Thursday, July 19, 2012

Learning, Love and Laughter, or get your Shorts in our bunch!

An author friend of mine has observed that although we have reached (or exceeded) our limits of material growth, there is no limit to the growth of what he terms the “three L’s” of life-based pursuits: learning, love and laughter. So while we scale back resource extraction and energy use, we can expand the creative arts to grow individually and as a society.
One such avenue is film. Although I appreciate a well-crafted Hollywood blockbuster as much as anyone, I also enjoy good foreign or independent film, like the Barrie Film Festival showcases each October and at the monthly Screen One.
Even I must admit that sometimes a movie loses me within the first hour. But there’s one kind of film where this never happens: a short. A special part of Barrie’s Film Festival has long been the Short Film Program. It’s one presentation I never miss; most years I even have the special privilege of helping judge which films we will screen or award prizes.
Special to Barrie’s Shorts competition is its wide mix. One component is the Open category, drawing films from talented or accomplished filmmakers the world over. The other categories, high school and Simcoe County, traditionally offered a somewhat lower standard of production, but were fun to watch for the glimpses of local landmarks or personalities and, usually, the presence of enthusiastic filmmakers at the screening.
However, over the years of my involvement, I’ve noticed a marked boost in the quality and professionalism demonstrated in these “amateur” categories, such that many are now on a par with our top international entrants. Although the People’s Choice Award has always been open to any submission, in recent years the improvement in local & student filmmaking has raised the chance that the winner won’t be from the Open side.
But whether prize-winning or not, even being selected for our festival is prestigious; fewer than half our entrants make the grade. So if you have a film in the works, or already have one “in the can”, as they say, then submit it to us for our screening on Saturday October 13th. Or if you have a relative, or acquaintance with cinematic skills, pass along this link:, for the entry process and regulations.
The rules are pretty simple: the film can be no longer than 10 minutes (including credits), entrants for Simcoe County must live here now or have within the last 5 years, and high school films must have been made since January 2010 and before your 19th birthday. We must receive the film by September 7th to include it this year.
Send us your film or spread the word, help Barrie to grow in learning, love, and laughter!

Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner under the title "Film shorts leave a lasting impression"
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of the Ontario School of Economic Science and Earthsharing Canada.

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