OIFF spotlight: Short films sure to impress in Saturday series

Photo credit: Judy via Flickr

Christine Skobe is the Ottawa International Film Festival’s director of social media.  In a series of posts also being published on OIFF’s blog, Christine is shining the spotlight on some of films being featured in the festival, which runs from Aug. 18-20.

With only 3 days left until the kick-off of OIFF 2011, it’s a great time to look at some of the short films that are featured in this year’s program. Up today: The Waiting Room and Clarity.

The Waiting Room and Clarity both play Aug. 20 during OIFF

The Waiting Room

Recipient of the “Voter’s Favourite” Award at the OIFF 72-hour film challenge held earlier this year, The Waiting Room is a passionate and engaging film straight from the heart of Ottawa. In fact, this film brings us back to the roots of the festival itself — filmmakers coming together and shooting movies. The 72-hour film challenge is just that — movie makers are given a few rules and a number of ‘must-include’ plot points, and let loose on a wild three-day movie shoot. The finished products are presented to a crowd of artists and local filmmakers; they voted in masses to give The Waiting Room the top honours.

The Waiting Room won OIFF's 72-hour challenge

The film revolves around one man’s experience in a waiting room in preparation for a spiritual adventure to Taiwan. It uses many surrealist techniques to create the distortion that is necessary in illustrating the rift between living and beyond. The narrative explores several past memories before setting off for the trip of a lifetime. Staring Jane Chupick, Sean Hockey and Kyle Lidster, The Waiting Room is an existential adventure into one man’s perception of life after death. The film runs a mere six minutes and is bound to leave a philosophical mark on the audience.

Alex Williams, the film’s writer, director and a budding auteur, is an Ottawa success story himself. An Algonquin graduate in television broadcasting, Williams has gone on to work as a producer with the non-profit organization Free the Children, as well as to co-found Wilco Productions. Williams also worked with OIFF 2010 in coordinating the Music Video Challenge.


Clarity is a force that has been making the festival rounds, appearing at the San Antonio Film Festival, the Detroit Windsor International Film Festival and the Long Island Film Expo. The story itself is one of Max Stein (played by director Eric Lunsky), an optometrist like his father and grandfather before him. Max brings much-needed clarity to his patients. With the aid of his mystical eye-chart, some of Max’s clients are presented with a sense of clarity as they read the final line in their eye exam. The letters form a message of personal meaning that is only visible to the specific person it relates to. The film dares to explore fantastical ideas while remaining grounded in more traditional narrative storylines.

Matt Baram plays Glen in Clarity

Lunsky is also the film’s writer, co-director and producer, receiving the ‘Best Story’ award for Clarity at the aforementioned Long Island Film Expo. Co-directed by Harvey Wolfe, the production team has created a quirky and developed plot line that borders on philosophical. Wolfe also worked on the project as editor, sound editor, and composer. The score is something to keep your eye on — Wolfe spent two years working on music and sound design and composing original scores for North American television and movies. Since then, Wolfe has worked as the President of Cause & Effect CommunicationsClarity‘s production company.

The Waiting Room and Clarity both screen Saturday, August 20 at 3:30pm in a program of six short films. Tickets are available online or at the box office on the day of, located at the Empire Theatres in the World Exchange Plaza (111 Albert Street).

For the full Ottawa International Film Festival schedule, be sure to visit OIFF’s website.