BC's Best Shorts

VSFF 2010 Films

Emerging Shorts Program

El Turista | Vancouver Film School | 2:52

El Turista is an allegory of immigration & life. Based on the poem written by the director Arcelia Ocaña Manjarrez, it is the reflection of her own life as an immigrant in Canada.

Most Livable City | Pull Focus Film School | 10:00

Most Livable City is a short documentary film that case studies a man’s life in the Downtown East Side of Vancouver, BC. The film shows how people’s lives are affected when drinking water is not recognized as a human right throughout most of Canada. Most Livable City looks at water accessibility at the street level and also in privately-ran single occupancy room hotels (SORs), Vancouver’s social housing.  The documentary questions how Vancouver is one of the most livable cities in the world when gentrification outweighs people’s basic human needs.  Since the film was made, the conditions in the Balmoral Hotel have begun to improve, after all City Council members received a copy of the film and formal letter of complaint from the BC Civil Liberties Association.

Empire City | Simon Fraser University | 14:30

Empire City is full of crime and corruption. The city’s most powerful corporation, Pyricle, has a monopoly on the city’s energy, forcing the citizens to use its expensive, unhealthy Blue Tube energy. Mickey is struggling to pay the bills and support his pregnant girlfriend in a city full of unemployment and hardship. When he gets involved in the criminal underworld, he finds himself in the middle of a dilemma that could affect the entire city.

Oriana | Emily Carr University | 4:00

A whimsical 3D animated fairytale adapted from the iconic Portuguese novel "A Fada Oriana" by the late Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen. A young fairy named Oriana is entrusted to take care of an Azorean forest and all its inhabitants. However, she becomes mesmerized by her reflection and the forest is destroyed due to her neglect. Will Oriana be able to redeem herself and save the forest in time?

The Letters | Simon Fraser University | 9:30

In her desolate small town, April writes a letter to a childhood friend on the occasion of her high school graduation, revealing her aspirations and fears for the future.

Addict | Vancouver Film School | 10:04

During one several day long crystal meth binge, Trevor has to come up with more money for drugs to avoid the reality of coming down. After a long day that challenges his physical and emotional state, he is forced to make the ultimate decision about his lifestyle of addiction.

Little Big Kid | University of British Columbia | 9:31

Tired from his daily walk, Matthew Little stops to rest at an abandoned lemonade stand.  Reminiscing on his own childhood from seventy-years ago, he takes a seat.  When eight-year-old Johnny returns to his stand, he invites Matthew into his world of make-believe, helping him remember what it was like to be a kid again.

Irradiate | Simon Fraser University | 11:35

Amidst sweeping prairie fields, singing crickets, and a westward wind, Isabella rests dead on the back porch of her farmhouse. Her daughter, Loretta, sits frozen inside the house, torn between social and emotional responsibility.  Deciding to wait till the morning to call the coroner and inform him of the death, Loretta goes out back to sit with her mother through her last night on the farm.  Dawn breaks and with it comes the unwinding of Loretta’s grief, attachment, love, and loss as she moves through the formalities of death.

Forgive | Dir. Tara Mahoney | 14:29

National Chief Phil Fontaine is determined to write the chapter of reconciliation into the history of Canada. Leading a delegation of Residential School Survivors to a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI, Phil seeks public acknowledgement for the cultural damage caused by Catholic Church’s involvement in the Indian Residential School tragedy. From one figurehead to another, Phil takes the necessary steps toward forgiveness and reiterates the necessity of reconciliation for Canadian society.

NFB's New Releases Program

Discover the latest works by NFB’s award-winning filmmakers, including Higglety Pigglety Pop!, an adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s book from filmmakers Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski (Oscar nominees and Genie Award winners for Madame Tutli-Putli), featuring the voices of Meryl Streep and Forest Whitaker.

The Trenches | 6:52

A young man is getting ready to fight at the front. On the battlefield and in the depths of the ditches, the recruits are dreading the order to attack. It’s war. The roar of explosions moving ever closer forebodes a spectacle of horror. Anxiety tightens its grip. The signal is given. The soldier leaps out of the trench and into a hellish expanse where the earth engulfs both the living and the dead as far as the eye can see.

