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Short Days, Short Films: 5 Films in 7 Minutes!

Films

Pop quiz: what’s made up of a short burst of light, colour, activity, and fun, but ends too soon and leaves you wanting more? Sorry, but that was a trick question. There are actually two answers: short films and short days.

Up here at 45.5000° N, 73.5667° W (a.k.a. Montreal, Canada), the sun starts to dip into the horizon around 5:00 pm at this time of year, and rises around 7:15 am every morning. With those 9 hours and 45 minutes full of teeth-brushing, dressing, transit-riding, chatting, typing, eating, drinking, and being blinded by the sharp sun bouncing off the snow outside our windows, what else can we do to fill those dark hours before and after? We could stay inside and watch a few films, of course!

Short days, short films

We’ve compiled a fun little selection of some of our shortest films to honour these very, very short days that barely give us time to glimpse the sun. Many of these are great for kids, too, so snuggle up with your best wool blanket and hit play. Start off with the irrepressibly charming bear in Meltdown: the poor guy’s out of a job since the Arctic melted! He’s gotta trudge into the city with a briefcase and a CV to look for a job. But will he have any luck? Find out:

Fun-filled children’s flick or contemporary surveillance state allegory? You decide.

Another one for the kids incidentally blends with some pertinent adult interests too: in Wiggles and Giggles, a group of dancing party-goers is accosted by a giant head. As the Beastie Boys so wisely warned, these dancers must fight for their right to party. Kids will no doubt love the lively music, bright colours, and enthusiastic dancing at the heart of the film, but there’s something darker going on here that adults might catch on to…

A disembodied head posturing as a Big Brother-esque all-seeing eye prevents ordinary citizens from enjoying life and sociability in their private party-space. Could we read an allegory here for the contemporary surveillance state and the invasion of privacy? Is the film’s succinct yet deeply disturbing conclusion a veiled call-to-action that insists the infiltration of oppressive state institutions is the only successful disruption of a force so pervasive that it cannot be ignored, fought, or eliminated? Then again, upon re-viewing, the giant head’s visage bears strange resemblance to the infamous masks worn by members of the “Anonymous” internet vigilante group (a visage also made famous in V for Vendetta, the 1982-1989 graphic narrative by Alan Moore and 2005 film of the same name directed by James McTeigue). Is our giant head playing both sides? Does the allegory extend to both fighter and fought? How can we tell friend from foe?

At a total running time of one minute and 29 seconds, you certainly have the time to watch the film and see for yourself. I welcome alternative readings of the film, equally as absurd as or more than my own, in the comments below this post.

The Shortest Day: a celebration of short films and short days

The Shortest Day is a growing global film celebration that takes place on Dec. 21st (also known as the shortest day of the year). Free screenings of a selection of short films are available all across the country, in cities big and small (look for your location here), and a couple of NFB flicks fill out the bill. Created by the Centre national du cinéma et de l’image (CNC) in France in 2011, the event has now spread to some 20 other countries, including ours, with support from the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC), Telefilm Canada, and us folks here at the NFB. There’s probably a screening scheduled in your area, so have a look!

But if you just can’t bring yourself to leave the house on a black-as-night -20 degree winter evening, feel free to stay home and enjoy a few more of our offerings:

A few more shorts for a few more days

For urban enthusiasts and travelers, take a few seconds to revel in the beats and harmonies of the metropolis in Orange. This is what it would feel like if the city was truly alive and breathing. And if you really consider yourself a traveler, you may want to take the advice given in Catapult Canada. Forget planes, trains, and cars! Why not take a catapult over to your next vacation destination? It may not be accurate, but it sure is fast (and fun). And finally, for those hopeless anglophones that just desperately want to feel like a part of our beautiful bilingual nation, take a look at Instant French. No French? No problem! With this parody of a handy As-Seen-On-TV device, you no longer have to say “Je suis désolé, mais je ne parle pas français.”