2004 Films

L’argent (Money) Canada Isaac Isitan Isaac Isitan Carole Poliquin Powerfully incisive, this film makes us understand just what makes the world go round. Filmed in Argentina and Turkey when both countries were spiralling out of financial control, the film scrutinizes the complex social and political realities that make currencies plunge and nation-states wonky. More to the point, this film exposes how international programs work to undermine the economies of countries such as these two nations, forcing dependency on foreign interests and undermining the value of the local coin. If you don’t learn something new about what money is from this smart and compelling doc, then go directly to Jail and do not pass Go.
Apples & Oranges Canada Lynne Fernie Lynne Fernie, Laura Kosterski Tamara Lynch, Sally Bochner, Douglas Stewart This film is aimed at young audiences but its theme is decidedly serious and adult--homophobia and stereotyping. The film cleverly and enthusiastically mixes animation with live action, enlivening the presentation of a subject that grade schoolers might find silly, embarrassing or just plain boring. Kids don’t always mean well but they can be encouraged to pay attention when their reputation as open-minded thinkers is at stake. Whether you’re an apple or an orange, there’s something worth picking at here.
Bloomsday Cabaret Canada Rosemary House Rosemary House Rosemary House This film is a stunning tribute to the literary genius of James Joyce. Being the 100th anniversary of Bloomsday (read Ulysses), director House cleverly staged a St. John’s cabaret at the centre of her celebration, where the music of Joyce’s turn-of-the-century world is performed with a heavy ration of Irish brio. The film also tracks newfoundlanders brian Hennessey and Sherry White to Dublin, where they encounter the sensual appeal of smoky pubs, ancient alleyways and the white strip of tidal mudflat that so powerfully claimed Joyce’s imagination. We always knew how much St. John’s resembled Dublin, but seeing how much this is so makes us wish Joyce were around to toast House’s beautiful film.
Burst Iceland Reynir Lyngdal Reynir Lyngdal Vibeke Vogel, Anna Dis Olafsdottir A startling dance performance informs this memorable video.This short tape beings with a couple in bed, doing what comes naturally. Curiously, their rousing physical exchange springs a leak, so to speak. Much beautiful chaos ensues, assisted invisibly by trampolines and an exploding water tank. Award-winning Icelandic director Lyngdal has been called a “genius at work”. Any artist who can force you to throw out that musty 60’s waterbed, once and for all, obviously has strange power.
Ceux Qui Attendent (Those Who Wait) Canada Herménéglide Chiasson Cécile Chevrier Cécile Chevrier An evenhanded documentary about fishing rights, this film navigates the murky waters of history and cultural difference. We all recall the late ‘90s drama playing out nightly on the news between the Acadians and the Mi’kmaq of Burnt Church, New brunswick. Suddenly , it seemed, two cultures long bound together in friendship were involved in intense conflict over management of the lobster fishery. This film’s rational approach to a vexed subject is to look at the situation from both sides. This is an insightful record of a social and political condition, one that won’t disappear with the bullying presence of a boat or two from DFO.
Circuit Marnie Canada Isabelle Favez Isabelle Favez Patrick Eveno, Jacques-Rémy Girerd, Marcel Jean This is a highly whimsical essay about a less than admirable respect of the food chain: when you’re hungry you’ll eat anything, over and over again. Swiss-born director Favez makes expert use of NFB resources, paining a gingham-inspired picture of a pirate ship as the backdrop to her provocative theme. A cat, a parrot and a goldfish share centre deck as the ship on which they slurp and roll pitches wildly in the hungry seas.
Control Room USA Jehane Noujaim Julia Bacha, Jehane Noujaim Rosadel Varela Given the controversial decision by the CRTC to not allow an unedited Al Jazeera broadcast into Canada, this well balanced documentary is even more important than ever. This controversial documentary focuses on the Arab satellite news network, but essentially its project is it examine how “both sides” covered the Iraq conflict, showing us how fragile and uncertain this things called “facts” of the day are. It is sobering to look at the way meaning is shaped, moulded, tweaked and sometimes twisted in the service of ideology. This film wisely focuses on the human side of conflict, trailing three interesting and very different players with contradictory views about the war and the future of the region. Indeed, the whole world depends on these events, and how news is reported, to inform them.
