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Short films impress at Women In Film and Television Film Festival

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Preview of short animated film Oriana by Kara Miranda Lawrence

The 6th annual Women In Film and Television Film Festival kicked off in Vancouver at the Vancity Theatre on March 4th.  The Reel Women series showcased the diversity of the female perspective with nine unique short films.

The first, Mere Terre, Taire, a film with French roots by multi-disciplinary artist Collette Balcaen, explores the complicated relationship between Mother Nature and humanity’s perpetual growth. The story is told from the perspective of Collette and her mother, who have both seen the incredible changes to the family farmstead over generations of lost traditions.

Provocative media artist and poet Heather Susan Haley, alongside visual artist Tina Schliessler, brought to life a titillating book entitled Bushwhack.  Through a series of photos depicting the trees in a forest in a truly unique way, Haley and Schliessler explore the sensual side of nature.  Said Haley following the film, “Everyone who sees Bushwhack will likely never view a walk in the woods the same way again.”

Adapted from a popular Portuguese novel, Oriana is a wonderful animated tale from director Kara Miranda Lawrence.  Oriana is a beautiful fairy who has been entrusted to tend to the forests of Azorean.  When she is tricked into becoming transfixed by her reflection, the forest withers and suffers from her neglect.  This is a simple tale that pinpoints society’s insatiable self-obsession and the subsequent destruction of the planet. The film won Best Animated Film at this year's festival award ceremony. 

One of the longer films of the series clocking in at 22 minutes, Cedar and Bamboo, directed by Diana Leung and Kamala Todd, is a fascinating perspective into the lives of early Chinese immigrants and Canada’s indigenous peoples.  Exploring a subject matter very little talked about, the relationships between the indigenous peoples and Chinese immigrants is an interesting narrative on the difficulties experienced by both cultures and the unique perspective that they can bring to Canada’s history.

From first-time filmmaker and former dancer, Natalie Robison, Inscape showcases world-renowned contortionist Jinny Jessica Jacinto as she twists and turns in black and white.  Robison expressed the many challenges of creating the film, including shooting on a Bolex and discovering that Jacinto would only perform each contortion once, making for tricky post-production.

Working with Global Partnerships, a company providing microfinance funds for Latin American peoples, Seattle-based filmmaker team Rustin Thompson and Ann Hedreen created The Business of Hope.  The film follows several women in Bolivia and Nicaragua as their lives are transformed through the funding brought by Global Partnerships micro-loans. The Business of Hope is an excellent example of using the medium of film as a powerful tool for non-for-profits and companies committed to positive change throughout the world.

A heart-warming tale of selflessness from France Benoit, Hand To Toe, An Exploration in the Art of Giving, brings the viewer into a Salvation Army shelter in Yellowknife where volunteers spare their time to wash the feet of men and women living on the streets. By allowing the audience to only see the hands and feet of the volunteers and patrons, the film brings audiences into a world that they would otherwise never see.  Benoit said she was concerned about the privacy of the volunteers and the patrons of the shelter but did not think of this until after shooting.  Editing to only show the hands and feet not only solved this issue but created a successful tone of intimacy with the audience.

Set in Cape Dorset, Nunavut in Northern Canada, Ghost Noise follows artist Shuvinai Ashoona as she explains the process of her art and its inspirations.  Drawing insights from her life amidst the stark landscape of rock and ice in Nunavut, Ashoona creates art that captures both the cultural reality and the mythical imagination of living in an isolated region as a modern Inuit.  Director Marcia Connolly mimics Ashoona’s creative personality throughout the film, allowing the audience to journey to the heart of the artist’s imagination. 

A gem of a film from second-year film student Rebecca Johanson, Belle & Emma follows the story of a Grandmother and Granddaughter growing old and up together. Shot entirely on a Bolex as a film school project, this wonderful tale proves that no matter the age gap, people all have something to learn from one another.

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