Category Archives: News

Interview: Yves Piat (Nefta Football Club)

SNP Official Selection
Still from Nefta Football Club

Today we begin revealing some highlights from our 2019 lineup, with the full slate to be announced in the weeks to come. First up, Yves Piat, director of the funny and charming Nefta Football Club, whose synopsis reads: “In the south of Tunisia, two football fan brothers bump into a donkey lost in the middle of the desert on the border with Algeria. Strangely, the animal wears headphones over its ears.” We spoke to Yves recently about the film.

Director Yves Piat (NEFTA FOOTBALL CLUB)

James McNally (JM): Your young actors are remarkable. How did you find them?

Yves Piat (YP): Complicity between the boys was one of the features I was searching for. At first, I cast children from wealthy families. They were used to playing in ads, but their acting didn’t fit what I was expecting for this film. I decided to cast children from a poor neighbourhood of Tunis. I met Eltayef [Dhaoui], who plays the elder brother, on the second day of casting. He was very motivated and was always on time, unlike many children from the streets who often sniffed glue before coming to the casting auditions. I saw hundreds of them and finally chose Eltayef because he was very professional. A great complicity started between us. On the set, Eltayef was incredibly dedicated to the film; he had a sense of rhythm and he understood very quickly what I asked him. Every take was good and he was never tired. This child who is now a teenager was really impressive and incredibly kind!

Regarding little Dali [Mohamed Ali Ayari], the other brother, it was a complete different story. I met him a few days before shooting while I was walking in Tunis with Raja Kader, my translator. I wasn’t really satisfied with the young man initially cast for this role. So, as we finally ended up in a dance classroom where there was this boy, Dali, twice as small as the other boys since he was only 7 years old, but incredibly free from inhibitions. I was amazed by his presence and asked his father if he wanted his son to appear in a film shot outside of school, in south Tunisia and during the holidays. He said yes immediately.

We rehearsed the week before the shooting, because both of these children had never made a film or even been inside a cinema. In particular, I had to be sure that once there, Dali, the younger one, was not going to give up. Dali was incredibly pure as an actor but he quickly became tired on set, although he never gave up. Nevertheless, as a 7 year-old child, he was easily distracted by other children, and wanted to leave to play with them. One day, he managed to disappear from the set. Five minutes later, he was coming back on a bike he probably found in the village near the film location. He brings the freshness and the innocence that I was looking for to this character, but it was really difficult to work with such a young actor.

Poster for NEFTA FOOTBALL CLUB

JM: It’s an unusual story. Was it based on anything that happened in real life?

YP: Many things have inspired the movie. First, a personal experience coming from my childhood. I was 14. At this time, I often snuck out to forbidden places, with flashlights, with my best friend. One day, we found a twisted spoon, a camping stove and thousands of little plastic bags full of white powder. We thought it could be drug material, and we decided to take all this “loot” on our motorcycle. Eventually, since we didn’t know what to do with it, we dumped it in the river without really thinking about what we were doing. Our decision may have cost somebody’s life, or something else important. It’s a story I kept for more than 30 years now. This is how everything started.

Also, I wanted the movie to take place on the border between Morocco and Algeria because I was amazed by the impressive landscapes I saw there. I started imagining a film where the desert would play a great part in the story. Border zones are often dangerous, no man’s lands, going from one state to another.

Regarding the story about the donkey and the Walkman, it’s a true story even if smugglers actually record whistle sounds and not music as presented in the movie. I found it funny to bring in this misunderstanding with the music. And for the football field, the idea came to me after seeing all these kids playing football all along my trip, from north to south Morocco. All these little stories stayed somewhere in my mind and finally merged into one, the one we tell in Nefta Football Club.

JM: What are you working on next?

YP: I am currently working on a feature film taking place in Jerusalem. An Israeli diplomat suffocates to death while eating lamb, a few days before a peace agreement is to be signed. The forensic investigators discover an Israeli bullet in the diplomat’s aorta and the police investigation reveals that the lamb came from the Palestinian territories. The American emissary in charge of the success of this peace agreement has to handle the situation with extreme caution.

Shorts That Are Not Pants Festival 2019 takes place November 15-16 at 401 Richmond. Early Bird passes are available NOW!

Expanding Our Reach

Shortfilmdepot logo
Festhome logo

We love FilmFreeway. We were one of the first festivals to use this (Canadian!) film submission platform when it launched, and we continue to rely on it for quality film submissions. But we were finding that we weren’t receiving as many non-English language films as we’d like. After conducting a bit of research, we’ve decided to expand our reach by accepting films on two other submission platforms:

  1. Shortfilmdepot was created by the people behind the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, the biggest short film festival in the world. Their truly international selection is an inspiration and so we’re confident that we’ll receive films from lots of new places this year.
  2. Festhome is based in Spain and has a good reach in Latin America as well. Some of our favourite short films come from Spain and we’ve been sorely lacking in representing work from the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, so we’re hoping this will remedy that situation.

Though we’ve been quiet lately, there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes, including researching new venues and partnerships. Stay tuned for more news, and if you haven’t yet signed up for our newsletter, consider taking that step. Just wait for the pop up subscription form.

February 2019 Audience Award Winner

Still from BENEATH THE INK

Thanks to everyone who attended last night. There were a few different audience favourites, but congratulations to Cy Dodson (Beneath the Ink), whose film took the Audience Award prize!

