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SJIWFF packs 49 films into 5 days

A still from the short film “Performing Hearts.”
A still from the short film “Performing Hearts.” - Contributed

The St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival (SJIWFF) wrapped up on Sunday, after five days of film screenings, workshops, forums and discussion panels.

Boasting 49 films in its 29th year, the SJIWFF offered a vast selection of diverse material – 10 feature-length films, 39 shorts – showcasing homegrown, Canadian and international talent.

Presented in bullet form to maximize a tight word count, enjoy one-sentence recap reviews of 21 short films:

Evening shorts, Thursday, Oct. 18:
• “On the Ridge Line,” dir. Chantale Boulianne, Canada:

An animated short, this film demonstrates the ability to tell complex stories through simple, constantly evolving line drawings.

• “Askin' For It,” dir. Kerry Gamberg, Canada (N.L.):
This sweet and spicy commentary on feminism, friendship, rape culture and toxic masculinity follows three friends with a bone to pick with a popular high school athlete.

• “Spirits of the Temple,” NIFCO Introduction to Documentary Film Making Class, Summer 2017, Canada (N.L.):

Giving viewers insight into the Masonic Temple, aspiring filmmakers succeed in telling an interesting and informative history and folklore about a mysterious local building.

• “Natural Light: Vivi’s Story,” dir. Ivy Yukiko Ishihara Oldford, Canada:

Oldford shows that the best way to explore the art of food photography is to get to know the photographer, and their relation to food, and their art.

• “Counterfeit Kunkoo,” dir. Reema Sengupta, India:

A social commentary on the discrimination single women face in India, our leading lady outwits the system designed to work against her.

• “Freaks of Nurture,” dir. Alexandra Lemay, Canada:

This stop-motion animated short is witty, heartfelt, and self-aware, creating a warm comedic performance that makes one feel simultaneously annoyed and enamoured by our parents.

• “Inquiry Into the Shape of the Earth,” dir. Kay Burns, Canada (N.L.):

Possibly the driest piece of the festival, this short documentary focuses on the infuriating idea that the Earth is flat, roping Labradorians into an experiment to prove, well, exactly what the title says.

• “First to Last,” dir. Nada Cosovic, Canada:

Strikingly sad and beautiful, what could be a romantic comedy turns into a romantic tragedy, making viewers fall in love with characters who have fallen in love with each other.

• “Threads,” dir. Torill Kove, Norway/Canada:
Another animated short, this existential creation explores our human desire to connect with others, the tone of the wordless film set by a soft jazz and sombre piano soundtrack.

Afternoon shorts, Sunday, Oct. 21:

• “Billie,” dir. Maki Yoshikura, U.K.

We follow playful dog Billie, who is adopted into a new home after his elderly owner passes away – “Billie” tugs hard on the heartstrings.

• “Three Thousand,” dir. Asinnajaq, Canada

Using footage from 1920 to the present day, director Asinnajaq provides an insightful glimpse into life in the great north, and the how modern culture influenced ancient traditions.

• “The Apartment,” dir. Justine Gauthier, Canada

Settling into a new apartment after an implied separation, a mother and her two children show that love, family and fun is what makes a house a home.

• “The Give and Take,” dir. Anna Hopkins, Canada
A young girl creates a rift in time when calling a hotline for video game information, creating opportunity for both the hotline operator and herself.

• “Red Dress, No Straps,” dir. Maryam Mohajer, U.K.
Animated in a unique style, this haunting short presents the harsh realities of war through a child’s experience, hitting hard with a twist ending.

• “We’ll Always Have Toynbee,” dir. Sonia B. Boileau, Canada
Two strangers, who hit it off in a bar and hook up in the parking lot see each other in a particularly harsh light the next morning, when they’re on opposite sides of a protest – a festival favourite for me.

• “Drag Rescue,” dir. Andie Bulman, Canada (N.L.)
Local comedians team together to show that low budget doesn’t equate to low quality, in this witty short about drag queens overhauling the look of the library.

• “Sailor on the Hill,” dir. Lacy O’Connell, Canada (N.L.)

VOCM reporter O’Connell shows her ability to dig deep into local news, finding the human angle to tell the important, emotional side of the story.

• “Milk,” dir. Winnifred Jong, Canada

The shortest short at just one minute, “Milk” is a simple story of misinformation and miscommunication, based on a trip to the corner store.

• “How to Get to Know Someone,” dir. FRAMED West, Canada (N.L.)

A wannabe chef causes a dinner date gone wrong, contributing high levels of “cringe” in this short.

• “Performing Hearts,” dir. FRAMED HHM, Canada (N.L.)
The students of Holy Heart of Mary High School detail their involvement in the performing arts certificate program, and how it has shaped their school experience.

• “Brave Little Army,” dir. Michelle D’Alessandro Hatt, Canada

The new kid in school, a punk-rocker in a leather jacket, is an inspiration to a group of schoolgirls, who quickly add this unique individual to their friend group, becoming a dynamic quartet of fearless badasses.

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