At the City Market last weekend, dozens of people gathered around the Edmonton International Film Festival tent, readying themselves for the 24/One Challenge: make a family-friendly short film in just twenty-four hours!
For the chance to win a $500 cash prize, 45 teams of three entered the competition, with 38 managing to hand in their submission by the deadline. In addition to a selecting one of three genres (comedy, film noir or mockumentary), teams had to include a prop in their film (they were given $5 to purchase something from the farmers’ market), and also incorporate the line “They’re reel…and fabulous” into their script. A jury panel then chose the top ten to be screened on the last day of the festival. The winner of the grand prize, however, was to be chosen by the audience.
I was was planning on making it to at least one screening at EIFF, and after the excitement at the market, figured it would be best to satisfy my curiosity and find out how the teams did. Mack had been lucky enough to get free tickets from EIFF this year, so though he couldn’t come with me, I was able to take advantage of a complimentary pass.
Due to a fire alarm and subsequent evacuation, the screening had been pushed back a half hour. It wasn’t a long wait, and besides, it meant the excitement for the filmmakers in the audience (who wouldn’t know if their film made it into the top ten until show time) had even more time to grow.
The line at Empire Theatre
I really didn’t expect to laugh as much as I did. Several of the films were hilariously absurd (including personified vegetables, an alien encounter, and the sport of “freestyle walking”), and I couldn’t help but appreciate the creativity on display. Though some were cleaner than others, in terms of camera work or sound recording, for example, it was amazing to me that all of the films had been written, shot, and edited all in twenty-four hours.
My two favourite films (and the two that I ended up voting for with my audience ballot) were by Team Show & Tell and Team SSC. The former produced Mittens, about a man entranced with a girl who left a mitten behind at his bus stop, to the point of developing stalker tendencies, while the latter, Reunion, prominently featured its prop (a jar of grape jam from Strathcona County Kitchens) in its telling of a band shattered by a member’s “preserve addiction”.
Though I didn’t connect with Walk the Line, a mockumentary about the sport of freestyle walking, it was clearly very well done. More than anything, I was actually able to identify the Edmonton locations they used (something I was hoping for more of) – Beaver Hills Park and the Legislature grounds.
Before they announced the winner of the $500 people’s choice prize, host Rick Lee handed out prizes in jury-determined categories. Walk the Line took home a majority of the awards, including best director, editing and cinematography, so it wasn’t a surprise when they were also called up for the people’s choice award.
I was really glad to have caught 24/One fever – it’s something I will definitely look for at next year’s festival!