Victoria a big draw for short film fest


What: Victoria Short Film Festival
Where: Market Square (560 Johnson St.) and Kwench Culture Club (843 Fort St.)
When: Thursday, Sept. 5, 7 p.m.
Tickets: $15-$20 from

Every event producer is required to make hard decisions when it comes to programming. For Victoria Short Film Festival founder Ali Calladine, that meant saying no to nearly 100 independent filmmakers wanting to take part in the burgeoning Thursday night showcase.

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“It was tricky, because we had more than 160 submissions to the festival this year,” Calladine said. “We were really trying to choose the best of the best. Our curation approach was trying to make something that was critical and interesting, and not just entertainment. We wanted something artistic to happen, and that was the only direction.”

Short films and video exhibits from Spain, China, Slovenia, and the United States join a healthy contingent of work from Vancouver Island and B.C. artists at the second annual festival, which takes place tonight at Market Square (7 p.m.-10 p.m.) and the Kwench Culture Club (10 p.m.-1 a.m.). This year’s festival has expanded well beyond the parameters of the inaugural edition, which was held last year at Market Square’s Camera Traders location.

“We always had a vision that the festival that would be about the intersectionality of film,” Calladine said. “Film being an artform that comes in all shapes, from video art to music and sound design, to understandings of movement in photography, this year we’re getting to actualize that a little bit.”

The Victoria Short Film Festival is now separated into two sections, beginning with outdoor film screenings of narrative works in Market Square. That will be followed by a multi-room media art and music exhibition in the Kwench Culture Club on Fort Street. The use of two showcase venues was key: The majority of ticketholders will sample all facets of the festival, but it was broken into separate parts so attendees could have full control over their experience, Calladine said.

“There is a lot of learning to be done between people making narrative films and people making video art. But certain pieces of video art are 30 minutes long, and hardly change at all, so it’s not really appropriate to put it up in a formal film screening.”

Contributors from Salt Spring Island, Victoria and Courtenay form the backbone of the festival, according to Calladine. It is her intention with the Victoria Short Film Festival to contribute to the growing strength of filmmaking in the city, and she included A Funeral For Lightning as an example of what can be achieved in the short film medium.

The 23-minute film from Montreal writer-director Emily Kai Bock — whose commercials for Vogue, Coke and Yves Saint Laurent and music videos for Grimes, Arcade Fire and Lorde have made her a star on the rise — has won raves and numerous awards, including the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short Fiction at the L.A. Film Festival.

“We’re trying to create an event that is celebrating the people who are making films locally — independent, artistic films — but also creating a precedent of what it looks like to be an indie filmmaker. By bringing in other works by successful artists and filmmakers, we’re trying to make it seem like a more accessible medium. [A Funeral For Lightning] is a film that has a lot of the elements that different filmmakers are experimenting with and does it really well.”

The thinking behind the non-profit event, which is overseen by Calladine and a board of filmmakers and film industry professionals, is to showcase both short films and video art, the latter being a medium that can be easily accessible to novice filmmakers. The new addition to the festival this year has the possibility to become an even bigger focus going forward, given the boundary-breaking that takes place.

“I would love to see people coming to the festival finding all the pieces engaging, but also a little bit challenging. I want them to think about what they are watching, and expand their sense of art and cinema and what can be done with these things.”

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