Cowboys in Kosovo The Netherlands Corinne van Egeraat Corinne van Egeraat Corinne van Egeraat This film follow the reunion of Albanian Agim with his brothers and cousins in what was once Yugoslavia. Agim sought asylum in Amsterdam when the war broke out but his family stayed to fight and struggle. The documentary allows the men to re-enact their childhood fantasies of playing cowboys in peacetime, but in the wake of so much real strife and trauma, their once harmless games assume a more sinister aspect. It’s a clever device and one that allows the filmmaker to explore the brutal effects of war on ordinary people.
La Cueca Sola Chile Marilú Mallet Marilú Mallet Marilú Mallet, Yves Bisaillon The title of this political documentary refers to the traditional Chilean courtship ritual, but you’ll notice the “sola” suggests one partner is missing. This is the story of the lingering after-effects of the 1973 takeover of Santiago by a military dictatorship led by Augusto Pinochet. The director tracks the lives of five extraordinary women whose partners or loved ones “disappeared” in that struggle. What unfolds through the narrative and the film’s record of their admirable persistence is the history of Chile itself and the unrelenting resistance of the people to the dictatorships thrust upon them.
Deluge Australia Flordeliz Bonifacio Flordeliz Bonifacio Samantha Jennings We love filmmakers who appreciate the wit of brevity. Such is the case with this remarkable Australian short, an award-winning story about a hard working family. Under the punishing sun, a father and his two boys toil at maintaining a large swimming pool complex. the head of the family has a lot to complain about, the older boy is practically paralyzed with alienation, and the younger and more naive child sees the world as an alternately troubled and imaginative place. The satisfying accomplishment of this film is a sure sign that filmmaker Bonifacio has bigger--if not longer--things in store for herself.
Don't Blink Canada Heather Harkins Heather Harkins Michael Fukushima You would be advised to take the command of this film seriously. You’ve only got a minute to get it and this short is so wonderful you wouldn’t want to miss a frame. NFB’s animation studio gathered a bunch of promising filmmakers from across the country and mentored them to healthy fruition. The “Hot House” environment has given us this delightful 66-second meditation by Heather Harkness on loneliness. You’ll be highly impressed, especially if you resist the reflex to lower your lids.
Durelle Canada Ginette Pellerin Ginette Pellerin Gilles Losier, Jacques Turgeon To anyone born in New brunswick, the title rings more than a bell. It sounds the end of a round of regional history, with the exceptionally strong champion boxer Yvon Durelle in the victory corner. When you grow up as one of fourteen children in Acadian New Brunswick, you’re bound to get tough. Once ranked as the British Empire light heavyweight champion, Durelle went on to fight the legendary Archie Moore in 1958 at the peak of his career. A massive and often brutal fighter, Durelle comes off in this moving doc as a gentle soul, full of feeling and inarticulate dreams. Tragically, in the late 70’s Durelle’s famous life took a fateful turn, one that helped make the career of a young lawyer named Frank McKenna.
Eaude Canada Thea Pratt Thea Pratt Michael Fukushima A journey into the animated world of the mind. This film pays tribute to water, moving a graceful puppet through a dive into the seas of the filmmaker’s imagination.
Fazzi UK Helen Underwood Miller Helen Underwood Miller Helen Underwood Miller Filmmaker Miller has-had?-a cat named Fazzi. One summer she took Fazzi and her other kitty to Bologna. The cats had one-way tickets. Change is rough, but when you’re a moody ball of black fur, even Italy can be less than welcoming.
Flatly Stacked Canada Michael Macnamara Judy Holm, Michael Macnamara This witty doc explores our culture’s ongoing obsession with large breasts and the flat-chested women who can’t seem to share any of Victoria’s Secrets. The filmmakers follow women of all ages in their quest for self-acceptance.
