The Island Media Arts Festival Opening Night Screening By Cindy Lapeña & Top18 Events This Weekend

Eleven short films and a bellyache from laughter. Well, half the time, at least. The screening opened and closed with music videos, certainly both unique and the second one, in particular, with a distinctly PEI flavour and spirits (pun intended)! 

There was such a wide range of subjects covered by each film it’s hard to put them together with any sort of blanket comments, but we’ll try to keep this short and sweet, just like the films themselves.

Warning: Spoiler Alert!!!

 Sweethearts by Jenna MacMillan, PEI, was a cute take on romance. Woman works in a store, has bum boyfriend who cooks for her (if only more men would do this!), is wooed by a young Romeo who is clearly new at the courtship game and who’s a bit awkward as well. She succumbs to the temptation to see if a new relationship will work out but finds that her Romeo is a no-way-o and she ends up trudging back home in high heels in the snow to her boyfriend who, incidentally, has also gone to the trouble of trying to bring her supper when she uses working late as a pretext for her failed date. How sweet is that. The approach tries to be original, the acting decent, the script has its funny and witty moments, but the plot is just old.
Along the exact same theme of courtship and romance is The Dance by Pardis Parker, NS. Without any dialogue, this short film uses an extremely expressive actor and great visual imagery. Smitten young man can’t find a way to invite the girl of his dreams to a dance just a week away and each day passes with him trying out a different strategy to get the attention of his Jenny, all, of course, attempts to show how he can dress up in matching outfits because that’s what she likes. On the last day, which is the day of the dance, he gives up and discards his colorful matching outfits in favor of a tee shirt with a single puzzle piece in blue, without noticing that Jenny is also wearing a tee shirt with a matching puzzle piece in red. A match is made, their dance takes place, and he never notices that she has also been waiting for this night, which she has likewise marked on her calendar. This was really cute, acting was really good, the music soundtrack was just perfect…and did I mention the colours and visual imagery?
Meters by Darcy Fitzpatrick, NL, showed how a recently widowed man has a hard time coping with his wife’s death, but eventually finds a way to amuse himself and do something productive—while driving the meter man batty—everyone knows how we all hate that meter man! He begins by feeding expired meters with quarters, then feeding all the expired meters with quarters and advertising free parking with bright yellow smiley face balloons and gay bunting around the parking meters. When threatened by the meter man with serious consequences, he takes it one step further and steals the meters! He is expecting the next move—arrest and an overnight stay in the hotel-behind-bars, but the exertion of stealing those meters has its toll on him and just when he is to be released we find him peacefully resting on a jailhouse bunk. Excellent acting, great humour, original story line, nice cinematography.
How does Rhonda face death in Rhonda’s Party? Ashley McKenzie, NS, has senior home resident Rhonda making final preparations for Margaret’s 100th birthday, but the celebrant dies in the night and someone has to break the news to Rhonda. Meanwhile, the residents are waiting in the community room, the banner is up, the samba band arrives and starts playing to everyone’s delight and the cake is crowding the reception desk. It’s left to a young nurse to break the bad news to Rhonda who, at first, is in denial, but when she sees Margaret’s room  being packed up in boxes, she realizes it’s true. In the end, she takes one balloon to Margaret’s room. I’d like to think the party went on. Margaret would have liked being sent off with a party. I know I would.
Boxface by Joel Thompson, NB, was a painful foray into the very touchy subject of mental health and depression in children and adults alike. The box over the head of the main character was symbolic as well as a very literal depiction of how mental illnesses are generally ignored, and if not, how the people themselves are ignored. What is more sad is that there are really a lot of people out there who have boxes, partial boxes, or some bits and pieces of things to cover their faces or hearts or other vulnerable parts and nobody really pays attention to them. Thompson uses a lot of mixed metaphors and very loud symbolisms to convey his message.
Angora Napkin by Troy Little & Nick Cross, PEI, is a cartoon—animation for grown-ups, if you will, with a grown-up version of The POWERpuff Girls—Beatrice, Molly and Mallory—who still have the bubble gum voices, play a mean band—but are definitely rated PG-14 because of vulgar language, partial nudity, scenes of violence–some of it senseless, insensitivity and sex. The cartoon spoofs and ridicules everything it can, from cult classic Night of the Living Dead to sea monkeys and features vacuous anti-heroines who are either eternally bubbly (Beatrice and Molly) or morbidly morose (Mallory). This garnered so many laughs it deserves mention.
By Cindy Lapeña

By Cindy Lapeña

On the other end of the anime spectrum is the stop-motion animation The Nightly News by the Multimedia Class of Col. Grey Senior High, PEI. They must have had a lot of fun doing this, but the film was spotty and editing was very rough. But it was funny. Great start!

