This year, one-third of the films in the Vancouver Island Short Film Festival were from the Island, and they picked up two-thirds of the awards.
The 16th annual VISFF took place online this past weekend, culminating with an award ceremony on Saturday night. Ohrwurm (Earwig) by Connor and Vaughan Gaston of Victoria was the big winner, earning awards for Best Film and Best Screenplay and actor Michaela Caspar won for Best Performance.
“Vancouver Island is my home so it’s just such an honour to have done so well at this festival, it feels really special,” said co-director and writer Vaughan Gaston in his acceptance speech.
VISFF director Hilary Eastmure called it a “remarkable” and “stunning” film.
“Right at the beginning of the film a live earwig actually crawls out of the woman’s ear,” Eastmure said. “And we learned during the filmmaker Q-and-A that there was no CGI … it was a real earwig and that just blew us away. And she ended up winning Best Performance and [it was] absolutely well-earned.”
Before the Beauty is Gone, by 17-year-old documentary filmmaker Mackai Sharp from Comox, was the other Island winner, picking up the People’s Choice Award. Sharp called with win “reaffirming.”
“The VISFF was the first film festival I ever went to as a kid and it was one of the first events that made me consider the possibility that filmmaking was actually for me,” Sharp said. “I remember leaving the theatre a few years ago and feeling so engaged and inspired by the works that had been selected, so it is an honour to win not only because I’m an Island local, but because this was the beginning of my attempt at a career in film.”
The other winners were Freebird by Michael Joseph McDonald and Joe Bluhm from Quebec and Son of the Wind by Chinese filmmaker Evan Tsui for Best Music and Best Cinematography, respectively.
Five of the 14 short films were by Island filmmakers and Eastmure said it was exciting to see them do well this year. Overall she said the VISFF team was “extremely thrilled” with how the online festival turned out.
“We did get feedback from people that have never been able to attend in past years and this year they were able to tune in, and it just really adds so much value to have the international filmmakers participating,” Eastmure said. “So we will definitely be looking for ways to include an online element in future festivals.”
The selected short films are still available for viewing online until July 27 at 11:59 p.m. Tickets available by donation here.