The ninth annual Vancouver Island Short Film Festival was a resounding success with a record setting 560 people in attendance over the two nights (February 7 and 8). When MC Matt Carter took the stage and asked new festival-goers to raise their hands, roughly ¼ of the attendees revealed themselves to be brand new to the event, eliciting a round of applause from festival volunteers, coordinators, repeat visitors, and especially Festival Director Johnny Blakeborough and Show Coordinator Matthew Lettington.
The 2014 festival featured fifteen films all of excellent quality, reflecting significant time and effort on the part of all who were involved. The films, sent in from all over the world, ranged from a crew of two all the way up to a full-blown effort with technical specialists and makeup artists. Clearly, the film selection committee (Ron Bonham, Terrance Fitzgerald) and the award judges (Paul Arnell, Jacqui Kaese, Frederic Robinson) made some difficult decisions between the funny, the thought-provoking, and the artfully designed.
The 15 official selections were:
Backward Fall – Andrew Pollins—Vancouver, BC
Bome Gnomeski – Curtis L. Wiebe & Marlon Wiebe—Winnipeg, MB
The Evening Cigarette – Matthieu Van Eeckhout—Paris, France
Expect Something and Nothing at Once – Michelle Elrick—Winnipeg, MB
The First Time We – John Gardiner—Nanaimo, BC
Floodplain – Jeremy Lutter—Victoria, BC
Greyscale – Michael Chen & Aaron Colyn—Nanaimo, BC
KRUPA – Raymond Knight—Nanaimo, BC
M22 – David Stevens—Breda, The Netherlands
The Magic Ferret – Alison Parker—Vancouver, BC
NASA Conspiracy – Graham Stark—Victoria, BC
Rain – Shimon Machida—Vancouver, BC
Seasick – Eva Cvijanovic—Winnipeg, MB
Spring! – Graham Stark—Victoria, BC
White Rhythms, Short Breath – Olga Zikrata—Winnipeg, MB
The Goldie award is named after Festival Director Johnny Blakeborough’s mentor and last year’s first-ever VISFF Film Paragon winner, Shirley Goldberg. The statue is designed by award-winning ceramic artist Brendan Tang (www.brendantag.com). Eight awards were handed out on Saturday night following the second screening, including Most Promising New Performer, awarded to local actor Rich Travale for The First Time We, a poignant examination of the moments before the start of a new relationship. Travale received a certificate for acting lessons from Jacqui Kaese of Spotlight Academy. The following films/actors received Goldie awards:
Best Performance: John R. Taylor for “Backward Fall” (Nominees: Johannah Newmarch for “Backward Fall” & Graham Stark for “Spring!”)
Best Technical: Shimon Machida for “Rain” (Nominees: “Seasick” & Backward Fall”)
Best Writing: Andrew Pollins for “Backward Fall” (Nominees: “Spring!” & “Expect Something and Nothing at Once”)
Best Student Film: Andrew Pollins for “Backward Fall” (Nominee: “Rain”)
Best Original Music: Curtis L. Wiebe “Bome Gnomeski” (Nominees: “KRUPA” & “Backward Fall”)
People’s Choice: Andrew Pollins for “Backward Fall”
Best Film: Andrew Pollins for “Backward Fall” (Nominees “Seasick” & “The Magic Ferret”)
The tenth annual VISFF next year will bring changes, as promised by Blakeborough, who is preparing to step down as Festival Director and take on a more behind-the-scenes role following the 2015 festival. Also new next year will be the elimination of entry fees for local filmmakers. Hoping to remove barriers for local filmmakers, Blakeborough and Lettington have decided to waive the entry fee for local residents. Next year will also see the addition of online film submission as an alternative to mail submission. Though it’s hard to imagine a more successful year than 2014, the tenth year promises to be even bigger, and plans are already underway to make it the best yet.
In addition to the support of various sponsors such as Spotlight Academy, Firehouse Grill, Nanaimo North Town Centre, and Elephant Room Creative, the VISFF owes the past nine years of success to the Nanaimo Arts Council, the City of Nanaimo, Arts BC, and the Province of British Columbia.
Volunteers are always needed to fill a variety of roles. If you’d like to volunteer or have an idea for the festival, visit www.visff.com or email Blakeborough firstname.lastname@example.org.