The Blood in the Snow (BITS) Canadian Film Festival takes over The Royal Cinema from November 22-27. A personal festival highlight is the BITS Shorts Showcase – two special feature length programs of some of the hottest new Canadian short genre films. Below, I give you my thoughts on some of the short films in these programs.
Dirs. Megan , Tanisha, Phoenix, Faith, Maalea, Laiza, Deon, Shania and Stephanie
Students learn the hard way why they need to wear all of their warm clothes outside as they feel the frost… BITE!
This film is the creation of a group of Dene students from grades 5-9 at Kaw Tay Whee school in Dettah, Northwest Territories. Frostbite reminds us the danger of winter, when we forget to wear our layers. I really liked the storyline, the humour, and the ‘monster’ that is Frostbite. Great effort from the students and teachers at this school… I want to see more from this adorable group of filmmakers and actors. PSA: do not forget to wear your layers friends!
Dir. Nicole Goode
Sylvie (Eva Larvoire) is a taxidermist content with being isolated from people in her large house in the mountains of France- her only company is her work. That is until Oz (Nathan Davies), an American hitchhiker stumbles upon her path. The two become close and Sylvie begins to question what it means to live.
Supine introduces us to two people who become intimately close in an unexpected way. The tones, set design, and location add extra layers to the film. Larvoire and Davies have enough chemistry to be believable in their respective, introvert-like roles. This dark yet moving story could be fleshed out more. The excellent cinematography and score certainly make Supine an interesting take on life, its meaning, and those we choose to surround ourselves with.
Reminiscent of the ugly events surrounding a Toronto radio-host who shall remain nameless, this film takes on sexual assault by the balls (pun intended). Without showing any violence on-screen, the filmmakers attempt to address the physical (and emotional) pain sexual assault has on a person. In this case though, the woman decides to take matters into her own hands and show her assailant she will not let his deeds go unpunished. I have some personal issues with the casting of both roles in this film. Yet it delivers a strong message that I can certainly not ignore.
With a twist in the plot, this very short film is surprisingly well done. Kudos for the surprise ending; as well as, for the use of colour lights to create a foreboding atmosphere. With clever cinematography, The Girl in the Black Dress is a good indication of Kriemadis’ skills as a filmmaker.
Dir. Daumoun Khakpour
A desperate man resorts to smuggling his wife inside of a piece of luggage in hopes of finding a better life in a new country. His hopes are put on hold when his plane arrives-but the bag containing his wife does not.
Set in Mexico, I see the point Khakpour wants to make with this film. The dramatic down spiral the husband experiences seems overdone. Standby does have some scary elements given the man’s wife never makes it across. These make sense, sort of. Although the film attempts to address a very relevant topic, there are some issues with the way the story plays out.
Dir. Jennifer Nicole Stang
Inspired by the story of The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning, this film tells the story of Lindsey (Karis Cameron) who is forced to babysit her younger sister Becky (Baya Ipatowicz) one night. After falling asleep, Lindsey awakens to find her sister missing. Someone has taken Becky and may be after Lindsey as well.
A well-done adaptation of the Pied Piper story with some classic horror elements. The Whistler character is an evil entity, who many years ago, stole the children of the town of Blackwood Falls to “save their souls”. Definitely great work by Stang and team to address themes of virginity/purity along with adult responsibilities. Lindsey is clearly a young woman feeling the pressures of ‘growing up’. Again I’m impressed by cinematography here done by Naim Sutherland (Feed The Gods). The piano theme aptly complements the story and adds to the atmosphere. Cameron and Ipatowicz deliver good performances. Although the ending could be stronger, The Whistler has plenty of potential and will please folk horror audiences.
BITS Shorts Showcase Parts 1 and 2 screen November 24-25 at The Royal Cinema. Check out bloodinthesnow.ca for showtimes and ticketing information.