Launching in T Minus M60: The Montreal 60 Second Film Festival Welcomes Itself

Photo Credit: Mohamed Hamad

The Montreal 60 Second Film Festival says movies can be one minute long and be made in a month. M60 says people will do it for free and with no prospect of prizes at the end. And they’ve been doing it very well for five years straight.

The more I heard of this whimsical film festival, the curiouer and curiouser I got, until finally, on July 19 I found myself waiting outside Casa del Popolo in a line that stretched out into the street, through the bar, into the back room and straight to the smiling face of Sean Michaels, one of the organizers who welcomed the filmmakers as they crowded into the room to register.

Photo Credit: Mohamed Hamad

As far as launch parties go, this one was saturated in casual enthusiasm. The masses milled, filled their glasses and mingled as the jingle jangle of Tom Mennier’s old timey music skidded around the room.

Pianist: Tom Mennier
Photo Credit: Mohamed Hamad

All launch parties have the potential to devolve into over the top schmooze fests, but at this particular one, there was none of that. Perhaps that’s because M60 isn’t your typical film festival. It doesn’t make any money and there are no juries or judges. It’s small. It’s made from love.

Rounding out the evening were two local Montreal acts: spoken-word knockout Cat Kidd and talent from Montreal’s storytelling community, Confabulation. But the entertainment didn’t end there. Did you know Casa del Popolo has a basement? People were shuffling down those creaky stairs all night for the chance to confess their misdemeanours on camera. Much booze was quaffed. Embarrassing stories leapt from mouths.

Spoken Word Artist :Cat Kidd
Photo Credit: Mohamed Hamad

…And finally, the premise: registrants have one month to shoot a one-minute film on a pre-determined theme. 2008’s theme was In a Montreal Minute, 2009’s was Deception, 2010’s was Adventure and 2011’s was Chance. This year’s theme is Faux Pas.

Once the films are submitted (none are rejected) they are arranged to fit nicely together in a feature-length montage, which will be screened at Excentris Theatre on the Main from September 13 to 15.

Photo Credit: Mohamed Hamad

So why the sixty-second time limit? “We wanted to have some sort of constraint that made things doable” Sean Michaels (writer by day) explained amidst the din. “It also does something really magical to the pace of things at the festival: Some movies feel like they’re gone in the blink of an eye and some movies feel like time dilates and that’s really fun.”

Registration may be over, but the festival is only beginning.

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