Six essential Canadian shorts at VIFF

The Georgia Straight (Michael Scoular) - “La Cartographe” (Close Quarters) Can “La Cartographe” really be called a short? It’s the longest work in the entire section at 34 minutes. But it doesn’t waste one. Conceptually, this is a contra-city symphony of Burnaby. It leads out from the perspective of Emma (Emma Bonikowsky), who’s stuck somewhere around the 21st floor of an apartment tower with her brother, who dedicates his time to methodically practicing his first-person shooter of choice, day or night. She watches from the couch next to him and from the apartment’s balcony, where she observes a morning jogger, and from there writer-director Nathan Douglas builds a kind of branching perspective upon the things we watch the most: the screen, which whirls and disorients, and the window, which opens out and stabilizes. The film takes a risky leap halfway through, based on Emma’s relation to the jogger. She’s looking for anything to interest her, which means she seizes upon the uninteresting, in the sense that literally no one else on the planet cares about what she chooses to care about. This is a sincerely bewildering and attentive film, one that evokes a similar spirit to some lines near the end of John Ashbery’s Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror: “We have seen the city; it is the gibbous / mirrored eye of an insect. All things happen / On its balcony and are resumed within, / […] And each part of the whole falls off / And cannot know it knew, except / Here and there, in cold pockets / Of remembrance, whispers out of time.” Close Quarters screens October 9