Flip Phone Canada Daniel Kash Hayley Tyson Hayley Tyson A truly contemporary product, this film is nothing less than a totally hilarious take on every girlfriend’s nightmare. You might have already seen this wittily crafted short on ZED many times. It’s worth re-viewing just to hear the squeals of delight from other audience members. Tyson’s success with this saucy short has already spawned a six-part series called North of Lawrence. With such a wicked sense of humor who needs girlfriends anyway?
Full Circle Ireland Simon Fitzmaurice Simon Fitzmaurice Karol Sadleur, Ross McDonnell Established as an award-winning masterpiece, this film stars Tara Lynne O’Neill as Phillipa, a shy girl who works in a chip shop. Her relentless crush on Paul, the badge-wearing security guard across the street, drives a simple but affecting plot--one narrated by Phillipa’s liltingly Irish voice. This film will live in you long after Phillipa and Paul first make eye contact.
La Guerre A Tuéle Chien du Roi (The War Killed the King’s Dog) Canada Zabelle Coté Zabelle Coté Zabelle Coté The title pretty well sums it up, but this animated short needs to be seen to be appreciated. The fun is all in the details: the director and animator enlivens her digital images with hilariously nuanced observations about the royalty common behaviour of kings and queens. Who knew they liked stove top popcorn just like the rest of us? Keep your eyes open: the dog might be the titular subject but the adults are well worth your notice.
I Dare Not Go Canada Adriana Maggs Adriana Maggs Adriana Maggs, Anna Petras Conceived, written and shot in Newfoundland, this study in grief and adolescent longing is a sure sign of local filmmaker Adriana Magg’s huge potential. The plot centers on Crystal Janes, a young girl with an odd relationship to her dead brother. Typically moody and self absorbed, Crystal is nonetheless sensitive and smart. Growing up is hard enough in average families, let alone one still working through its grief and guilt. A strong performance by Marthe Bernard as Crystal helps to anchor the story in a strong sense of realism, ghostly presences and all.
Immersion Canada Megann Reid Megann Reid Michael Fukushima Another lively minute of creative intensity brought to you by animation Hothouse of NFB. Director Reid draws and draws on one of life’s most calming spaces: the bath. Watercolor pencil crayons appropriately capture the serene solitude afforded by the soft liquid realm of the tub. Just sit back soak it all in.
I Seoni (The Dream) The Netherlands Carin Goeijers Carin Goeijers Jan Heijis, Ruud Monster, Wouter Snip We love this intimate portrait of Reinard Dewus, otherwise identified as the singer Rein Mercha, unknown to us but famously popular among his own people--the Sinti, known in a more vulgar way as “Gypsies”. This film is largely Reinard’s story, and larger than life he is. Yearning to make it in the business as a crooner of ballads about his own long-wandering people, eager to sing in his native language of Romanes, he wants to be the first biggest mainstream Sinti celebrity. We follow this pursuit even while his strict hold on ancient traditions starts to loosen. In exploring Reinard’s dogged determination to make it all work, this documentary shows us a great deal about a disappearing culture. We didn’t even take it for granted because we knew so little about it--until now.
It's A Girl's World Canada Lynn Glazier Lynn Glazier Gerry Flahive This is a film about the world of girls, as difficult and tumultuous as any occupied by their brothers. Challenging all myths about the inherent peaceful natures of creatures made of sugar and spice. This film takes us directly onto the playground where daily life is charged with the unsavoury reality of bullying. Not only are girls capable of being mean, but they are also brilliant at outfoxing each other’s attempts to get even or ahead. This is a disturbing but sobering look at a current social reality, one that has ended in tragedy for girls in BC and continues to menace families everywhere that is so-called civilized society. The director uses her camera as more than a recording diary, however; the lens acts as an agent of discovery and resolution. One can only hope that the filming process in itself has led to a much deeper understanding of its hidden world.
