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Our 2021 Annual Festival, OCan21, was streamed online from November 12 to 21, out of an abundance of caution due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The film festival programme consisted of 14 films —7 feature-length and 7 short films. We continued our Shorts at Home programme, featuring 8 short films this year. While the annual November festival selections are a result of a competitive selection by our festival jury, the selections for 'Shorts at Home' are non-competitive and curated by our board of directors. All screenings were presented online using Vimeo’s Video on Demand platform as a means to continue our mission to promote and celebrate and promote Canadian filmmakers and films in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As is our usual practice, artists fees were paid for films selected for our annual festival screenings. In 2021, this policy was expanded to pay artist fees to 'Shots at Home' films as well.

Media Advisory

November 26, 2021

'Blue Hour' is the 2021 Audience Favourite at the Ottawa Canadian Film Festival

The Ottawa Canadian Festival is pleased to announce Blue Hour, a feature film about a young man starting a new road construction job in rural Alberta, was the audience favourite at our fifth annual festival, OCan21. Congratulations to director Jesse Picket and the cast & crew.

The Ottawa Canadian Film Festival (OCanFilmFest) is a cultural, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to celebrate Canadian films and filmmakers. Our mission is grounded in the belief that Canadian film and filmmakers are distinctive and vital to our country’s culture and the development of the local economy.

Information about the festival can be found online on the festival's website: ocanfilmfest.ca.

audience favourite

OCan21 Films - Taglines / Synopses and Filmmaker Bios
(November 12-21, 2021)

Blue Hour, Jesse Pickett (Red Deer, AB) [ Narrative | Feature ]

Lee, an anxious young man living in rural Alberta, is about to start a new job in road construction.

Jesse Pickett is a Canadian writer, director, and visual storyteller. He studied photography at Photek, cinematography at the Calgary Society for Independent film, participated in a story workshop through the National Screen Institute, and has a bachelor’s of Motion Picture Arts degree from Capilano University. He is drawn to the genres of science-fiction, speculative fiction, and drama. Pickett choses to explore themes such as disability, loss, memory, fragmentation, routine, aging, masculinity stereotypes, senior citizen abuse, and familial obligation.

More info: Trailer | Filmmaker's Intro | Instagram (Muskrat Pass Productions) | Instagram (Jesse Pickett, Director) | Twitter

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Camp Tipsy, Jana Stackhouse (Toronto, ON) [ Narrative | Short ]

At age 14, Ellie is struggling with alcoholism. She finds Camp Tipsy, a camp that helps teens quit drinking.

Jana Stackhouse is an award-winning director celebrated for her warm and personal films which have screened at festivals internationally including TIFF, FIN Atlantic International Film Festival, Wales International Film Festival and Los Angeles CineFest. Jana has received some of the country's top awards for her work, including The Norman Jewison Award, The Harvey Hart Director’s Award, Best Direction, Most Moving Film and Best Film of the Fest. Jana wrote and directed the short film "Away Home", which was selected for TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival and screened at Ottawa Canadian Film Fest in 2018. She directed the web series "Note To Self" for CBC, which has garnered over 2 million views and received a Canadian Screen Award Nomination for Best Web Program or Series and a Canadian Comedy Award nomination for Best Web Series. Most recently, Jana directed the pilot episode of “My Special Guest”, starring "Workin' Moms" Juno Rinaldi.

More info: Trailer | Instagram (Camp Tipsy) | Instagram (Jana Stackhouse, Director) | Facebook

Read Angus' review: Camp Tipsy

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Company Town, Peter Findlay (Toronto, ON) [ Documentary | Feature ]

When GM announces it’s closing its plant, the autoworkers of Oshawa are in for the fight of their lives.

