TV McGill’s FOKUS film festival is back for a third year, with another colourful lineup of student submissions. This year’s festival has films in five categories: fiction, non-fiction, animation, experimental, and the entries for the 72-hour filmmaking contest. The final selections, chosen by a panel of McGill professors and Montreal film critics, will show on March 24 at Cinéma du Parc at 6 p.m. We’ve previewed some of the local talent to give you a taste of what to expect on the big screen.
An enigmatic sci-fi short shot on grainy Super 8mm film, depicting the bad trip of two friends – a spaceman and a robot – who get high by filling tin cups with black goo and smearing it on their ears. The spaceman then persuades his friend to take a walk outside, where the pair is assaulted by a gang of dancing, music-playing space creatures, who pummel their victims like the apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey, leaving the robot dead. The old-school sci-fi sets and eerie soundtrack give the tragedy an eerie poignancy. Still, a more developed story wouldn’t have hurt.
– Dan Gurin
Filmed in Prague, this fictional short tells the story of a tender old lady who lives alone in her modest apartment and has a passion for rock collections. When she’s not flirting with her neighbour, the protagonist finds consolation in collecting rocks and fossils from deserts around the globe. The little old lady is portrayed as so delicate and lonely that you just want to step into the screen and hug her.
– Veronica French
The strange combination of deafening heavy metal, a serene foresty landscape, and plastic dinosaurs in this short is oddly fantastic. In a fast-paced stop animation, a battle breaks out in a grass patch between the little green army figures and the plastic dinosaurs. I don’t want to give away who wins, but the world would probably be very different had the outcome been otherwise.
Josh Tal presents a short experimental flick set at the Jean Talon market. This juicy montage sets looped sequences of dancing and chewing to music by Portishead. Highlights are repeated detail shots of the various actors’ teeth chomping into ripe apples. The most common effect used is a four-way split screen, which multiplies the subject by four and reduces its size. Despite the film’s washed-out aesthetic, it fulfills a craving for a sunny day with pals.
– Whitney Mallett
This short follows a day’s bizarre events from the perspective of an incredibly adorable homeless man. Starting off in black and white, we observe the delusions of the peppy hobo, and watch him drift into the sky in his bottle-cap covered suit. The Chaplin-esque silent humour and polka music will put a grin on your face.
Pura Vida! is a non-fiction short documenting the travels of a few good Samaritan girls in San Carlos, Costa Rica. The girls volunteer at an elderly home and divide their time between folding laundry, playing card games, and preparing Christmas meals. There are shots of animated drawings from the narrator and interviews with the program organizers. The story is sweet and, dare I say, inspirational, filled with anecdotes, lots of rice and beans, and appropriate guitar music.
Your League: A League for You
Your League is a non-fiction mockumentary, chronicling a mentor relationship between two officials of the McGill intramural basketball league. The film’s two writers play the starring roles, and parody their own earnestness. Lines like “I like exercise…a lot,” and Rupert Common’s explanation of how he lost his whistle, bought a new one, and then found his old one capture the film’s deadpan humour. At first we might wonder, “Is this girl for real?” as Katie Burrell gushes about her job. But on-court trash-talking like “What is this, Airbud?” clears up any uncertainty, and lets us enjoy the film for the joke that it is.
Behind the Magic Schoolbus
This mockumentary, based on the children’s book and cartoon series, consists of two interviews with former “actors” from the show, now aged 26. In exaggerated slang, Keisha explains how her mean-street origins prepared her for exploring the human body – “everyone was tripping out in the esophagus [but] where I’m from I seen shit way rougher than peristaltic motion.” Arnold, the student always reluctant to participate in the class’s adventures – his catchphrase was, “I knew I should have stayed home today” – is now in a mental institute. Both performances are pretty funny, although some of the jokes about sex, drugs, and violence are a bit generic.