UBC student, alum films screened at the Vancouver Short Film Festival

Films by current UBC student Kaitlyn Lee and BFA film production alum Anna Chiyeko Shannon were selected to be screened at the prestigious Vancouver Short Film Festival that ran from January 28 to February 6.

Shannon directed and wrote the film Amelia, which she described, in an interview to The Ubyssey, as a ten-minute short inspired by an “amalgamation” of different ideas. The film tells the story of a young actress who is willing to go to any length to land the role of her career. While the short could be mistaken for just another psychological thriller, the narrative of Amelia also has the themes of demonic possession and manipulation intertwined in it.

Shannon got the idea of the film from a frightening incident that happened to her, where she was almost scammed out of all of her money.

“I was absolutely blown away by how [somebody’s] words can . . . manipulate you into a certain path and into a certain way of thinking,” she said. A self-confessed fan of the horror genre, Shannon wanted to add her own “flavour” to the demonic possession and female lead genres that, in some ways, reflected both her experience with the almost-scam and the female experience as a whole, which she acknowledges can sometimes be quite horrifying.

She developed the story of Amelia as part of her thesis film in the bachelor of fine arts program at UBC and she credits the program for opening the door for her into the film industry.

While the complex execution of the film can be disorienting at times, for the most part, Amelia ensures an immersive movie-watching experience for the audience and leaves viewers wanting more.

Contrasting in tone and genre from Shannon’s Amelia, Lee’s entry into the festival was titled Not My Age. The story follows a young (at heart) grandmother, who, accustomed to going on nightly adventures with her granddaughter, takes on one last adventure after breaking her leg. With no background in film production, the second-year sociology major is thankful to her brother, who is pursuing a degree in film production, as well as a few others in his program who aided her in being able to put the film together.

Originally intending to tell a coming-of-age tale involving the granddaughter, Lee ended up shifting her focus to the grandmother. “As I explored the idea of youth more, I realized it's more of a universal thing, and it's more of a mindset,” Lee told The Ubyssey.

No single person inspired the grandmother character of Lee’s film. Instead, she based the character on a myriad of conversations with elders over the years. Lee referenced being “pulled out of reality” during these conversations, which she believes is an experience everyone can relate to.

While the story of Not My Age is simple, the intent behind it, to highlight a different perspective about the idea of youth, shines through.

“I think the last scene kind of points to this idea that . . . youth is still universal, you can still have these moments and you can still be present and experience life, no matter what your limitations are,” she said.

The Vancouver Short Film Festival was held virtually this year and screened 51 films.