By Julie Bernier, programming and specials projects coordination.

Now there’s a deceptive title that grabs your attention! Although I took advantage of a few stops at the Tim Hortons that crossed my path to savour some delicious iced coffees, the main purpose of my trip was the wonderful world of short films. Between September 10 and 25, my car drew an almost perfect triangle between Toronto, Sudbury and Ottawa as it propelled me into the effervescence of three famous film festivals.

STOP #1: TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival)

After dropping off my luggage at the eccentric AirBNB where I would dwell for a week (in which there were, among other things, Astroturf, a pole-dancing pole and snow globes containing pornographic pictures), I rushed to the SODEC happy hour, where actors, directors, producers, distributors, buyers and programmers were having a few drinks together in almost total harmony. It was a good time for meeting the people who were to become my “partners in crime” for the week, exchanging smiles with total strangers and having more serious (but not too serious) discussions with various industry stakeholders. It was the perfect way to start out my week as a festivalgoer and prepare for what was to come: two evenings of karaoke (which I hate, so I certainly had more than my fill) and especially film discoveries that I couldn’t wait to share with my programmer colleagues. I would like to emphasize the excellence and hilarity of the Swiss musical animation film, Niki Lindroth Von Bahr’s THE BURDEN, which won the award for best short film for this edition of the festival. It’s a film that deals with the ordinariness of daily life with a sense of timing and remarkable originality.

Before hitting the road, I greeted my friend Jason Anderson (co-programmer of the Short Cuts), which enabled me to accompany them for another successful edition of the TIFF. P.S.: Spiderman was also there!

STOP #2: CinéFest Sudbury International Film Festival

On the way to Northern Ontario: all around me, trees that sing their autumnal poetry with the lakes’ red reflections as their emblems. When I finally got to the Nickel Capital, I discovered a peculiar landscape of boulders blackened by foundry smoke. In addition to its mining operations, Sudbury is also known for its prominent francophone cultural centre. Hosted by none other than Éric Bachand, the founder of REGARD who has been in exile there since 2011, I was in good hands to better understand the history of this region and in good company for some film screenings. Guess whom I had the chance to meet there? Gord Downie, lead singer of the Canadian group The Tragically Hip, who was at the opening film, LONG TIME RUNNING, a feature film that goes behind the scenes of the Man Machine Poem tour and gives an intimate perspective on the artist’s life-threatening bout with brain cancer.

It wasn’t the last touching film that I saw during the Festival; moved and a bit shaken by the range of emotions I experienced during the program, I continued my journey toward the last stop on this tour of Ontario.

STOP #3: Ottawa International Animation Festival

Do I need to tell you how much I was looking forward to attending the largest North American event celebrating animation? Feeling as giddy as a child and with a light heart and ear-to-ear smile, I started off the festival by attending the first short films program, which was preceded by the hilarious introduction by Chris Robinson, programmer and the festival’s artistic director. With his cool, deadpan delivery, before introducing the juries in attendance, he ordered the lighting technician to turn on the “nipple lights.”

That’s all it took to win me over. Each of my trips in the Canadian capital took place in this refreshingly lighthearted atmosphere. It was a faultless itinerary with an abundance of animated jewels.

Because all good things come to an end. . .

Get back in the car, Simone, let’s go home! The interior of my car echoed with the latest musical hits from one of our region’s fine performers playing in a loop: Joël Martel. “Au Tim Hortons” and “au Canada” accompanied me on the road back to the Saguenay. Filled to the brim with films, I didn’t need to look at the landscape to see images flowing by. They are there, in my mind, and I am impatiently looking forward to the Festival REGARD so that I can share them with you.

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