Janet Conners-From the Heart Canada Mary Lynk Mary Lynk Gerry Flahive Almost everyone remembers the excruciating struggle of Nova Scotia native Randy Conners to claim both dignity and recompense for himself and others who were victims of the tainted blood scandal. Few will remember the woman by his side at all the press conferences the unsinkable Janet Conners. Filmmaker Lynk does noble justice to this astonishingly persistent woman--a Nova Scotian housewife with the determination of a hurricane. Janet took on the Red Cross and whimpering politicians who passed the buck faster than the spread of HIV. Her efforts eventually paid off, giving proof to the maxim that one person really can change the system--albeit she has to be a smart, defiant, angry and articulate person like Janet. Her story is both fascinating and inspirational--what more could you want in a documentary--or a woman?
Louise Canada Anita Lebeau Anita Lebeau Jennifer Torrance, Michael Scott Let’s just say that animation doesn’t get more realistic than this. Louise follows a day in the life of an elderly woman on Belgian-Canadian descent living in Manitoba. Independent, accomplished and resolutely herself, Louise is everyone’s ideal grandmother. She is 96 and apt to mix up her days but this woman rocks, both in and out of her chair.
Lynn and Harriett Canada Linda Fitzpatrick Linda Fitzpatrick Linda Fitzpatrick Audiences everywhere are howling with delight at the unpredictable turn of this highly original film. Newfoundlander Lynn Murphy befriends a pig--the Harriet of the title. Friendship wasn’t exactly what Lynn had in mind; pork roast and ham was more like it. What to do, therefore, when the time comes to fulfill Harriet’s fate? Move over Babe--Harriet’s pink warm snout leaves a lasting impression long after the dinner table’s been set.
The Man Cam Canada Colleen Power Colleen Power Colleen Power You’ve heard of the male gaze? Well, Colleen Power’s musical video triumph exploits that concept in full amazing detail. Fortunately, Power’s gaze is just as sharp. Her eyes definitely have it.
Mardi (Quel Jour Etait-Ce?)/Tuesday (What Day Is It?) Canada Lyne Charlebois Lyne Charlebois, Christine Albertoni Lyne Charlebois, Christine Albertoni Ever wonder what makes some moments last forever and others dissolve into a pool of regret? This fascinating psychological portrait of a man and a woman captures more in eight short minutes than most novels manage in hundreds of pages. This is a beautifully short narrative of a moment that changes everything.
Meine Eltern (My Parents) Germany Neele Vollmar Maggie Peren Caroline Daube Every straight woman’s nightmare/ You meet a guy who’s so crazy about you that he wants to meet your parents. Problem is your parents are as ordinary as bratwurst. Marie stretches the truth a little, telling her boyfriend her parents really are as cool as Pils(ner). Lydia and Erhard have been married for more than 25 years and haven't thought about romance since Fassbeinder was a baby. Maria urges them to play along and the plot takes off from that, in all manner of hilarious ways. This comic short might be in German but it's wise sensibility and gentle middle class satire is as universal as a Volkwagen.
Moo(n) UK Leigh Hodgkinson Leigh Hodgkinson Maria Manton This film traces the relationship between a girl and her bovine pal. That really doesn’t tell you anything about what an imaginative short this is, emboldened by its sheer animated wit. You have to see it for yourself. It’s a plain hoot. We can say that for anyone suffering from the curse of a col, this film does provide some homespun advice. Hey Diddle Diddle, this fine film’s a riddle.
More Sensitive Canada Gail Noonan Gail Noonan Gail Noonan This is a wonderful two-minute romp through a bar where a hapless pianist tries to perform amid the clamor of self-absorbed patrons. More Sensitive is a virtual encyclopedia of animation techniques, from hand-colored photographs, cutouts, plasticine, drawing on paper and cel to optical effects: why shoot the piano player when he’s in a little masterpiece like this?
My Original Sin Canada Lucie Pagé Lucie Pagé, Bill Campbell Deborah MacDonald, Bill Campbell For the little Catholic girl in all of us, this film narrates eight-year old Eléa’s expulsion from the garden, and we are not talking about Bannerman Park. Her teacher urges her to confess her sins but so far she can’t come up with anything real enough. Finally, she finds an opportunity via her sister’s lust for a hot pink sweater. Eléa’s mother disapproves of the scandalous item, but Eléa is determined to help her sister find satisfaction. Sure enough, sin follows, marking the memory and leading the way to this totally charming little film.
