September 18–October 19, 2023

Small File Media Retrospective

Small-file media began as a practice of raising awareness about the high carbon footprint of streaming media and has since become an entirely new art form. This radical aesthetic practice challenges the prevailing desire for high-definition media and cinematic grandeur; it also explores the unknown, pixel by pixel, and propels the formation of imaginary realities and alternate cosmic outlooks.

A prelude to the upcoming 2023 Small File Media Festival, this retrospective explores the affective power of experimental ecomedia through a curated selection of green and artful small films. Programs will run 15 minutes before the first regular evening screening each night, admission is included. 

—Abede Mohammadi

September 18 (Monday)
October 9 (Monday)

Poetics of Liveliness

A visual meditation on the world’s poetic forces—the entanglement and interconnectedness of all things. Through these works, pixels render themselves into a state of moldability and dynamism, imitating the wandering intuitions of poetry and echoing the liveliness of the natural world.

Weeping Ocean
Canada 2020 | Mansoor Behnam | 1 min. | 1 MB

An experimental moving image poem, capturing a sense of melancholy intertwined with the immanence and sublimity of the ocean.

Canada 2014 | Eldritch Priest | 3 min. | 5.7 MB

Through a microscopic gaze, this film renders the orchid’s refined beauty into rough imagery—a distinctive take on the enchanting nature of flowers.

Glints 3: A Ravine
Iran/​Canada 2021 | Somayeh Khakshoor | 2 min. | 4.3 MB

This third installment in Khakshoor’s Glints series begins with a poetic invocation: Look at the water.” It is soon followed by a spectral and unfathomable aqueous landscape.

Mountain Soul-Assemblages: Zbój [bandit]
Poland/​Éire 2020 | Radek Przedpełski | 1 min. | 4.3 MB digital file

A poetic encounter with the quietude and wordlessness of stones. This work is part of two site-specific installations, which engage in a dynamic interplay with local narratives, contextual surroundings, ecologies, and locally-sourced materials.

Series #4: Single Atmosphere Suit
Canada 2021 | Charlie Cooper | 2 min. | 8.1 MB digital file

An aesthetically enticing voyage through weather cameras, this small film immerses us in a sea of vivid hues, where duality dissolves and tangible entities entwine into abstract echoes.

Landscape Study IV
Canada 2019 | Jordyn Stewart | 3 min. | 22 MB digital file

A picturesque skyline morphs into a silhouette of mountains as the ocean, sky, and clouds seamlessly merge into one another.

September 20 (Wednesday)
October 11 (Wednesday)

Being There

An exploration of the raw honesty of shared vulnerabilities within the vast cosmos. These subtly gripping works oscillate between wanting to sever all ties and a longing for connection.

The Finally Frontier
Canada 2019 | Lauren Prousky | 3 min. | 3.2 MB

Mars One’s colonialist marketing campaign has been transformed into a playful work of art that captures our lingering desire to leave everything behind.

Canada 2022 | Criss Wang | 2 min. | 5 MB

Infused with a poetic quality and vivid colors, Yellow captures a newcomer’s emotional journey through Vancouver—from feeling lost and facing language barriers to taking refuge in the city’s bird’s‑eye views and pink skies.

USA 2020 | Weihan Zhou | 3 min. | 3.9 MB

Via a low-res, motion-activated camera, the filmmaker, far away from his home, witnesses a ghostly moth flutter erratically into his New York bedroom. As the film unfolds, the initial hatred for the moth turns into empathy.

Canada 2021 | Xinyue Liu | 4 min. | 5 MB

A daycare worker begins a heartfelt conversation about the invisible traces of caring, guided by the hopeful eyes of a newborn. A disarmingly affecting portrayal of the labour of care.

September 22 (Friday)
October 13 (Friday)

Diasporic Intimacy

Drawing on the evocative power of archival footage, these works grapple with the ephemerality of memory and the in-betweenness of the diasporic experience within ever-shifting landscapes.

Once Upon a Time
Canada 2020 | Hân Phạm | 5 min. | 5.67 MB

In a quiet bedroom, a backward journey unfolds through affective digital manipulation, where the artist’s room transforms into an altered landscape that presents lingering images of the past.

Canada 2021 | Noor Abouchehade | 2 min. | 3.9 MB

A nested portrayal of the ever-present desire to track old landscapes while exploring the uncharted territory of the new.

Rostig Födelsedag
USA 2020 | Niklas Vollmer | 2 min. | 4.2 MB

Looking at vintage black-and-white home movies from Sweden, we hear Vollmer playfully coaxing his grandmother to play a melody on the accordion.

Back Home
Canada 2021 | Homa Khosravi | 2 min. | 2.84 MB

Amid layered images, a dancer’s movement entwines with a blooming flower, interlaced with the sound of a Persian news report.

September 23 (Saturday)
October 14 (Saturday)

Radical Sensuality

These films explore the boundless possibilities and unknown promises of the body and invite us to embrace its vitalism and untapped creative power.

Advisory: Contains sexually explicit images

Canada/​Japan 2019 | Leanne Dunic | 2 min. | 2 MB

Infused with fervent longing, Melt portrays the intimate connection between a woman and the wilderness — or, if we take in the humour of the piece, maybe we find ourselves watching a woman attempt to seduce an aloof and cool-hearted crush.

I Missed You
USA 2020 | Paul Clay, Sarah Kantrowitz | 1 min. | 2 MB

A playful twist on romantic gestures that subverts hand-centric norms through a foot’s tender touch with flowers. 

