September 27, 2020

BY MARK LORENTZ

Hollywood may have the household names today, but Waterloo Region just might have the up-and-coming directors of tomorrow.

The first round of the Berlin Shorts occurred Oct. 3 at the Registry Theatre on Frederick Street, less than a kilometre from Kitchener’s downtown core. Six short films were shown, ranging in length from one minute to the maximum five minutes. After each film, the audience would vote on whether they wished to see more films from the director, helping them move onto the second round, which will occur Jan. 30, 2014.

Berlin Shorts was first held in 2009. It was created by Sam Varteniuk when he moved here from Edmonton, Alta, where he had already established “Metro Shorts,” which was just starting to become popular when he moved to Kitchener.

“Kitchener loves new things,” Varteniuk said, adding, “When I came here, I wanted to bring with me what I started in Edmonton. We did five rounds there. Here in Kitchener, we’re still getting started, so three works well.”

Torin Langen, a film technician for the Berlin Shorts, said having a low budget or none at all actually helps with creativity, to make something out of nothing. Langen also said that events like this help filmmakers network, finding people who are better at a certain aspect of filmmaking to help each other out in various up-and-coming projects.

The winner of the first round was determined by audience vote, as well as a confidential vote by three local judges: Jenn Norton, a digital media artist, Randy Johnston, mid-day radio host of CKWR, and local playwright Gary Kirkham. The filmmakers stood in front of the judges after their short was screened and received instant feedback, via constructive criticism and what the judges liked.

Greg McCann thought his film The Eyebrow didn’t have a chance, afterall it, was barely a minute long, had very little dialogue and the voice-overs were recorded around a kitchen table. Varteniuk thought otherwise, saying that animated films typically do well in short films. McCann ended up winning the first round.  He received not only bragging rights, but a trip to the next round, and a one-of-a-kind finger-painting done by Varteniuk’s two-year-old daughter.

“I was surprised, I didn’t really know what to expect. It was my first time entering anything like this,” McCann said.

Kirkham was surprised as well, saying that other films had more polish, and looked a lot more professional, but at the end of the day it was about telling a story in a short amount of time that was engaging and creative, and McCann’s short did just that.

McCann now has to come up with another film for the second round. Varteniuk has the top three finalists come up with an entirely new entry for each round,

“It’s a kick in the butt to get their creative minds going,” Varteniuk said.

McCann joked after winning that he felt obligated to continue, and said, “I just hope I didn’t peak too early.”

For more information on upcoming events, the Berlin Shorts or how to submit your own films, visit www.registrytheatre.com