Nov 14, 2023 | Festival News Previews and reviews
By Emma Poole
We would like to begin this review by stating that we are so proud and thankful to be a part of a community that supports and celebrates the works of both established and emerging artists within our community and beyond. At film festivals, audiences are exposed to novel concepts, narratives, and experiences that they might not have otherwise encountered by watching these films. This exposure promotes diversity and inclusivity among communities by fostering cultural appreciation and understanding. The Ottawa Canadian Film Festival highlights some of these works and makes them accessible to those who will enjoy them. This year, we were invited by Blair Campbell, the co-founder of OCan Film Fest, to come enjoy a night at the festival and share our thoughts on some of the short film submissions from several incredibly talented filmmakers. Here is part one of our #OttFestLive review of some of our favorite films from OCan Film Festival 2023.
Lunch at the Rideau, Jane Gurr, Kent Newson (Ottawa, ON) [ Short | Documentary]
Starting off with one that is extremely close to home is Lunch at the Rideau directed by Jane Gurr & Kent Newson. This short documentary takes place somewhere in the early 2000s when Ottawa’s beloved Kosher lunch counter, the Rideau Bakery, was in its prime. This film stood out to me as one of the best because of its heavy notes of nostalgia, and intimate look into the ways of life at The Rideau Bakery. In this 16-minute documentary, we are introduced to the cast of characters who work at the bakery as they take us through a day at the bakery and beautifully describe the impact that this establishment has had on their lives. We are introduced to Rideau bakery staff and hear testaments from its customers, who treat the bakery as a second home. The bakery became a place where, no matter where you’re from or what life you’ve led, the Rideau Bakery is a place where you can make connections, and ultimately, a sense of family. I always love films that appear to be one-dimensional, but in fact, have a much deeper meaning and can be appreciated on a more emotional level. Lunch at the Rideau aligns with these types of films. What at first appears to be a simple film about a hole-in-the-wall lunch counter, is slowly revealed to be much more than that. The narrative takes on a more emotional tone when it is revealed that the lunch counter closed its doors in 2019. The filmmakers did a fantastic job of capturing this moment in time, leaving the audience in a state of mournful nostalgia for simpler times and the bakery that they once called home.
Margot’s Sister (La Soeur de Margot), Christine Doyon (she/her), (Boucherville, QC) [ Short | Narrative ]
The next film we had the pleasure of seeing at OCan was a film called Margot’s Sister by Christine Doyon. The short narrative-based film follows the life of Margot, a young teen whose identity struggles and insecurities are brought further to the forefront when her neurodivergent sister, Loulou, joins her after-school program. The film follows Margot as she grapples with two competing forces within herself. One where she’s maintaining this “cool girl” facade to fit in with her peers at school, and the other where she’s a loving, caring sister to Loulou. When these two personas begin to intersect, Margot must decide what’s most important to her. Watching this film unfold, I wondered how this story might hold a connection in Christine Doyon’s personal life. With a bit of research, I learned that Doyon’s driving inspiration for her films is human stories about strength and resilience. This film is no exception. Doyon as a thorough understanding of the psyche of Margot, and the other characters within this film, which shines though in the final act of the film. At the film’s climax, Margot finds the courage to educate her classmates on Loulou’s disability. This is a touching moment shows just how transformational Margots journey has been through the course of the story. With incredible direction, narrative storytelling, and the remarkable work of the cast and crew, I found that this film and its message stuck with me long after the credits rolled.