Then, Now, and Then
Canada 2021 | Pierre Leichner | 3 min. | 4.3 MB

Drawing upon the symbolic resonance of the Venus of Willendorf, this film illustrates the transformation of a Venus figurine as it emerges from dark liquid matter.

Starling of the Haunting Wolves
Canada 2020 | Jujube | 4 min. | 4.3 MB

An evocative fusion of ethereal beauty and unsettling undertones. Drawing on visuals from pop culture and cinema, Starling explores the interplay between nature, culture, and the subconscious through a female lens.

The Shore
Greece 2020 | Eirini Tampasouli | 3 min. | 5.3 MB

A portrayal of a woman’s solitary sojourn along the water’s edge, where stones, sticks, and soil are used to craft a sculpture that becomes an earthly companion. Tampasouli transports viewers into a world where the ancient bond between body and earth is rekindled.

September 24 (Sunday)
October 15 (Sunday)

Existential Drizzles

Like the enduring fascination that cinema holds for existential themes, these melancholic works of whimsy share a fondness for exploring the absurdity of being.

O’Hara Lane
Canada 2020 | Colin Williscroft | 3 min. | 2.75 MB

A cat goes through an existential abyss. Shot in the filmmaker’s backyard and basement, O’Hara Lane uses playfulness and ingenuity to explore themes of solitude, boredom, and the transition to adulthood.

Canada 2022 | Yuyan Song | 2 min. | 5 MB

A humorous and ingenious take on the cyborg experience. While observing dancing jellyfish, an optimistic bionic gizmo has a philosophical chat about beauty, life, consciousness, and death with a pessimistic counterpart.

South Africa/​Canada 2021 | Ockert Greeff | 2 min. | 4.3 MB

From a train window, amidst a passing industrial landscape, raindrops cling to the glass as we follow the story of a lost soul.

It’s raining but I don’t believe it’s raining
USA 2020 | Eric Butler | 4 min. | 1.2 MB

Through transfixing visual degradation, a low-resolution self-portrait metamorphoses into a surface of glitch and digital decay, leaving a haunting image of self.

September 25 (Monday)
October 16 (Monday)

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Already eco-friendly and environmentally conscious entities, even these small files can’t escape the grip of eco-anxiety. 

why wonder
Canada 2021 | Christopher Carruth | 2 min. | 4.6 MB

By buffering a YouTube playback of Kermit the Frog’s It’s Not Easy Being Green,” this film challenges the typical streaming interface, while also invoking the spirit of greenness” and environmental consciousness inherent in small files.

Doomer 1, 2, 3
Canada 2022 | Amber Morrison Fox, Matthew Fox | 1 min. | 5 MB

A haunting small-file trilogy immersed in a foreboding atmosphere, Doomer pivots between deceased and decaying animals. The film evokes an unsettling feeling of environmental decline.

It Is Going to Be a Hot Summer
Canada 2022 | Sophia English | 2 min. | 5 MB

While spring is not over yet, the looming thought of a hot summer keeps the film’s protagonist indoors, even on a rainy day. A pixelated indication of our bitter awareness of global warming.

Pocket Theatre: In the Beginning; Next of Days; Planet B
Canada 2020–2021 | Monique Motut-Firth, pr0phecy sun | 3 min. | 2.31 MB

These hectic mashups of mechanically generated illustrations hold a whimsical undertone that playfully hints at our impending doom.

Cone Worms Near Burrard Inlet
Canada 2021 | Sunny Nestler | 2 min. | 18.8 MB

An imaginative twist on non-organic materials. In a utopian future, traffic cones have evolved beyond their plastic ancestors, transforming into living organisms that roam freely.

September 26 (Tuesday)
October 18 (Wednesday)

Mirage Odysseys

A surreal odyssey into the territory of our dreams that teeters on the threshold between reverie and reality.

Electrical Storm
Canada 2022 | Dag Davidge | 3 min. | 5 MB

With its nod to Lynchian visuals, Electrical Storms title aptly captures the film’s blend of a life-threatening event and atmospheric intensity.

You Know the One
Canada 2020 | Sony Cody | 2 min. | 1.5 MB

An introspective small film that invites us into a moment of wakefulness between two dreams and explores the elusive nature of thoughts in this liminal state of consciousness. 

Data Dreaming
Canada 2022 | Monique Motut-Firth | 3 min. | 5 MB

Starting with a structured realm of lines and angles, then morphing into a fluid world of spirals, Data Dreaming is a hypnotic display of graphical data. 

The Frontiersman
Canada 2020 | Joseph Ku | 3 min. | 4.93 MB

This intricately crafted small file takes us on an adventure led by an explorer as he crosses the frontiers of time and space.

September 27 (Wednesday)
October 19 (Thursday)

Embracing aging technology is like loving an old pet”

By immersing us in the tactile beauty of analogue recordings, these films invite us to revisit obsolete filming technologies and explore their creative potential.

Hauntology at 576 Lines (and some at 480 lines)
Australia 2020 | Matt Warren | 5 min. | 4.9 MB

While revisiting his artistic past on a VHS tape, Warren is haunted by the immanent presence of analogue noise’s flickering entities.

Convalescing Camcorder and Two Cats
USA 2021 | Rachel Stuckey | 5 min. | 4.7 MB

A video diary recorded on VHS turns into a musing on obsolete technologies and our feline companions. Through the artful use of low-angle shots of adopted elderly cats, Convalescing Camcorder offers a unique vantage point where seeing becomes a gateway to touching.

Canada Council for the Arts