With James, Martha and Kim doing a fabulous job covering the Toronto International Film Festival, I figured we would focus strictly on Canadian films this week on Eat My Shorts. Sure, Canada seems to get a bad rap (especially from those South Park boys), but it hasn't stopped them from producing some outstanding shorts over the years.
While browsing around the internet recently, I noticed (via Boing Boing) that The National Film Board of Canada has put 50 of its greatest animated shorts online for all to see. And yes, for free! With a collection that spans 60 years and features 41 directors, you'll find a ton of excellent shorts, with some Oscar-nominated works thrown in.
As always, if you'd like to see a short film featured on a future edition of Eat My Shorts, simply email all links, tips and suggestions to shorts AT Cinematical DOT com. Okay, and now it's aboot time we check out some Canadian shorts, eh ...
While there's no possible way I can cover all 50 shorts in one post, I've decided to pull out one from each decade and let you linger around their site to check out the rest.
Hen Hop (1942) -- This is the first of two films by Norman McLaren that I've decided to share with you. McLaren, who is regarded as one of the most awarded filmmakers in the history of Canadian cinema, is best-known for his wonderful experimental short films. In Hen Hop, McLaren uses a pen and ink to hand-draw the cartoon, which features a hen (or, at times, an egg with feet) dancing to some groovy barnyard music.
Neighbours/Voisins (1952) -- Perhaps his most famous work, McLaren won an Oscar for this short which, when you think about how long ago it was made, is absolutely stunning. Utilizing an experimental (for its time) technique called pixalation, McLaren places live actors and objects in the scene and shoots them a few frames at a time (as if it were animated) in order make the viewer feel as if they're on speed while watching it. Story revolves around two neighbors who discover a flower growing between their houses, and subsequently fight over who should be its rightful owner.
Notes on a Triangle (1966) -- Directed by René Jodoin, this animated short features a triangle which is cut up and divided into some three hundred shapes and sizes, as each piece (or pieces) dances in sync to the music of a waltz. Jodoin is known as somewhat of a shape freak, having also directed the shorts Spheres (1969) and Rectangle & Rectangles (1984).
Bead Game/Histoire de perles (1977) -- One of my personal favorites, Bead Game is filmed without words by director Ishu Patel and, like Notes on a Triangle, plays with all kinds of shapes and sizes. However, instead of triangles, we have thousands of beads which seamlessly take the form of several different creatures who then devour, merge and absorb one another. Definitely check this one out.
The Big Snit (1985) -- Unapologetically wacky and filled with tons of off-the-wall humor, The Big Snit revolves around two simultaneous conflicts: a husband and wife having a domestic argument, while the threat of nuclear war surrounds them. Directed by Richard Condie, this film is brilliant, whether you watch for its simple humor or its complex, politically-themed messages.
Two Sisters (1991) -- Etched directly onto tinted 70 mm film and directed by Caroline Leaf, Two Sisters centers around, well two sisters who occupy a darkened room. While one writes novels, the other serves as companion and the two remain content with their simple lives. That is, until a mysterious stranger shows up and complicates everything. Keep an eye out for Leaf's marvelous use of shadows throughout.
Elbow Room/Distances (2002) -- For anyone who has ever sat next to the wrong person at work, this short is dedicated to you. Great for corporate bosses to help teach conflict resolution, Elbow Room is a quirky short which follows one worker whose comfortable workspace is invaded by an out-of-control menace. How does he manage to get on with the day? Well, you'll have to check it out for yourself.
There you have it folks. Hopefully I've been able to show you the wide-range of quality content Canada has to offer. Cinematical has plenty of more TIFF coverage coming this week, so stay tuned for that. And, if you want to submit a short to be featured on Eat My Shorts, then send all tips, links and suggestions to shorts AT cinematical DOT com.