Peter Findlay is a documentary filmmaker and former CBC producer with a passion for social justice and verité storytelling. His work has appeared on CBC, CTV, PBS, Discovery, History TV, TVO, ZDF-Arte, and SBS Australia, among others. Findlay’s work has garnered multiple nominations and awards from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and TV, Worldfest Houston, HotDocs, and the Canadian Science Writers Association, among others. His documentaries have also been selected for a variety of festival screenings including DOXA in Vancouver, the Atlantic Film Festival, Edmonton’s Northwest Fest, the FREEP Festival in Detroit, the Economist Film Project/Open Society Foundations, the New York Festivals, Cinema Politica, and the Canadian Labour International Film Festival. His most recent film, “Company Town”, was also a finalist for four 2021 Canadian Screen Awards, including best director and best documentary program.

More info: Trailer | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Peter Findlay on LinkedIn

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Curbside Pickup, Hingman Leung (Ottawa, ON) [ Narrative | Short ]

What if the hardest thing about dating in 2020 wasn't the pandemic?

Hingman Leung is a self-taught independent filmmaker who uses storytelling for social good, through both documentary and narrative forms. Her background in film photography and music production combined with her intercultural research and professional expertise underpin her filmmaking approach. Hingman is drawn to stories that create bridges between different ways of seeing the world. Her work ethic strives to help move the needle on representation in media in Canada both in front of and behind the camera. Her first documentary film, No Doggy Bag Please received the 2015 Public Ethnography Award from Royal Roads University and which was selected to screen at the Waste in Asia Conference and Film Festival in 2015. Her latest documentary film, I Am: Limitless, tells the story of women of colour at skateparks in Ottawa carving out a path to belong. Curbside Pickup is a short dark romantic comedy that explores the impact of isolation on relationships.

More info: Trailer | Instagram

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The Debate, Allison Elizabeth Burns (Ottawa, ON) [ Dance | Short ]

Curious about the other, suspicious of the other, our differences get in the way.

Allison Elizabeth Burns is a compassionate performing arts professional with a strong commitment to public engagement in dance. Allison is a choreographer, performer, educator, and producer based in Ottawa. She is recognized for the ability to create digestible dialogue about dance, and a welcoming atmosphere for audience members. As a passionate dance advocate, she promotes dance awareness and comprehension through workshops, talks, and podcasts. She founded, produces and hosts the dance podcast, Dirty Feet, conducting and archiving hundreds of interviews with dance artists around the world. Allison choreographs evocative contemporary dance and produces showcases that celebrate the work of local dance artists featuring a variety styles. Allison has choreographed and performed in multidisciplinary projects, plays, videos, dance works, and commissions. Recent creations involve polarizing groups, feminist issues, immortal hedonists, and time travel. Her work has been presented at various festivals across Canada.

More info: Trailer | Filmmaker's Intro | Website | Instagram | Facebook | Patreon

Read Alvin's review: The Debate

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The Flexed Arm Hang, Findlay Brown (Winnipeg, MB) [ Narrative | Short ]

A young boy attempts to get a silver medal in the most daunting of middle school challenges, the flexed arm hang.

Findlay Brown recently graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing/Film) from McGill University where he was a scholarship athlete and Academic All Canadian. He is currently attending the American Film Institute Conservatory as a producing fellow. He was the producer, writer and director of The Flexed Arm Hang, his first film.

More info: Trailer |LinkedIn (Findlay Brown)

Read Alvin's review: The Flexed Arm Hang
Read Angus' review: The Flexed Arm Hang

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I'll See You Later, Bruce McAllister & Jesse Nakano (Chestermere, AB) [ Documentary | Feature ]

I’ll See You Later tells the life altering stories of adoption, profoundly carried between families learning to embody love together.

