This year’s Vancouver Island Short Film Festival is taking place online and will include virtual filmmaker talks and award presentation. (Photo submitted)

This year’s Vancouver Island Short Film Festival is taking place online and will include virtual filmmaker talks and award presentation. (Photo submitted)

Lineup announced for Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Short Film Festival

Five films by Island-based directors among the 14 to be screened next month

Vancouver Island filmmakers will be well represented at this year’s Vancouver Island Short Film Festival.

This week the lineup was announced for the 16th annual VISFF, happening online July 23 and 24. Among the 14 films are five by Island filmmakers, four from other parts of the country and five from beyond Canada.

“The lineup looks awesome. I am really impressed with the selections from the committee this year,” VISFF director Hilary Eastmure said. “They did a great job of narrowing down the top films. We had a lot of really strong entries and a lot of great films from Vancouver Island this year.”

The Island selections include three Victoria picks: All-in Madonna by Arnold Lim, Cool Affections by Josh Terry-Brand and Ohrwurm (Earwig) by Connor and Vaughan Gaston. Before the Beauty is Gone by Mackai Sharo of Comox and Barrier by Mill Bay’s Sohee Hong round out the Island films. The other Canadian submissions came in from Burnaby, Toronto, Montreal and Verdun, Que. Among the international films are one each from the United States, Mexico, Iran, China and Japan.

Eastmure said the films include comedies, dramas, animations and documentaries.

“The lineup is really diverse in terms of the genres and the subjects,” she said. “In past years, there’s usually a theme that emerges and this year there isn’t really a clear theme. There’s just a really nice range of different pieces and it’s going to make for a very interesting viewing experience.”

This year’s selection committee is all new. It includes film professionals Jocelyn Russell, Lisa Genaille and Rob Shaw of Saanich, Hope and Vancouver respectively. Shaw’s film Bargain Bin Bed screened at last year’s VISFF. From Nanaimo are photographer Zoey Heath and author and past VISFF board member Greg Brown. They watched the 72 submissions from 10 countries, amounting to an estimated 11 hours of film.

“In past years there’s been some concern that with us accepting international submissions the festival would just become more Hollywood and have features with really big budgets,” Eastmure said. “And what we really witnessed this year was that there’s such high-quality filmmaking that is happening here on Vancouver Island.”

She said this year’s Island submissions were so good that the selection committee didn’t need to resort to the VISFF quota of reserving two spaces, or 10 per cent of the festival’s running time, to Island-made films.

“This year it was just a thing that happened naturally and was really exciting to see,” Eastmure said. “And it just speaks to the amount of talent we have here on the Island, which is why we really want to keep the festival going because every year the films just get better and better.”

WHAT’S ON … The 16th annual Vancouver Island Short Film Festival takes place on July 23 and 24 starting at 7 p.m. nightly. Tickets are pay-what-you-can, available soon at visff.com.

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