Closet Monster

Spotlight on Canadian Films - OCanFilmFest

Newfoundland director Stephen Dunn‘s feature film debut Closet Monster, starring Connor Jessup, tells the story of a teenage boy desperate to escape his dysfunctional family and get a job developing special effects for movies. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival  in 2015 where it won the award for Best Canadian Feature Film.

Dunn is an award-winning filmmaker and graduate of Norman Jewison’s Canadian Film Centre and Ryerson University’s Film Program.  I had a chance to meet him in Halifax when our films were competing in CBC’s Short Film Face-off in 2013.  His film Life Doesn’t Frighten Me, starring Gordon Pinsent, won the competition.

Dunn was the youngest filmmaker ever selected for the TIFF Talent Lab where he won two TIFF RBC International Emerging Filmmaker awards for his film, Swallowed.  He attended the Cannes Film Festival – Short Film Corner in 2009 with his film, The Hall, where film critic Roger Ebert highlighted Dunn as an upcoming filmmaker to watch.

Closet Monster is now available to stream on YouTube.

Why Independent Films?

For me the appeal of Independent Film is the same appeal of Triple-A baseball or the OHL – you get to see potential million dollar players on their way up or on their way down.  Either way its a privilege to see the talent, creativity and ability to do more with less that characterize independent artists.

Its fashionable to knock Hollywood as being a non-creative money machine and certainly that’s true in many cases.  What’s interesting to me about big studio films is when filmmakers manage slip some art through to us anyways despite the bottom-line obsession.  Conversely independent films have the reputation as the sanctuary of the artist, unconcerned about revenue as much as recognition and respect.  Well that’s not true either.  Every artist knows they have to sell their current projects if they ever want to make another or step up to a studio some day.  Consequently there is repetition, familiar themes etc. that are drive by realities of the market. Continue reading “Why Independent Films?”

Fox and the Whale

Spotlight on Canadian Films - OCanFilmFest

Toronto filmmaker Robin Joseph‘s self-financed Fox and the Whale is among 10 short animated films that have advanced in the voting process for the 90th Academy Awards.

Directed and produced by Joseph, the film features character animation by Kim Leow, character rig (fox) by Louis Vottero and music by John Poon.  In addition to producing and directing Joseph was responsible for storyboards, backgrounds, 2D animation, VFX, comps, editing, foley & sound design.

Here’s the film.

The 5 final nominees for the best animated short film Oscar will be revealed on January 23, 2018.  The 90th Oscars will be held on March 4th.  Congratulations and good luck, Robin and team!

A Better Man

Spotlight on Canadian Films - OCanFilmFest

A Better Man is a documentary which follows the story of Canadian filmmaker Attiya Khan, a survivor of domestic abuse, as she invites her abuser to discuss the events in their lives from over 20 years ago.  They confront and contrast their memories as they visit their old apartment, school and other places where key events in their past took place.

Co-directed by Khan and Lawrence Jackman the film was an official selection at Hot Docs 2017 and  was presented with a panel discussion hosted by the One World Film Festival at Ottawa U on December 2nd.  If you missed the screening or would like to see the film again, it is now streaming at tvo.org.

Here’s the trailer.

Ben’s at Home

Spotlight on Canadian Films - OCanFilmFest

Ben’s at Home is  a quirky comedy about a 30-year-old guy who has made the unusual decision never to leave the house after a bad break-up.  Thanks to the power of the internet, has finds that abiding by this decision is easier than he thought.

The film is the first feature of award award-winning Canadian director Mars Horodyski.  An alumna of the Canadian Film Centre’s Director’s Lab, she also co-wrote and produced the film.  Lead actor, Producer and co-writer Dan Abramovici is a founding member of Awkward Silence sketch comedy troupe.  The film has screened and won awards in several festivals around the world and is now streaming on Netflix Canada.

Ben’s character reminds me of “Physical Phil” from October Road (2007-2008), one of my favourite TV series of all time.  Mars’ debut feature film is one I really enjoyed and is just the kind of film I would like to make in the future.  Check it out.