forces him to play the piano. They are “down in the dirt,” I’m guessing in poverty, depression, alcoholism; and Marcel longs to fly like his mother, and his love the cello. I get a feeling of being trapped, and the cello as a symbol of being free. But, I could be wrong – this is the kind of dreamy film full of symbolism and vagaries and experimentation, which means it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Noeud Papillon (“Bow Tie,” Fernand-Philippe Morin-Vargas; winner, Best Short Film) – It’s that annual elementary school tradition: picture day. And Jacob’s mom is determined to dress him up every. Single. Year. This year, it’s a blue suit with a red bow tie, Jacob’s curly red hair parted in the middle, making him look like a sad, ginger version of Dudley Dursley. He’s admonished not to get dirty, but once at school, dealing with his crush on his teacher, the insipid photographer, and a tough kid on the playground, well… all bets are off. Morin-Vargas has made a charming, funny short with a lead that anyone who’s gone to public school will understand. To cap off all the adorable parts of the film, the cast and crew’s own school photos are featured in the credits.
You can check out all the selections from the festival, and learn more about the filmmakers and the jury, at the enRoute website (http://enroute.aircanada.com/en/film-festival).