Bruce McAllister is a communicator and connector. He works with the brightest minds in Alberta to help solve complex problems and bring important conversations to center stage. Bruce runs his own public affairs and communications company (Right Angle Communications & Consulting) and explores all possibilities to tell important stories. His love of storytelling grew in the newsroom where he worked for 20 years in several major Canadian cities as an anchor and reporter, finishing his career in TV as host of The Morning News on Global Calgary. Bruce’s curious nature and passion to impact positive change led him to the political arena where he served a term in the Alberta Legislature gaining valuable experience and insight into how decisions and policy at a political level impact us all. He narrated and co-wrote, produced and directed “I’ll See You Later,” a film about adoption to help shape a more positive story around the world of adoption and share some of the remarkable experiences that people from all sides of the adoption process experience.

More info: Trailer | Trailer | Website | Facebook

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LUNE, Aviva Armour-Ostroff & Arturo Perez Torres (Toronto, ON) [ Narrative | Feature ]

Miriam is a South African born Jew raising her seventeen year old daughter, Eliza, in 1994 Canada. Nelson Mandela’s upcoming election triggers a manic episode in the bipolar Miriam, who has spent years fighting apartheid. Fuelled by the introduction of Mike, Eliza’s Black boyfriend, Miriam‘s mania escalates as she navigates politics, religion, the metal health care system, and parenting.

Aviva Armour-Ostroff was born in Montreal, raised in South Africa, and has called Toronto home for over thirty years. Since graduating from George Brown Theatre School, Aviva has made a name for herself as an accomplished stage actor and director, having seven Dora nominations and one win to her credit. Aviva founded and produced The Lab Cab Festival, an annual multi-arts festival of new works that she ran for thirteen years. Aviva was heavily involved in new play development, combining her skills as an actor, director, dramaturg and playwright. With experience being in front of the camera, Aviva first got behind the lens in 2016, when she and Arturo Perez Torres directed and produced The Drawer Boy. The film, based on the play by the same name, won fourteen international film festival awards. Drawing inspiration from stage craft, Aviva incorporates theatrical practices into her filmmaking.

Arturo Pérez Torres was born and raised in Mexico City, studied film at San Francisco State University and completed a Master’s degree in sociology at the University of Amsterdam. After working for five years in advertising as Art Director in Amsterdam and Austin, Arturo moved to Toronto where he directed his first documentary film in 2003. In 2009, two years after becoming a Canadian citizen, Arturo was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship, making him the only Canadian to win the prestigious award that year. In 2010 he received an Honorable Mention by the Freedom to Create Organization, in 2011 he was inducted into the Mexican Hall of Creators and in 2015 he was awarded the Chalmers Fellowship. Arturo has directed five feature documentary films and two narrative features. His films have received 20 awards from national and international major festivals and have screened at the MoMA in New York City, on the National Geographic Channel, CBC and the Sundance Channel. Lune is his second fiction film and second collaboration with co-director Aviva Armour-Ostroff. Awas born in Montreal, raised in South Africa, and has called Toronto home for over thirty years. Since graduating from George Brown Theatre School, Aviva has made a name for herself as an accomplished stage actor and director, having seven Dora nominations and one win to her credit. Aviva founded and produced The Lab Cab Festival, an annual multi-arts festival of new works that she ran for thirteen years. Avivrience being in front of the camera, Aviva first got behind the lens in 2016, when she and partner Arturo Perez Torres directed and produced The Drawer Boy. The film, based on the play by the same name, won fourteen international film festival awards. Finding her home behind the lens, Aviva has since directed a short film, webseries, and completed a feature titled Lune, set to premiere at Cinequest in the Spring of 2021. Drawing inspiration from stage craft, Aviva incorporates theatrical ideologies into her filmmaking.

More info: Teaser | Trailer | Website | Instagram

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Mute, Constance Hilton (Toronto, ON) [ Narrative | Short ]

Mute details the emotional and physical destruction that follows a middle aged woman after she learns of her husband's infidelity. Mute is based on the short story of the same name by Stephen King, acquired through his Dollar Baby program for emerging filmmakers.