The Formation of Clouds | 10:06

Childhood is a private, fragile terrain in which the marks of our explorations are inscribed. A delicate, sensitive evocation of burgeoning desire, The Formation of Clouds follows the steps of a young girl in the midst of transformation, clearly delineating that odd moment when one is no longer a child, exactly, but not yet an adult either. Using the simplicity of pen and ink drawings with graceful superimposition effects on glossy paper, Marie-Hélène Turcotte succeeds in capturing all the nuances of this transitional stage, in which the ingenuous wish to remain a child accompanies the yearning for self discovery. With grace and sensitivity, this first short film becomes a visual poem that plays out at the frontier between reality and imagination.

The Circus | 7:00

In the vestibule of a hospital room, a young boy waits to see his dying mother. The clamour and spiraling movements of bodies around him intensify, forming a grotesque circus—a cacophonous circle that pushes the child back, depriving him of one final touch of his mother’s hand. Using rotoscoped drawings suggestive of charcoal sketches, as well as 3-D and object animation techniques, The Circus captivates with its unsettling realism. Colour is employed metaphorically to subtly express the promise and the memory of maternal affection. Nicolas Brault’s highly personal film, suffused with poetic modesty, casts a poignantly sincere gaze on the heartbreak of a child facing the fearful, mysterious experience of his mother’s death.

The Trembling Veil of Bones | 12:41

Inside a darkened studio filled with the sounds of ticking gears and cogs sits a solitary clockmaker called Bones. This peculiar character parcels out his time in teaspoons and shadow, until the arrival of a mysterious package propels him to leave his refuge.

The Bare-Wolf | 10:17

The werewolves that live in this secluded place are particularly savage: when not attacking anything that moves, they spend their time arguing and fighting. Driven by instinct, one young werewolf chases pink flamingos through the wild, straying far from home. Before he knows it, he’s in a place he knows nothing about: the world of humans. Surrounded by things he’d never seen before — garden gnomes and plastic animals — he attacks them wildly. Suddenly, he encounters a man who attacks him in turn, leaving him with a magic bite mark. The young wolf staggers back home, where he gradually recovers, though he’s not quite the same. One day, a rainbow appears. Our werewolf immediately transforms into a human being, and sets about abusing his former brethren. Shocked and dismayed, the werewolves howl bitterly at their fate.

Mamori | 7:44

Mamori transports us into a black-and-white universe of fluid shapes, dappled and striated with shadows and light, where the texture of the visuals and of the celluloid itself have been transformed through the filmmaker’s artistry. The raw material of images and sounds was captured in the Amazon rainforest by filmmaker Karl Lemieux and avant-garde composer Francisco López, a specialist in field recordings. Re-filming the photographs on 16 mm stock, then developing the film stock itself and digitally editing the whole, Lemieux transmutes the raw images and accompanying sounds into an intense sensory experience at the outer limits of representation and abstraction. Fragmented musical phrases filter through the soundtrack, evoking in our imagination the clamour of the tropical rainforest in this remote Amazonian location called Mamori.

The Bear Facts | 3:58

This short animated film by Jonathan Wright humorously re-imagines first contact between Inuit and European. A self-important colonial explorer plants flag after flag on the Arctic ice, only to be outwitted and sent packing by a bemused Inuk hunter.

Flawed | 12:28

Flawed is nothing less than a beautiful gift from Andrea Dorfman’s vivid imagination, a charming little film about very big ideas. Dorfman has the uncanny ability to trans­form the intensely personal into the wisely universal. She deftly traces her encounter with a potential romantic partner, questioning her attraction and the uneasy possi­bility of love. But, ultimately, Flawed is less about whether girl can get along with boy than whether girl can accept herself, imperfections and all.

Higglety Pigglety Pop! | 23:27

Once Jennie had everything. She had two bowls to eat from, two pillows, and for cold weather, a red wool sweater. She even had a master who loved her. But Jennie didn’t care. In the middle of the night she packed everything she had in a black leather bag with gold buckles and looked out of her favorite window for the last time...