Putin's Mama The Netherlands Ineke Smits Ineke Smits Pieter van Huystee It doesn’t get much stronger than this. Vera is a 77-year old peasant living in Soviet Georgia who claims she is Vladimir Putin’s mother. Who knew he had one? KGB agents are not permitted to have parents and so the logic hold that Putin denied his own mother’s existence. But Vera has anecdotes and pictures to prove it, and so we are bound to be drawn into the truth of her claims, even while the President of Russia refuses to acknowledge her existence. It’s an amazing and sad story, as Vera ches for contact with her son and regrets the fate that took him away from her. This film makes you realize why the leader of such a vast and troubled country never seems to smile, let alone make direct eye contact with people. You’ll never see this momma’s boy the same way again.
Rani Hindustani India Priti Chandriani Priti Chandriani Pac Productions We love stories about rebellious women and no one is more unconventional than the subject of this lively doc. Rani Hindustani not only gave herself her own name but also defied all traditional cultural practices and set out to live an independent identity. She has a child without marriage and a profession without precedent--truck driving. Breaker Breaker, we have a remarkable woman ahead. wait til you see how Rani defines the nuclear family. It doesn’t get more patriarchy-challenged than this.
Relativity Canada Brenda Kovrig Brenda Kovrig Andrea Nemtin, Brenda Kovrig A highly creative treatment of the documentary form, a mix of personal point of view and objective exploration of larger social issues about identity and belonging. Director Kovrig claims she fell into this subject when she received notice that her birth mother had been located. A happily adopted urban daughter, Kovrig had no idea where the journey would lead, and what sorts of feelings she would experience as the encounter with her rural birth family transpired. Kovrig conveys her own quest for identity with an appealing sense of humor and an artist’s love of the dramatic.
Scheinheilig Switzerland Kornelija Naraks Kornelija Naraks HGK Zurich Film/Video The German title refers to something sacred, but to get the ironic nuance of its practically untranslatable meaning you need to see this amusing pastoral fable. The tale begins with a fortuitously named couple, Mary and Jacques, on the Iam on December 24th. Mar was wounded in a police skirmish while running from the crime and Jacques now attempts to find shelter on this snowy evening. Luckily, they come upon a barn in the mountains, surrounded by a curious donkey and some sheep. Coincidence or conspiracy? wait for the mystery.
Six and the City USA Hanelle M. Culpepper Fred Cheng Noelle Pflum You cannot afford to miss this riotously comic parody of one of our culture’s most adored television series. Ever wonder what Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte were like as six-year olds? Well now you’ll know. This film picks up from the beginning, when the girls were wrestling with a pressing question: “If Men are from Mars, where are Boys from?”. Life on the playground is fraught with challenge. One moment you’re batting your eyelashes at a cute guy and the next he’s seesawing with someone else. Preternaturally aware, the girls have long ago abandoned Barbie for the charged experience of flirting. the kissing starts here.
So Close to Home Australia Jessica Hobbs Madeleine Blackwell Samantha jennings, Martin Williams Australian filmmaker Williams this short as a political story. Two strangers on a train end up being bound together in unusual and not always satisfactory ways. Maggie is a self-possessed woman whose solitude is interrupted by Azra, a young Albanian refugee who becomes something of a sticky pest. Maggie can’t live with her and can’t seem to shake her, and before you know it they’re dealing with Maggie’s insecure and domineering mother. This film cleverly tangled up in strong emotions and awkward truth as this triangle of self-willed female protagonists must cope with each other's needs. We think this is a superb example of what happens both down under and everywhere there are casualties of war.