Constance Hilton is a first time director with over a decade of industry experience working as a Boom Operator. Based in Toronto, Canada her credits include the Emmy nominated comedy series Schitt's Creek and sci-fi thriller Orphan Black. Born and raised near Hamilton, Ontario, Constance graduated from Sheridan College's Media Arts program in 2007 before beginning her career in film. She currently serves as VP Sound for the Ontario union of film, television and new media technicians, NABET 700-M UNIFOR.

More info: Trailer | Instagram (Mutefilmproductions) | Instagram (Constance Hilton, Director)

Read Alvin's review: Mute

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My Tree, Jason Sherman (Toronto, ON) [ Documentary | Feature ]

A Canadian Jew goes to Israel to search for the tree that was planted there in his name 40 years earlier.

Jason Sherman is one of Canada’s most influential and prolific playwrights, with a multi-award winning body of work that has been produced around the world, including the US, UK and China. Among his plays are Patience, It’s All True, The Retreat and Three in the Back, Two in the Head, which won the Governor General’s Award for Drama. Sherman has also written extensively for the screen, notably the docudramas Jonestown: Paradise Lost, and We Were Children, about Canada’s residential schools system, as well as numerous one-hour dramas for network and cable television, including two shows he executive- produced: Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures and The Listener. He also created and wrote a number of radio dramas for the CBC, including two long-running series: National Affairs and Afghanada. MY TREE is his first feature-length documentary as both writer and director.

More info: Trailer | Twitter | HotDocs

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Parallel Minds, Benjamin Ross Hayden (Calgary, AB) [ Narrative | Feature ]

An artificially engineered intelligence known as U.R.M. becomes dangerously corrupted when a technology firm develops a contact lens of the future which records human vision to recreate memories.

Benjamin Ross Hayden is a Métis film director, writer, and producer based in Alberta, from Duck Lake and Batoche region, working around the world as a film director in the Director’s Guild of Canada. Hayden recently directed, wrote and produced his third theatrical feature, The First Encounter. Hayden’s films all have garnered theatrical releases, and in 2020, Hayden’s sophomore feature Parallel Minds premiered in over thirty-eight international film festivals worldwide. Past selections include Perspective Canada at Cannes, Sitges, Montreal, and Fantaspoa International Film Festival. Hayden’s features are commercially sold in over thirty-three countries with numerous broadcasts on premium television and SVOD. Hayden is repeatedly noted by industry professionals for his strong creative vision and collaborative approach - striving to evolve consistently original work with style and substance from an Indigenous perspective.

More info: Trailer | Manifold Pictures

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Pinball & Perogies, Sammy J. Lewis (Ottawa, ON) [ Documentary | Short ]

Ottawa small business/live music venue, ‘House of Targ’, struggles to stay afloat through the global pandemic. What does this mean for the owners and the local Ottawa community? Is there more than just a small business at stake?

Sammy J. Lewis is a recent graduate from the Film and Media program at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Canada. "Pinball & Perogies" is his first documentary.

More info: Trailer| Vimeo | LinkedIn

Read Alvin's review: Pinball & Perogies
Read Angus' review: Pinball & Perogies

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Seeking Oblivion, Brent Baird (London, ON) [ Narrative | Feature ]

Seeking Oblivion follows the story of a young man struggling with depression and a post suicide attempt. Is he broken, or are those around him who are supposed to be helping him actually in need of him more?

Brent Baird is a Canadian actor, writer, and director born and raised in London Ontario Canada . He has appeared in several indie films and television series since graduating from the Fanshawe College Theatre Arts program in 2008. Seeking Oblivion is Brent's directorial debut. This film has been a passion project for many years and we hope you will enjoy it.

More info: Trailer | Filmmaker's Intro | Facebook | Instagram

Read Alvin's review: Seeking Oblivion

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What Flowers They Bloom, C. Hudson Hwang (Toronto, ON) [ Documentary | Short ]

The implications of COVID-19 disinformation, mental health and anti-Asian racism through the eyes of a Toronto florist. The documentary includes interviews with leading academics and researchers from the University of Toronto and was reviewed by academics from Laval University and the University of Western Ontario.