Lipsett Diaries | 14:03

Lipsett Diaries is a descent into the maelstrom of anguish that tormented famed Canadian experimental filmmaker Arthur Lipsett, who died prematurely at age 49. Taking the form of a diary, this animated film by Theodore Ushev charts the meanderings of psychological distress, with clashes of images and sounds evoking the loneliness of the artist’s childhood, his frenzied creations and his dizzying fall into depression and madness. Drawing, as Lipsett did, from archives of diverse origins, even recycling segments of Lipsett’s films, Ushev renews his aesthetic by using paint and crayon on paper, to which he applies digital treatments. The result is both spectacular and daring: a fragmented and fascinating short film that plunges us into the whirlwind of a mind out of balance. A collaboration between Ushev and writer Chris Robinson, Lipsett Diaries is a singular study of what happens when genius is on first-name terms with madness...

Best of 5 Years Screening

Not Another Damn Musical! | Director Chris Goldade | 8:45

2009 William F. White Award for Best Student Short Film; Storybubble Pictures Award for Best Sound in a Student Short Film; Best Actor Award in a Student Short Film (Frank Zotter, Runner-up)

Not Another Damn Musical follows Leopold Gunthry, a mild-mannered news reporter who can only express his most heartfelt feelings and emotions through grandiose musical numbers, as he struggles to find a place for himself in a cold and passionless world.

Francis | Director Eron Carruth | 10:00

2006 VSFF Best Overall Film

A sci-fi drama set in an undisclosed time when the climatic changes and pollution have wiped out the natural bird population. Francis, a disabled humanoid robot, was originally created to help maintain a private aviary. He has since outlived his creator, David, and has been living as a hermit closed off from the outside world that was left to him by David when he passed.

Grover’s Mill | Director Paul St. Amand | 10:00

2006 VSFF Best Cinematography, Best Supporting Actor (Jason Logan)

Orson Welles communicates with distant strangers in the midst of radio play.

For You, My PeopleDirector Jose Pablo Gonzalez | 4:30

2008 VSFF Best Film Award

An animated short film that tells the compelling story of a senator whose compassionate public persona must confront his secret deeds of corruption and dishonour.

Touch | Director Terry Boake | 14:00

2008 VSFF Best Director Award, PS Vancouver Best Cinematography Prize, Best Actress Award (Natasha Peck)

Touch is a dramatic ensemble that details the lives of six people through three separate, yet connected story lines.

The Light of Family Burnam | Awkward Moment Productions | 15:00

2009 William F. White Award for Best Professional Short Film, Director’s Guild of Canada BC Award for Best Director in a Professional Short Film, PS Vancouver Best Cinematography Prize in a Professional Short Film, Best Screenplay Award in a Professional Short Film, The Audio Coalition Award for Best Audio Design in a Professionally Short Film, Best Actor Award in a Professional Short Film (David Lewis), Audience Choice Award for a Professional Short Film

As terminally ill, ten-year-old Wyler Burnam plans for his upcoming funeral with the help of his juvenile grandfather Richard, his father, Michael, struggles with the fact that his son will soon be gone. Having already experienced the loss of his wife a few years earlier, Michael is helpless to the fact that the people he loves most are slowly being torn from his life. With little time left, Michael is forced to finally open up in the hopes of becoming the father that Wyler needs, and in doing so it may be his last chance to embrace the lighter side of death, find some redemption within himself, and fully enjoy the time he has left with his son.

Tomorrow Doesn’t Look Good Either | Director Jordan Christianson | 16:00

2005 VSFF Best Use of Location, Best Actor Award (Jason McKinnon), Audience Choice Award

Dean, Turner, Stephen, and Ashley have been friends since grade school.  Years later, they still find themselves hanging out in the same suburban community in which they were raised.  It is over the course of a particularly eventful evening that Dean begins to question the sincerity of his friends.  They’ve grown up, they’ve grown apart. They just don’t know it yet.