Finally, the centrepiece of the evening and, I think the two best films of the night: The Clay Village of Transylvania by Mark Hemmings was made with sensitivity for the people of the village that brought out the best of the village without making it seem put on. Really well-made documentary! Like Father by Jesse Harley, NS, was easily my favourite. The narrated poem after the likes of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (the rhyme scheme and the opening line brought this poem to mind) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (with the deep narrator’s voice), the special storm and shadow effects, the sound effects and lighting, and the truly original story line with that really unexpected outcome. Reminds me of an updated version of Little Red Riding Hood that I once wrote for a Forensics guild many years ago.
If all the films are like this throughout the week, then there is a lot to look forward to—both for the week and for the future of the Atlantic independent film industry!

Top 18 Events This Weekend


Transforming a Street – Richmond St. We need artists to create temporary public art. We have honorariums to cover material costs. We need volunteers of all ages to help with the transformation. We need musicians to bring some fun to the street. For more info email Christina MacLeod at or David Sims at

The Dunk – Meaghan Blanchard, with Nadine Pineau. Meaghan Blanchard, the Sweetheart of St Patricks Road, returns to The Dunk as a young but seasoned pro. Her 2011 was highlighted by an ECMA award for Country Album of The Year (for Chasin’ Lonely Again) and a brush with Royalty. This year she ‘knocked it out of the park’ with her performance at the Gene MacLellan tribute concert, and is preparing to record her 3rd album. She’ll be showcasing a number of new songs at this concert!
Nadine Pineau will open. A 15 year-old rising star from North Rustico, Nadine will be making her 2nd appearance at The Dunk to perform a few of her own songs and a few covers. This will be a special treat!

Haviland Club 07:30pm Ashley Condon
Harmony House 08:00pm Carleton Stone & Emma-Lee
Confederation Centre: Homburg Theatre 08:00pm Charlottetown Rural Production: “Annie”  Also plays on Saturday!

Opening @ Brackley Drive-In Dark Shadows (stars Johnny Depp & The Lucky One (
Opening @ Studio 8 Dark Shadows
Opening @ City Cinema La peur de l’eau (Fear of Water) 

Rated 14 Accompaniment Pierre-Francois Legendre, Normand D’Amour, Brigitte Pogonat In French with English subtitles

“A mystery thriller starring an unlikely hero. Sergeant André Surprenant of the Surete du Quebec is divorced, lives with a daughter who does not respect him, swallows pills to deal with panic attacks, and has a strong fear of water. Unfortunately, he lives in the Magdalen island town of Cap-aux-Meules…  
There are true moments of tension, such as during a search for clues on a docked ship in the middle of the night. Best of all, when the killer’s identity is revealed, it does make perfect sense.” – Simon Arseneau, Montreal Film Examiner

Saturday Café & Inn 08:00pm Dennis Ellsworth CD Release—”Dusk Dreams”  On May 12, Dennis Ellsworth will release “Dusk Dreams”, his highly anticipated new album on Busted Flat Records at the Trailside Cafe & Inn. The album was recorded in Athens, GA with acclaimed producer, David Barbe (Drive-By Truckers, Cracker, Sugar). Even though, the real street date is May 15, the album will be on sale, so if you’d like to get your hands on an early copy, you best book your seat. There is limited seating and tickets are now on sale at:
Hunter’s Ale House Andy Brown
Maybe it’s the curly locks. Or those blue-green eyes. Maybe even that boyish charm. Or perhaps it’s the emotionally raw vocals, stellar guitar skills, and riveting performances that get us every time.
Andy Brown has emerged a must-see (and hear) performer on the Canadian music scene. Touted as a performer that ‘gets into your head and heart’, the Galaxie Rising Star winner has a contemporary folk-rock style all his own, taking you on a lyrical journey that transcends a realm torn between love, happiness, and sorrow.

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