Word association time! When you think of the Cannes Film Festival, happening now on the sunny French Riviera, which of the following pops into your head: a) prestigious awards like the coveted Palme d’Or, b) celebrity-studded red-carpet events, or c) insightful online comments like “go suck a dick” and “LMFAO”? Granted, options “a” and “b” have the edge, but thanks to the National Film Board of Canada, YouTube flamers can have their piece of the film-fest pie too.
Now in its fifth year, the NFB Online Short Film Competition, co-sponsored by the Cannes Short Film Corner, lets the unwashed masses (which is to say, all of us not considered esteemed enough to sit on the Cannes jury) select their favourite of the ten finalist films from six countries now up on the NFB’s YouTube channel. The winner—chosen in classic YouTube style, with viewers rating videos on a scale of one to five stars—gets an HD MINI-DV camera and a computer as proof of their populist appeal.
Toronto’s hometown hero in the contest is Rodrigo Gudiño, a University of Toronto graduate and founding editor of horror mag Rue Morgue. Gudiño’s entry is the Genie-nominated The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow (shown above), a multi-layered examination of a group of Northern Ontario occultists who may be about to meet an untimely end.
While Gudiño’s film is probably the most macabre of this year’s top ten, it is hardly alone in its obsession with death. Although the NFB’s press release describes the crop of short-film finalists as “a mainly comedy selection,” the real common thread between the films is one of tragedy: the ten entries without exception deal with the ending of life, or at the very least the cessation of one’s reason for living. Only Newfoundlander Jordan Canning’s Countdown completely avoids even the suggestion of a fatality, settling instead for a good old-fashioned spiral into madness.
Aside from the excellent Canadian entries, our favourites are two shorts from the U.K.: The Black Hole, in which an office worker accidentally photocopies a portal through space, and The Rules of the Game, a spurned groom-to-be’s story of betrayal and revenge.
Voting continues on YouTube until May 20, with the winner to be announced the following day by Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson of the NFB, Tom Perlmutter, at the Short Film Corner in Cannes.