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Ottawa Competition 2 - There Can Be Happy Endings

There were some tough films in this competition. Three stood out for me.

Joseph Pierce's A Family Portrait.

By Sharon Katz.

There were some tough films in this competition. Three stood out for me. 

Have you ever had the pleasure of being lined up for a family portrait? How about watching family members at close range as they come undone? Joseph Pierce's film A Family Portrait marries comedy to the worst of those memories. 

Two parents, two kids, one man with a camera determined to catch what's really going on for this family. Sensing that there's a lot more than love and hugs here, he facilitates and even encourages the uncovering of tempestuous emotion.  We, the voyeurs, can't take our eyes off the drama.

A sharp, even piercing film that also makes us laugh because we've all got buried feelings that we think aren't showing. But while our heads may be buried in the sand, our asses are sticking straight up in the air.

A must see for any family that isn't already in therapy. A great piece of humour for any family that already is.

Priit Parn's Divers in the Rain.

Priit Parn's Divers in the Rain.

It's impossible not to at least mention Priit and Olga Parn's new film Divers In The Rain. While masterfully animated, the Parn films are not easy tales to decipher and require at least a couple of viewings to tease out what's driving them. 

The synopsis reads: "This is a story about an everyday diver and a night dentist.... Nobody knows when it is time for the last cigarette."

There is a deep hopelessness underlying this film, a sense that while we keep trying to make a difference, effort is pointless because things just never seem to move forward. 

Anita Killi's Angry Man.

Angry Man by Anita Killi is a narrative short from Norway. It's important to point out the country of production because Norway has within its mythology a tradition of the power of trolls and Kings. 

The theme line of the film is that it's time to tell secrets. Here in North America that could be heard as bordering on a pedantic message. But the innocence of the story line permits us even here in the jaded west to take it in at face value. 

An impatient father snaps from love to rage to brutality, becoming for his son a frightening and untrustworthy beast. The boy flees in terror to the garden where the birds encourage him to tell his secret. He writes a letter to the King asking if he is the cause of his father's rage and the King responds by taking the father into care where he begins to heal. A touching story. Leave your cynicism at home. 

Sharon Katz is a visual artist working in still and animatedimagery. Her award winning animations screen at art and film festivalsaround the world, and her drawings and paintings are held in artcollections in Canada and abroad. You can visit her website at and reach her by email at