The Shortest Dream | Director Jee-Won Sul | 10:39

2005 VSFF Best Film Award, Best Director Award, Best Cinematography Award, Best Actress Award (Vicky Huang)

A short story between Akira Kudo, a Japanese writer, and So-Rhee Moon, a young Korean widow, living in neighboring apartments set in Chinatown New York, 1950, June 24th.

The screening concluded with the top films in the Emerging Filmmaker and Professional Filmmaker Programs this year, as voted by our judges: Forgive, and Everything's Coming Up Rosie.

World's Best Shorts Program

I-Do-Air | UK | 7:24

Canadian Premiere
BAFTA Best Short Film, Best Intranational Fiction Concorto, Italy

Surrounded by divers and swimmers, a little girl feels humiliated by her fear of jumping in the water. She escapes her reality by holding her breath to ‘trip’ within her own head. But when she sees two unexpected creatures swimming beautifully and effortlessly underwater, can she take the plunge into their magical world?

Father Christmas Doesn’t Come Here | South Africa | 14:00

2010 Tribeca Film Festival Best Narrative Short; 2009 Tri Continental Film Festival Best Short

A naive young girl with low self esteem wants to be as beautiful as her mother but her dream is almost ruined by a cynical man who gives her a dose of reality which makes her resort to extremes to achieve her goal. With the help of her grandmother she finds true acceptance and her journey impacts on the cynical man.

home | USA | 6:00

2009 Tribeca Film Festival Best Documentary Short

A touching portrayal of the essence of home is conveyed through a bittersweet, evocative journey through the filmmaker’s childhood house that was flooded by Hurricane Katrina and then mistakenly torn down a year later.



Slaves | Sweden | 15:00


2009 CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival Best Animated Short; 2009 DOXA Film Festival Best Short Documentary Award

“We were abducted, my mother, father, sister and me. Then they killed my parents and separated me from my sister. 
I was five,” Abuk tells us in a low voice. “I stayed with one of
 the men who kidnapped us and took care of his goats.” Slaves is about Abuk, nine, and Machiek, fifteen. Like thousands of other children, they were taken by government sponsored militia in Sudan and used as slaves. They were later liberated by the organisation CEAWC (Committee for the Eradication of Abduction of Women and Children) in Sudan headed by James Aguer. Slaves is based on an interview made in 2003 and is the second film in a series of animated documentaries with and about children in difficult situations by David Aronowitsch and Hanna Heilborn, and with design by Mats Johansson/Acne Jr.


Runaway | Canada | 9:25

2009 Best Animated Short, Genie Awards; 2009 Best Short Film Cannes International Critics’ Week, 2009 Annecy International Film Festival Special Jury Award

Happy passengers are having a great time on a crowded train, oblivious to the unknown fate that awaits them around the bend. The ensuing crisis leads to a class struggle that is as amusing as it is merciless. Naturally there are victims, but in the end everyone is equal.


The Crush | Ireland | 15:30

Vancouver Premiere Tribeca Film Festival Jury Mention; Foyle Film Festival Best Irish Short

Ardal Travis is in love. There's just one problem. He's an eight-year-old schoolboy and the object of his affection is his teacher, Miss Purdy. One day he gives her a toy ring to show his affection. But heartbreak awaits when he bumps into Miss Purdy and her boyfriend having just bought a very real engagement ring. Devastated and spurned, Ardal hatches a plan to win her back...


Arena | Portugal | 15:52

Canadian Premiere
2009 Cannes Film Festival Short Film Palme D’Or

Mauro is under house arrest. Tattooing helps him pass the time. Three local kids taunt him through his window. Outside, the midday sun beats down.

La Mina de Oro (The Gold Mine) | Mexico | 12:00

2010 Palm Springs International ShortFest Best of Festival Jury Award, Best Live Action Short; Second Place, Cinema Without Borders Best International Film Award

Betina, a lonely spinster, meets what appears to be the man of her dreams online, and in the course of time he proposes to her. After quitting her job and selling her apartment, she makes the arduous trip to be with him. What awaits her is a wholly unexpected fate.

