Island filmmakers shine at the virtual Vancouver Island Short Film Festival

Culture

Festival features a range of short films on July 23rd and 24th, from local and international filmmakers

Photo provided.

On Friday, July 23 and Saturday, July 24 the 16th annual Vancouver Island Short Film Festival (VISFF) will livestream 14 short films over two days. 

This year’s lineup is a diverse one with films from Canada, Japan, Iran, the U.S., China, and Mexico, including documentaries, comedies, dramas, and animated shorts. For those interested in Vancouver Island filmmakers, five of the 14 shorts were directed by Island residents from Mill Bay, Comox, and Victoria.

The Martlet sat down with two local filmmakers to discuss their short films and the importance of the festival.

Cool Affections

Cool Affections is a funny and absurdist silent film about a man who has an odd relationship with his refrigerator. 

The eight-minute short is one of VISFF’s Official Selections. It is directed by Josh Terry-Brand, the lead editor at Empress Avenue Media, and written and starring Bryn Evans.

Cool Affections is Evans’s first film and Terry-Brand’s directorial debut. In silent films it’s important that, in addition to great scripting and directing, actors display a range of emotions that are both convincing and keep viewers hooked. Evans does just that. He uses a wide range of facial expressions to convey emotion and meaning without using words. Evans also knows how to go for laughs, but at the film’s conclusion he switches on a gripping intensity you’d expect to see in a horror film.

With the film’s quick shots and cuts, thanks to Terry-Brand’s editorial skills, Cool Affections moves with the pace of a thriller. 

“One of the really cool things about watching Josh direct is that he’s directing from the point of view of an editor,” says Evans. “He knows what a good shot looks like.” 

Because Terry-Brand works as a video editor at Empress Avenue Media — spending his days looking through what Evans calls, “the good, the bad, and the ugly of other people’s footage,” — he is uniquely positioned to know how to shoot with post-production in mind. 

Terry-Brand and Evans have submitted Cool Affections to a long list of festivals. But Terry-Brand’s vision for the film was to have it shown locally, and he’s happy that it has been selected to play at VISFF. 

The pair have been shooting ideas back and forth and plan on making another short film. Look out for them in the future — they’ve likely got great stuff on the way.

Before the Beauty is Gone

Another one of VISFF’s selections, Before the Beauty is Gone, is a short documentary directed by Comox-born MacKai Sharp. The documentary highlights the reduction in the number of forage fish off B.C.’s coast and its effect on our oceans. It includes commentary by scientists and activists, and incorporates some stunning underwater and aerial shots of the coastline.

In the documentary, biological assistant Beatrice Proudfoot succinctly explains the effect that overfishing of forage fish can have on our oceans. 

“If we continue to see a decline in forage fish, I think we’re going to keep seeing impacts higher and higher up the food chain…and the whole marine food well will collapse,” says Proudfoot.

When asked why he made the documentary, Sharp says, “I felt passionate about showing the truth about what is happening right in our community, to my peers and people who live all across Vancouver Island.”

He says that because of the lack of proactive policy, much of the industry has gone largely unchecked. He also has a desire to shift the narrative away from blaming fishers and put pressure on policy-makers.

Sharp has submitted Before the Beauty is Gone to many festivals, but is particularly excited about it being shown at VISFF. He thinks it’s great that VISFF is showcasing local filmmakers.

Currently, Sharp is working on a documentary about old growth forests in B.C. 

Those interested in Cool Affections, Before the Beauty is Gone, or exploring the other selected films can watch trailers, read film synopses, and purchase tickets to the festival on VISFF’s website. After Saturday’s live stream, VISFF’s Judging Committee will present awards to the best shorts. Attendees can access the films for three days after the live streams.