Indie filmmakers strut on the screen

By Mike Carron

Have you ever wondered what kinds of films are being made in Alberta? The Calgary Society of Independent filmmakers has an answer for you. The CSIF is co-hosting a collection of independent short films and videos in order to raise awareness about Canadian and Albertan independent filmmakers. The collection, Prairie Tales, will showcase the talents of mostly local filmmakers.

The 11 shorts are extremely unique and leave no doubt that they are independent. The content of each short is extremely varied, from the hand-scratched animation of Richard Reeves music-driven piece Sea Song, to the poetic and experimental By This Parting from director Mieko Ouchi. The length of the shorts averages seven minutes.

One of the standout shorts is Trevor Mahovsky’s animated video Stampede Eats Me Up Inside. The short is crudely drawn, but it still holds viewers’ attention to the very end.

Stampede is a collection of horror stories that revolve around the Calgary Stampede narrated while the screen shows the event being described in fairly humorous detail. This piece should appeal to most locals because we all have our own horror stories about Calgary’s annual rodeo. Mahovsky’s video never veers off course and it is well put together.

The weaker films include Donna Brunsdale’s Golden Agouti, which is the tale of a girl and her guinea pig. Agouti seems to have a tough time deciding when an edit should come, the camera holds and seems to catch the speaker relaxing as though they expected the shot was over.

Agouti also seems to enjoy coldness in her filmmaking. The speaker in the film and the camera work do not give viewers the chance to see what was so amazing about the guinea pig being lamented.

Another difficult piece is Tom Andriuk’s look at obsessive-compulsive behaviour using 1950’s police training manuals entitled Satan’s Orgy. The piece consists of a narrator reading from a manual with pictures from 1936 training manuals accompanying them. The dialogue and the images on the screen never seem to really be in cohesion.

Very seldomly is it easy to see a connection between what is being displayed and what is being spoken. The dialogue itself is an interesting look at how police manuals teach recruits, but it is often lost in the attempt to understand the visuals in the context of the narrator’s speech. What could be a very interesting short is lost in the confusion of trying to make a connection between the images and the sounds presented on the screen.

The CSIF hopes this film collection will showcase the local film scene. Prairie Tales, takes place on Fri., Feb. 11, at 7:30p.m. with a free screening at the CSIF theater, 500-1304 4th St. SW.


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