Professional Shorts Program

Trolls | 7:00

There comes a time in every kid’s life when they realize their parents are up to more than just “cleaning their room.” For 9 year-old Billy, this discovery only comes with the help of his know it all younger cousin, Genevieve. When she explains the rules and point system of the “adults only” game, Billy and Genevieve start counting up their own points.  Soon playground gossip turns anatomical, and Billy, with Genevieve close behind, tries to get to the bottom of what “doing it” actually means.  Trolls is a hilarious reminder of those childhood moments which made growing up exciting, embarrassing and downright confusing.

Death Wish | Citizen 11 Entertainment | 11:00

It’s 1977 and Death arrives on Christmas Eve in place of Santa Claus to collect a little girl’s soul. But soon finding the task somewhat more than he bargained for, the Reaper is outwitted and Julie Jones gets to revel in the joy of her most sought after Christmas wish. Did we mention it’s 1977?

Pigeon Park Savings | 11:10

In 2002, a shift in the BC provincial government instigated a vast number of provincial cuts, many affecting BC’s poorest population. In Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the 4 Corner’s Bank was forced to close due to these subsidy cuts. This was the only financial institution available to the low-income residents of that neighbourhood. Although other banks existed in that area, their intolerance to these residents was widely known and feared.  Pigeon Park Savings was created to replace the 4 Corners Bank. It is a financial institution which began with the partnership of Vancity and the Portland Hotel Society, and has grown to include the membership of over 4,000 downtown eastside residents.

Postalolio | International Rocketship Ltd. | 5:00

Postalolio is a classical 2D animated film. A journey by lead character, Gerald, takes place to the melody of, “Apple Blossoms”, performed by the late Joe Venuti. Each animation drawing was hand traced onto a watercolour postcard blank, then painted and posted. Every frame of Postalolio traveled through the international postal system before appearing in this film. Hundreds of postage stamps, postmarks and handling marks surround the central action of Postalolio.

Private Dicks | High Deaf Productions | 6:00

A detective noir filmed using puppets made from dildos. Private Dicks is about a detective named Dick investigating a dame named Fanny, and her connections to a seedy underworld mob boss named Big Daddy.

Serum 1831 | Silver Dolphin Productions | 15:00

Serum 1831 follows the story of Robert Lee as he tells a delicious tale of ambition, betrayal and revenge.

Tales From the Afternow: Little Rocks | RantMedia/Original Sine Productions | 11:48

From an underground bunker a hooded figure lights a candle in the darkness and broadcasts warnings of the inevitable anarchy destined for humanity. His bio-mechanical upgrades have left his body alive but his memory fragmented and his hope fading.  He reaches for one of few remaining personal possessions and re-tells the story of his wife, one of the many who have fallen to the widespread plagues and fallout sickness.

Everything’s Coming Up Rosie | KIllawatt Productions | 13:00

Inside Rosie’s mind she sees herself as beautiful, intelligent, and fun…to society though, she is seen only as autistic. Rosie is determined to break through the stereotype of her condition and communication barriers ‘U’ and ‘I’ take for granted.  A short and sweet tale that blends live action and animation with a unique take on what you think you know about someone who is different.

Ode to a Post-It Note | Meditating Bunny Studio Inc. | 5:05

On a cluttered office desk plastered with Post-it Note ‘to do’ lists, one little Post-it Note escapes on an incredible journey of self-discovery to find its ‘father.’ Shot using over 3500 digital photos, Ode to a Post-it Note utilizes the magic of stop motion, classical, and pixilation animation to celebrate the inventor and the innovative inventions sparked out of even the smallest ideas. Featuring Art Fry, inventor of the Post-it Note.

Exposed | Mark Sawers Productions Ltd. | 4:30

A young photographer gets stuck in an elevator with an older woman. To break the tedium, he pulls out his camera and begins taking pictures of the woman. At first she refuses to participate, but eventually she relaxes and comes out her shell, revealing her remarkable natural beauty. The photographer finds himself falling for the woman and the next thing he knows, the two of them are discovering a whole new way to pass the time...