  1. Beneath the Ink – 5 votes
  2. Caroline – 3 votes
  3. Fast Horse – 3 votes
  4. Brotherhood – 1 vote

(12 votes total)

Our next screening of new work will be in May 2019. More news here, on Twitter, and on Facebook. Sign up for the newsletter and don’t miss a thing.

2018 Festival Awards

Our very first festival was a huge success this past weekend, wildly exceeding my modest expectations. I’m grateful to everyone who shared, posted, tweeted, and especially those who attended our celebration of short film, and I can’t wait to start working on plans for 2019. But first, I want to recognize our award winners. Thank you to all our jury members for their hard work and for lending us their expertise. Congratulations to these filmmakers but also to all the rest of the filmmakers who allowed us to share their work during the festival. Toronto enjoyed watching your films and we can’t wait to see what you’re working on next!

Award Winners 2018

  • Best Narrative Film: Bitchboy (Dir: Måns Berthas)
  • Best Documentary Film: Tungrus (Dir: Rishi Chandna)
  • Best Animated Film: This Magnificent Cake! (Dirs: Emma De Swaef, Marc James Roels)
  • Audience Award: Flight (Dir: Lianne Graham)

BitchboyTungrusThis Magnificent Cake!

2018 Festival Juries

With the festival kicking off in just two days, I’d like to introduce the good people who are helping us determine our three juried award winners. We’ll be giving away a total of $1,000 in prize money with the help of our audiences, as well as these fine industry leaders.

Narrative Jury

Laurence BoyceGina Dellabarcadonna g

Laurence Boyce

Laurence Boyce started out at the Leeds International Film Festival in the UK and went on to become an award-winning critic for various outlets, including Sight and Sound and Screen International. He currently resides in Tallinn, Estonia, where is the head of programme for the live action section of PÖFF Shorts, a part of the A-List festival Black Nights. He is a member of BAFTA, FIPRESCI, the European Film Academy, London Critics’ Circle and is on the board of the Short Film Conference.

Gina Dellabarca

Gina Dellabarca is the Festival Director for Show Me Shorts Film Festival, New Zealand’s leading international short film festival. She co-founded this festival in 2006, and under her guidance it has grown into a highly respected Oscar-qualifying event.

Ms Dellabarca’s background is in marketing and publicity for films. She also co-owned and managed an important art-house cinema in Auckland.

She is a Board member for the world-wide Short Film Conference organization, working to promote the status of the short film and unite the global short film community.

donna g

donna g is a film lover and radio host/producer at CIUT 89.5 FM in Toronto. She has been covering films and film festivals for almost two decades, and is especially passionate about supporting new and emerging filmmakers. Currently the host of “The More the Merrier with donna g”, she is a fan of both large and small festivals, having recently wrapped coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and fulfilled a role as a jury member (Short Film) for the Durham Regional International Film Festival (DRIFF). From “Fubar” to Béla Tarr, donna g believes strongly that there is a film out there for everyone.

Animation Jury

Kieran ArgoPenelope BartlettHector Herrera

Kieran Argo

Kieran has been working in animation for more than 25 years. He worked at Aardman for fifteen years where he promoted a number of favourites including Wallace & Gromit and managed their international Events and Exhibitions Department. A career highlight was working with Studio Ghibli in Japan on a year-long special exhibition at the famous Ghibli Museum in Tokyo. He also served on many international film festivaljuries including BAFTA.

He helped establish the Encounters Short Film Festival in Bristol and served as a Board Director for twelve years. He has been the Animation Programmer since 2010. In recent years Kieran has been responsible for delivering a number of professional development events including the Encounters Producers Courses and a number of training events for the Random Acts (Channel Four/Arts Council England) filmmakers in the South West of England.

Penelope Bartlett

Penelope Bartlett was most recently the programmer for the streaming service The Criterion Channel on FilmStruck. She served as Director of Programming for the 2016 Palm Springs Shortfest, has curated for the website shortoftheweek.com, and held positions at the Chicago International Film Festival, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, and the Glasgow Short Film Festival.

Hector Herrera

Hector Herrera is a creative director and animator living and working in Toronto. Having headed the design teams of several award winning studios (Cuppa Coffee Animation, The Studio Upstairs and Trace Pictures) he now freelances as a creative director designer and animator. He’s a founding partner of the animated content production studio Together: Words+Pictures for Art & Culture where he has designed and directed several animated music videos and short films. His short film The Ballad Of Immortal Joe won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Animated short in 2016.

Documentary Jury

Myrocia WatamaniukSébastien Simon

Myrocia Watamaniuk

Myrocia Watamaniuk is a Senior International Programmer at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto. She has programmed fiction and non-fiction features and shorts for more than 20 years, holding programming positions at Toronto International Film Festival, Aspen ShortsFest, and the Canadian Film Centre’s Worldwide Short Film Festival. As a broadcaster and television producer, she has hosted programs and appeared on CBC News, CBC Toronto and Rogers TV.

Sébastien Simon

Sébastien Simon is a filmmaker and a programmer/organizer for Busan International Short Film Festival, Jeju French Film Festival (Korea) and Rencontres Cinématographiques de Cavaillon (France), as well as a preselection juror for Slamdance Film Festival (USA) and Seoul International Extreme-Short Image & Film Festival (Korea). He graduated from the E.S.E.C film school and from Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne. His recent short films as director or co-director include One-minded (2014), The Urban Suite (2014), Tetsu Kono’s crazy routine (2016) and The Troubled Troubadour (2016).