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shortCUTS a film festival that offers great films and no hassles


Sandstorm, above, is a coming-of-age film about a young woman who submerges herself into her phone during her first romantic relationship. Other films include, below, from left: The White Whale, The Path of Grey Owl, 75 Pianos and Pretty Dangerous.

By Karen Bliss 

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) might have just ended, but here in York region, we have our own film festival, albeit without the red carpet fanfare, screaming fans, pricey tickets and parking hassles. 

The Vaughan Film Festival (VFF) — at Assembly Park — has launched its debut shortCUTS: Cinema Under The Stars, a more casual chill affair, taking place Sept. 23-24, and Sept 30-Oct. 1.  The evening-only programming includes a marketplace, live music, and films screening outdoors. There will be Muskoka chairs available on a first-come, first-serve basis, plus food trucks and a beer tent. 

There will be monetary donations accepted on site to benefit VFF’s education initiatives, which includes two student initiatives, one for filmmakers from Ontario high school students and the other a scholarship for grade 12 students (submissions open Oct. 1). 

The other beneficiary is Little Pear Garden, a Chinese dance company. And now the films. So so many in every genre from sci-fi to drama to animation and comedy.  

There’s “Arrows” from Greece, “The White Whale” from the Islamic Republic of Iran, Terminal Happiness from Estonia, Distancias from Spain, plus selections from Canada and the U.S.   

On Friday Sept. 30, it’s the Best Of Docs, featuring mostly Canadian programming, such as Pretty Dangerous (about the struggles of a pro wrestler), Henny’s Opus In Minor (about a classical musician dealing with dementia), Temperature Drop (about winter skydiving), Reunions (about a Holocaust survivor), and more.   

The following evening is Best Of Animations, again selected from around the world, including Argentina’s Luminaris, Korea’s Green Light and Denmark’s Serial Taxi. 

The Vaughan International Film Festival is a not-for-profit organization invested in securing the future of the short film industry.  

Now in its 10th edition, the VFF continues its mission to “celebrate, showcase, and support independent filmmakers through public film screenings, scholarship opportunities, as well as engaging and informative panels, webinars and industry events.” 

Between the festival week, promotional events and unique screenings, filmmakers have the opportunity to reach an audience of over 19,000 people. Submission guidelines are on the web site. 

Please click here for more info.

Karen Bliss is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Billboard, Rolling Stone, Pollstar and others. She has interviewed thousands of musicians, including Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder, Eminem, Shania Twain, Metallica and Michael Bublé.

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