C. Hudson Hwang is an award-winning Taiwanese Canadian filmmaker, born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. His recent multiple award-winning film, “Miracle, Baby” chronicles the life of pro-hockey player Cory Conacher and his complicated journey to the NHL while living with Type 1 Diabetes. Hwang founded SUPRE in 2017.

More info: Trailer | Filmmaker's Intro | Instagram (SUPRE) | Instagram | Twitter

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Shorts at Home - Volume 3 (March 13, 2021)

Dirt Town, Lisa Meuser [ Narrative | Short ]

It took one call to change her life forever. When her husband, a train conductor working for the Canadian Pacific Railway, got transferred to work in a remote place in British Colombia, an unhappy wife is now forced to adapt to a new reality and to a husband that she no longer recognizes.

More info: Trailer | film613 review

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Primary Colours Written & Performed by Roua Aljied, Derek Price [ Cine-poetry | Short ]

A cine-poem by Sudanese-Canadian artist Roua Aljied, aka Philosi-fire, about the realities of domestic violence and how each step a woman takes is a new colour to paint on the canvass of her life. Created in partnership with Women in International Security Canada and the 16 Days of Activism Campaign in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

More info: Trailer | CFMDC

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Night Drive, Arjan Atwal [ Experimental | Short ]

A mixtape triggers memories of a past romance and a haunting past.

More info: Trailer

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death isn’t the same anymore,
Jennifer Mulligan [ Experimental | Short ]

“death isn’t the same anymore” is an experimental cinepoem that explores the intimate relationship humans have with their beds, and the cyclical nature of life between birth and death.

More info: Trailer | Vimeo | Official Website | film613 review

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Shorts at Home - Volume 4 (April 21, 2021)

Honestly Charlotte, Sarah Hedar
[ Narrative | Short ]

In a world where artists need day jobs, one woman speaks the truth. A routine job interview goes sideways when the applicant gets completely honestly about what it’s like to be an artist trapped in a corporate cubicle.

More info: Trailer | Series website

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The Gift, Lorelei E. Miller [ Narrative | Short ]

When you’re lost and broken what brings you back? A young man struggling with depression embarks on a journey back into the world he withdrew from. The Gift is a journey to find out what really motivates us as we navigate through the challenges in our lives.

More info: Trailer | Official website

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Unfinished Manuscript, Vincent Valentino
[ Narrative | Short ]

A writer spends his life chasing that one thing that will define him, eventually coming to terms with what he has gained and what he has lost.

More info: Trailer

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News, Robert Bazzocchi
[ Narrative | Short ]

News is nothing but information–it is its consequences that provoke us.

More info: Trailer

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Media Advisory

October 2, 2021

Ottawa Canadian Film Festival 2021 - A Celebration of Canadian Independent Film

The Ottawa Canadian Festival is pleased to announce our fifth annual festival, OCan21, taking place between November 12 and 21. This year’s festival is being streamed online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and out of an abundance of caution. This year's film festival program consists of 7 feature-length films and 7 short films including:

...and many others.

"We are lucky to live in a city that hosts so many different film festivals throughout the year.” says Ottawa Canadian Film Festival co-founder Jith Paul. “What makes OCanFilmFest unique is that we focus exclusively on Canadian films — excellent, compelling, thought-provoking, entertaining films by Canadian writers and directors from across the country. This year’s line-up features films of various genres and lengths so there’s something for almost everyone.”

The Ottawa Canadian Film Festival (OCanFilmFest) is a cultural, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to celebrate Canadian films and filmmakers. Our mission is grounded in the belief that Canadian film and filmmakers are distinctive and vital to our country’s culture and the development of the local economy.

Information about the festival program, the films, filmmakers can be found online on the festival's website: ocanfilmfest.ca.