We Refuse to Be Cold
We Refuse to Be Cold

Flying the friendly skies just got a little more pleasant with the announcement of enRoute magazine’s sixth annual short film festival. Between August and December, passengers on Air Canada are able to see all the selected short films, with the final four – Alexander Carson’s We Refuse to Be Cold, Fernand-Philippe Morin-Vargas’s Noeud papillon, Danielle Sahota’s We Blinded the Sun, and Daniel Friesen’s Let’s Make Lemonade – competing for awards, with the winners to be announced November 7 at a ceremony to be held in Toronto.

The films can be viewed and voted upon online (for the inaugural People’s Choice Award) at enRoutefilm.com. Winners in other categories were determined by a celebrity panel of judges that includes actors Jay Baruchel (How to Train Your Dragon), Callum Keith Rennie (Hard Core Logo), and Alison Pill (The Newsroom), as well as directors Jacob Tierney (The Trotsky) and Mary Harron (American Psycho), among others.

We Refuse to Be Cold

Given that writer-director Alexander Carson is nearly 30, I was a bit surprised by the naive attitude towards love he — or at least his narrator – takes in We Refuse to Be Cold. Carson himself stars as that narrator, an unnamed young Montrealer newly in love with Les (Amanda Weightman). Together they make a “winter promise: to refuse to be cold.” Argh. The premise is one of those fanciful ones young couples make that seems romantic on the surface, and is meant to join them together in their own unique way, even while it displays their own immaturity towards long-term love. Carson’s narration is unbearably precious and, while undoubtedly heartfelt, groan-inducing in its tweeness. More laudable is the film’s editing, with Carson weaving together a number of narrative strands (a play the couple attends, visits with family, intimate moments) and visual styles (composed shots juxtaposed with handheld work) to tell his story.

Noeud papillon (bow tie)

Quebec filmmaker Fernand-Philippe Morin-Vargas has written and directed what could be the most crowd-pleasing short of the festival, especially for those of us who appreciate straightforward narrative. Noeud papillon (French for “bow tie”) stars young Julien de Carufel as Jacob, a portly 10-year-old ginger who is not looking forward to school today. Why? Because it’s picture day, and Jacob’s mother has made it a tradition to clothe her beloved boy in some of the ugliest suits known to mankind, over her son’s vocal protests. Complicating matters this year is the obvious flirtation going on between the photographer and Jacob’s teacher, upon whom he has a crush. Morin-Vargas keeps it light-hearted by telling Jacob’s story from his point of view, making obvious the disdain the boy feels for the admittedly tedious process of getting your picture taken every year.

We Blinded the Sun

Your ability to sit through 21-year-old Ryerson University student Danielle Sahota’s 14-minute thesis film We Blinded the Sun without groaning or snorting will depend a lot on your tolerance for artful wankery. There is a narrative, although picking it out of Sahota’s (bad) poetic narrative and bemusing visuals is a challenge. Reluctant young pianist Marcel (Thomas Goldhar) is being forced to learn the instrument by his father (Vladimir Cubrt) in the wake of his cellist mother’s (Shauna Rolston) departure. Marcel wants the cello back and fantasizes about it, comparing it to a lover, even though he’s only a child. Sahota’s imagery provoked a lot of ‘I don’t get it,’ reaction, despite multiple viewings. And can someone explain the fat hipster with wings jumping up and down on the bed? On the positive side, We Blinded the Sun boasts a lovely score by pianist Heather Schmidt and real-life cellist Rolston.

Let’s Make Lemonade

Self-proclaimed Balkan-klezmer-gypsy-party-punk super-band the Lemon Bucket Orchestra is the subject of Let’s Make Lemonade. Perhaps best known for playing an impromptu show earlier this year onboard a delayed Air Canada flight from Toronto to Bucharest as it waited on the tarmac, the fourteen-piece band is captured by 21-year-old director Justin Friesen busking through the streets of Toronto (and getting busted for doing so without a permit), performing at house parties and in subway tunnels, and riling up crowds at popular T.O. world music venue Lula Lounge. Frontman Mark Marczyk and his colleagues explain the energy behind the band and the sense of community their shows create, but Friesen’s camera does an even more eloquent job, capturing the camaraderie amongst the young band members and the joy they find in their music.