With the vast number of features, documentaries, and shorts on display this year, I couldn’t see everything. Trust me, I tried.
But contained here are the short films I did catch from some of the best up-and-coming filmmakers around.
Directed By: Spencer MacKay
Go to any film premiere, check out any of the best indie movies around, and chances are you’ll find Spencer MacKay, consistently jovial and a magnificent film aficionado, in the crowd.
Now, with this NextGen short, he shows what he can do behind the camera himself.
MacKay — himself in a wheelchair — has created this film about a young, disabled man trying to navigate the halls of high school.
It captures not only the alienation of our main character Colby (played by Tyler Hall, in great form), but the alienation high school places on us as a whole.
It serves as a reminder to be kind to one another, while also changing the perceptions and ideas around those who are disabled.
The way MacKay takes this personal film, and captures the melancholia of the environment, is astounding. He has fantastic things in his future.
This is a well-made short-film, and a depiction of friendship, and the fact that we all aren’t that different in the end.
Director: Hal Tatlidil
Hal Tatildil’s Kismet is an arresting short film about film about the last moments of our protagonist Kyle’s life.
The 10-minute film shows great promise from director/actor Tatildil, and we feel Kyle’s pain.
It’s a revelation of a film, full of intrigue and wonderment. The emotions contained are hard not to feel also.
Director: Jon Mann
Cahoots is the first of two shorts from local director Jon Mann in the festival.
I had the pleasure of watching this hilarious short a few months back in a screener capacity, and it holds up.
Mann directs three friends (Rob Ramsay of Blue Mountain State among them) who meet for lunch.
Their ne’er do-well friend (Ramsay) informs them he’s doing some really important work for a company called — wait for it — ISIS.
This is a hilarious short about friendship, and that one guy who just can’t seem to do anything right. I loved it then, and I love it now.
Director: Jon Mann
Missy is another partnership between director Mann and best friend Rob Ramsay, about a recluse forced to look at his past after a visit from a store mannequin.
Ramsay, mostly known for his comedy, resonates here as a lonely man with a lot to offer.
He’s pretty incredible in a 16-minute short where he shares his screen-time with a character that has no real limbs.
Mann and Ramsay are capable of creating hilarious and evocative work in the same breath, and FIN’s two selections really showed their range this year.
This is a beautiful showcase for them both.
Director: Taylor Olson
Everyone has their favourite filmmakers, and I need to be forthright and say I’ve been a fan of Taylor Olson’s for a few years now.
To see him and real-life partner and frequent collaborator Koumbie both working to make this a success was incredible.
Koumbie has fantastic screen presence here, as usual, and she lends some power to this short about a custody battle for a beautiful little girl named Grace.
Olson writes and directs a great little short here, brimming with love and difficult themes.
But I’m not sure it would have been as good as it was without a strong anchor like Koumbie holding it together.
Kudos to Olson for casting her and Koumbie herself for making sure the material resonates.
Director: Joshua Jamieson
Waiting Outside…, about a man caring for his young daughter alone while his husband is deployed overseas, absolutely floored me.
Director Joshua Jamieson pushes this perfectly-cast group of people and makes this film shine.
With a gripping opening and a perfect, melancholy ending, it had me the whole way through.
Jamieson has created a great, meditative work of art here.
Billy’s Behemoth Blast
Director: Josh Owen
Josh Owen won Best Atlantic Animation for this short film about the Halifax Explosion.
Bursting with a comic-style animation and tons of colour, the short is absolutely incredible to watch.
The film, set around the destructive 1917 event, is based on the true story of Owen’s grandfather William S. Owen.
He was a six-month old baby in his crib during the infamous explosion that would change Halifax forever.
It’s a short full of life, sound and beautiful colours, and was deserving of all the praise it got.
Bravo, Mr. Owen, bravo.