A Stolen Moment Canada Audrey Cummings Audrey Cummings Jordan Gross This film takes up the challenge of sci-fi, demonstrating the power of a strong dramatic line in a futuristic context. Filmmaker Cummings does a superb job of conveying a world gone bad form disease and viruses. Forced to wear protective gear, people live in pristine isolation, removed from their own inner needs as much as from others. One day Sophie makes contact with a stranger, and that moment changes everything.
Teaching Peace in a Time of War Canada Teresa MacInnes Teresa MacInnes, Erna Buffie Peter D’Entremont, Kent Martin This film breathes new life into the tired notion of empowerment. The story follows a modest woman named Hetty van Gurp who turned personal tragedy into missionary work. Her son was literally bullied to death at a school in Nova Scotia and so she founded the league of Peaceful Schools, a program dedicated to teaching young--and older--minds the value of collaboration and problem solving. Not only does Hetty’s work have an impact on Canada, but she takes her cause to war-scarred Serbia, where both teachers and students are still trying to make sense of the violence that tore up their lives. This forceful film makes you realize the critical importance of teaching peace along with math and gym. It’s a subject you can’t just take for granted.
Undying Love Canada Helene Klodawsky Helene Klodawsky Ina Fichman This documentary offers “True Stories of Courage and Faith”. We enter the past to a series of narratives about love lost and found under the most unimaginably horrible experiences. Filmmaker Klodawsky weaves a rich tapestry of intimate details as a number of Holocaust survivors recount their attempts to remain utterly human in the midst of such atrocity. There have of course been many docs about the Holocaust, but this one offers a unique opportunity to see how many individuals found meaning and fulfillment in spite of the grim nature of their circumstances. This film is ultimately an affirmative testimony of what can make us utterly human.
The Walk of Shame Canada Jennifer Saull Jennifer Saull Kimberly Bagayawa, Jennifer Saull This charming short perfectly crafts a comic drama about a trying situation. Paige finds herself creeping home one morning after an abandoned night of sex with a stranger. On the rebound from her abruptly ended former relationship with Rob, Paige has tried to have fun. However, a funny thing happens on her way home: Rob has called to say he is showing up at her place to discuss their relationship. The walk of shame beings, but at least she’s wearing the perfect shoes for the occasion. This film never misses a beat along the short comic race home.
What's So Funny USA Sandra Longo Sandra Longo Sandra Longo This film is a really interesting profile of a woman who loses 160 pounds--and looks it. The film asks us to balance our own scales of positives and negatives. Are the costs of such loss too high? You decide.
Winner Takes All UK Helen Grace Helen Grace, JC Mac, Chico Shimani Helen Grace, JC Mac Did you hear that one about the stranger who takes up a bet to win a pot of gold and a woman’s heart? Well, we bet you’ve never seen the story played out quite this way. We can’t tell you about the shocking consequences of this little fable for adult audiences, but lock up your children--and your pets.
Pleasant St. Canada Gerry Rogers Gerry Rogers Gerry Rogers The title of this doc points to both a fact and an irony. When a string of people on her street were diagnosed with cancer, director Gerry, whose personal experience with the disease is uniquely captured in her documentary My Left Breast, decided to make a film about their lives. Pleasant St. is a poignant chronicle of three people and the families who support their struggle to deal with cancer. When ordinary people have to deal with extraordinary difficulty, a much fuller spectrum of our own humanity is revealed to us. Disease is a fact of life’ how we cope with it, rise to it and ultimately accept it depends on our unique responses. With wit, intelligence, and ultimately a profoundly human grace, this film shows us the sides of experience we may not be used to confronting.
Dying to Give Birth: Safe Motherhood for African Women Canada/Ghana Marie Wadden Marie Wadden Marie Wadden, Glen Neary This film is nothing less than a tribute to the remarkable nurse Kay Matthews and the ambitious program she founded. Such is an African-based program that allows for the training of scores of midwives and birth attendants. Kay just couldn’t bear the fact of so much suffering because of neglect of simple procedures, and so she transferred her knowledge as head nurse in the Grace Hospital in St. John's to Ghana. CBC producer Marie Wadden was able to fashion impressive evidence of such work. This film is a humbling look at one among us who has done so much.
Elling Lien