Canadian filmmakers send works to Sundance

Dramatic shorts by Toronto director Jamie Travis and Montreal's Paul Raphael and Félix Lajeunesse have earned screening spots at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.
Tungijuq, by Montreal filmmakers Paul Raphael and Felix Lajeunesse, is a meditation on the Inuit seal hunt starring Tanya Tagaq. ((Toronto International Film Festival))
Dramatic shorts by Toronto director Jamie Travis and Montreal's Paul Raphael and Félix Lajeunesse have earned screening spots at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

Sundance Festival organizers announced the shorts film program Monday, with 70 films by U.S. and international directors selected from among more than 6,000 entries.

Six Canadian films, including three from National Film Board filmmakers, are included in the shorts program.

Four of the nine films in the animated program are from Canada:

  • The Art of Drowning, directed by Diego Maclean, an Argentine-born filmmaker based in Vancouver. The film is based on a poem by Billy Collins about the possibilities that await us at the end of the line.
  • Rains, a Canada/France co-production by  David Coquard-Dassault, a wordless film that shows what happens when a sudden rainstorm is unleashed on a city.
  • Runaway, by Cordell Barker, the filmmaker behind Oscar-nominated The Cat Came Back, about a runaway train filled with oblivious passengers.
  • Vive la Rose, by Bruce Alcock, a film celebrating the woman he loves based on a traditional Newfoundland song performed by Émile Benoit.

Barker's Runaway has already won a special jury award at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

Bruce Alcock is the filmmaker behind the animated short Vive la Rose. (NFB)
Both Raphael's Tungijuq and Travis's The Armoire have been accepted for the dramatic shorts program, which has led to the discovery of filmmakers such as Wes Anderson, Todd Haynes and Jason Reitman.

Tungijuq is a debut short by Lajeunesse and Raphael, who have previously collaborated on music videos and advertisements. With music by Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq and a performance by Zacharias Kunuk, it is a meditation on the place of the seal hunt in Inuit life.

Produced for indigenous online TV channel Isuma TV, the film earlier won best short drama at the ImagineNative Film Festival.

Vancouver-born Travis explores the friendship between 11-year-olds Tony and Aaron that leads to Tony's disappearance during a game of hide and seek. A key feature for the 30-year-old director is repression of memory, with Aaron unable to remember what happened.

Sundance is forgoing the conventions of one film opening-night film and instead launching a short film program on the first Thursday, Jan. 21, that includes a film by Spike Jonze, director of Where the Wild Things Are.

The opening night shorts program:

  • I'm Here, by Spike Jonze, a dramatic short.
  • The Fence, directed by Rory Kennedy, a documentary short about the building of a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Logorama, directed by François Alaux, Hervé de Crécy and Ludovic Houplain, a French animated short involving car chases and wild animal stampedes.
  • Seeds of the Fall, directed by Patrik Eklund, a Swedish dramatic short about a middle-aged couple in a troubled relationship.

The Sundance Film Festival, founded by Robert Redford, is the U.S.'s most important festival of independent film. It runs Jan. 21 to 31 in Park City, Utah.

Corrections

  • Filmmakers Paul Raphael and Félix Lajeunesse are from Montreal, not from Nunavut as an earlier version of the story stated.
    Dec 15, 2009 12:00 AM ET