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Prends ça court! turns 12, and we've got 5 reasons why you should celebrate

Quebec’s short film community is incredibly dynamic. (My colleague Marine Anaïs profiled some of its players this past spring.) Just a quick glance at the Jutra winners for Best Short Film over the past decade is enough to convince you that shorts are a fertile launching pad for many of the most interesting emerging voices around – Jean-Marc Vallée (1999), Louise Archambault (2000), Simon Lavoie (2006), Guy Édoin (2007) and Simon Galiero (2008) are among those who've expanded the scope of their cinematic vision since first dabbling in shorts.

Well, surprise, surprise! Prends ça court, the short film distributor run by court métrage specialist Danny Lennon, is celebrating its 12th anniversary tonight at the Monument-National with a special screening of homegrown shorts that have gotten their fair share of praise over the past few months. Here’s a look at five we unequivocally recommend.


Martin Dubreuil and Éloïse Bisson, Ce n'est rien

Ce n’est rien, by Nicolas Roy
If you haven’t yet seen Nicolas Roy’s Cannes-selected Ce n’est rien, you’re in luck. An open-ended slice of life about an autumn day like any other that suddenly brings harrowing news. A father (Breastfeeders’ Martin Dubreuil) struggles in facing the reality that his little girl (Éloïse Bisson) has been sexually abused. Even more disheartening, the culprit isn't a stranger… Filmmaker Nicolas Roy, a past Jutra nominee whose shorts deal with family, the desolate countryside and death, doesn’t stray from those thematic preoccupations all that much here. And that's a-okay. Ce n'est rien quite powerfully raises the question of how we're supposed to protect childhood innocence. 


Josquin Beauchemin, La machine à laver

La machine à laver, by Danny Lynch
Audience choice award, OFF-COURTS Trouville 2011
Montreal filmmaker Danny Lynch also tackles death in The Washing Machine, but in this case, it’s about a grieving seven-year-old (Josquin Beauchemin) who, after attending his mother’s funeral, doesn’t know what to do with his grief. That is, until his father (Réal Bossé) lets his son in on a secret: the washing machine in the basement also has a special feature that facilitates time travel. And so begins a close-knit bond between late mother and home appliance. A stirring tale of childhood wonder that avoids taking itself too seriously.


Léa Traversy and Guillaume Cyr, Score

Score, by Lawrence Côté-Collins
Another apt segue, Côté-Collins’ short also features both washers and dryers, but in this story, they’re merely the backdrop for a conversation that never seems to go out of style: how many sexual partners have you had? David (Guillaume Cyr) wants his girlfriend Audrey (Léa Traversy) to answer the thorny question. Score is a hilarious take on an everlasting relationship dilemma: is honesty always the best policy? In Audrey’s family (Gaston Lepage and Micheline Lanctôt play the very upfront mom and dad), airing your dirty laundry seems to be the modus operandi. Their prevailing philosophy is best expressed by the father: “The problem, when you have a daughter, is that you have to manage all cocks in the neighbourhood.”


Nostradamos, by Maxence Bradley, Alexandre Lampron and Elisabeth Olga Tremblay
Best short, Festival Documenteur 2011
This directing threesome conceived the short as part of a 72-hour contest at this year’s Festival du Documenteur (mockumentary) de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Remember the U.S. government’s Duck and Cover instructional video from the ‘50s, going over how kids should assume the fetal position in the event of a nuclear attack? Pretty hilarious stuff. But it would seem that the good people of Amos have taken the antiquated advice a little too literally, as they prepare for a supposedly imminent threat. If you fear Melancholia will dampen your mood, opt for this farcical end-of-the-world fare instead.


Jessica Paré and Jacob Tierney, Sorry, Rabbi

Sorry, Rabbi, by Mark Slutsky
Former Montreal Mirror film editor Mark Slutsky, who penned the hilarious Peepers, about a bunch of bored Mile-Enders scouring rooftops in search of the “perfect peep”, delivers another funny Mile-End-set story. This one is about Josh (Jacob Tierney), whose argument over a gift for girlfriend Marie-Hélène (Mad Men’s Jessica Paré) escalates to unexpected heights when he’s confronted by a group of Hasidic men, who claim he attacked one of them. Josh is then left to defend his inherent “Jewishness” to the neighbourhood rabbi at an improvised council. Slutsky’s sharp comic timing keeps the story moving along swiftly.   


PRENDS ÇA COURT celebrates its 12th anniversary
Tuesday, November 15 (
Doors at 7 p.m., screening at 8 p.m.)
Monument-National | 1182 Saint-Laurent Blvd. | courtmetrage.ca