At our 2017 fest, 91% of the 127 questionnaires received from members of the public rated their film package as great (44%) or good (47%); and 100% of the 21 questionnaires received from attendees at the Filmmaker Insights Symposium rated their workshop or panel as great (71%) or good (29%). The following is a small sample of comments we received from respondents who gave their permission to share them.

General screenings

“Well put together packages.” (Justin Hollingshead, Grande Prairie, The Moment When)

“Love that this cultural event is in GP.” (Mike Harris, Grande Prairie, Here Now & Hereafter)

“Winters in GP are long. I get through March and April reminding myself that the Reel Shorts are just around the corner. Thank you for this cultural community event bringing the world to GP.” (Marcia Walker, Grande Prairie, World of Wonder)

“Everything was excellent.” (Lisa Peters, County of Grande Prairie, Lost & Found)

“We love the festival.” (Vicki Standring, Sexsmith, Crime & Punishment)

“Love all of the foreign films.” (Erica Fisher, Grande Prairie, Best of the Fest)

“Frantic48 is awesome! Both to watch and participate in.” (Julia Shalagan, County of Grande Prairie, Frantic48)

Filmmaker Insights

“Great! Makes you think!” (Richard Podsada, Grande Prairie, Storytelling Within a Virtual Reality Environment)

“Very informative. Hands-on experience in a workshop – excellent!” (Chad Hauser, Grande Prairie, Anatomy of a Scene: Directing Actors by Blocking to the Camera)

School screenings

More than 2,400 students and their teachers attended screenings at our 2017 fest and 93% of the 46 questionnaires received from these teachers rated their film package as great (67%) or good (26%). All four questionnaires received from teachers whose students participated in the Anatomy of a Scene workshop at their school or who had filmmakers visit their classes rated it as great (75%) or good (25%). The following is a small sample of the comments we received.

Critter Tales (Gr 1-3)

Penson School
Great variety of shows! The kids really enjoyed the selections this year! (Megan Hutchison, Grade 1 Teacher)

St. Mary’s Catholic School, Sexsmith
It was great! The price is reasonable! I love that there’s nothing like it in the region! It’s unique and many students probably wouldn’t go if we didn’t take them. I like that the movies are short, so it keeps their attention the whole time, very engaging! And something totally different to experience. (Danielle Williams, Grade 1 Teacher)

Harry Balfour School
The selection was amazing!! (Collette Simpson, Grade 3 Teacher)

World of Wonder (Gr 4-6)

Penson School
Great opportunity for kids to experience an enrichment activity! (Maryanne Buck, Grade 5&6 LA Teacher)

Harry Balfour School
Loved the package and the variety of films! The students absolutely loved it. Having gone for so many years, my reasons for going are:

  1. It is meaningful. The students are going to get something out of this field trip that will stay with them, unlike perhaps a trip to the swimming pool. It allows for further discussion afterwards and, as a teacher, we can tie it to educational outcomes by having those discussions afterwards.
  2. It’s unique. There’s nothing else like it in our city.
  3. It’s easy. Unlike many field trips that require waivers, high parent volunteer to student ratios or a lot of teacher involvement, this one literally only requires us to come sit somewhere and enjoy a film.
  4. It’s a level playing field. As a teacher, I’m always aware of field trips that highlight any inequalities between students. A trip to the skating rink will easily highlight the students who have parents who can afford skates/lessons for their children and those kids who have to borrow skates from a neighbour or friend (this is why I don’t take my kids skating anymore). It also levels the playing field academically. Every student enjoys watching films. In previous years, it was a bit challenging as I always have a few students who cannot read so subtitled films were lost on them. This year, all my students enjoyed the films and there wasn’t a disparity between students who enjoyed the trip and those who struggled.

(Brandy Vigen, Grade 5 Teacher)

Parkside Montessori
Love the variety of styles, languages and themes. So much to talk about. The key element for being able to do field trips these days is the connection to the curriculum. If there isn’t a strong curricular connection, we are not going to be able to do the field trip. It’s that simple.

  1. In my opinion, the film festival provides a world class cultural experience for students. It allows them to see the world through so many different lenses which touches on many curricular areas – Social Studies, Language Arts, Health, Art & Music. The discussions and projects that come out of this experience are always amazing. These films show them the world and in turn make their own worlds just a little bit larger.
  2. The second key element is the price point. Reality is that schools have next to no budget for field trips. The film festival is very affordable and is something that can be budgeted and planned for in advance. For a school like ours, the cost and location are a factor. We did a cost-share this year with students (they paid $2 each and the school covered the rest). We also saved by walking as a round-trip bus ride is almost $200.
  3. I’ve been a long-time advocate in the schools I’ve worked in for the educational and cultural value of the film festival. I think it’s really important that students have these types of opportunities. There are many administrators that hold some misconceptions as to what exactly is the content of the film packages. I’ve heard it referred to as a short film equivalent to an afternoon at the Cineplex. So untrue! There hasn’t been a year where I have felt that the films didn’t provide a curricular connection.
  4. It’s a fantastic festival that we are very fortunate to have here in GP. It has been a highlight of my students’ school year for the past 6 years.

(Terra Shewchuk, Vice Principal)

Lost & Found (Gr 6-9)

Alexander Forbes School
Excellent variety of films (length and content). (Kara Sewall, Grade 7/8 Drama Teacher)

Harry Balfour School
My school has a very strong emphasis on using field trips that connect strongly to student learning and outcomes so that my kids really enjoyed it was secondary to the fact I could actually use the films with my LA program. Most important was having a strong theme that ties the selected films together, though varied approaches are taken within each theme/film. Other reasons for attending:

  1. I love that teachers are in on the planning AND there is a warning about the different rating system, content, etc all on the website prior to us booking.
  2. Classroom discussion is a HUGE part of the reason I wanted my kids to attend this year. I love the essence of the short film, they only have 6-10 minutes to really get the message across, use symbolism, evoke emotion. I have not done a traditional film study in my class this year because I always worry about instructional time, etc. Having a cohesive theme for the shorts, in this case ‘Lost & Found’, I can provide my kids with a lot of choice, while only spending one afternoon to view so many films. Also because the movies are so short, the content is so valuable to the message. Having a strong theme is crucial to me wanting to bring kids again. We can compare and contrast, we can talk about symbolism, etc. Many of my students loved Bus Story too, tied into Carpe Diem, and they can use the lessons across many writing activities.
  3. The medium of film is very comfortable for most kids, they love sharing their take on each, their likes/dislikes, little parts they think no one else noticed, etc.
  4. The teachers at my school who attend rave about it.

(Jamie Tillotson, Grade 7 LA Teacher)

Riverstone Public School
It was a great screening today – my students were very excited about it! I love the exposure that students get to short films (they primarily only really have experience with Hollywood length films) and I have found that using them in my Film Studies class and having them attend the Reel Shorts gives them an exposure they wouldn’t otherwise have. (Angela Nilsson, Film Studies 7/8 Teacher)

Ecole St. Gerard/St. Catherine Catholic School
This was an amazing selection of short films. There was a good range of humorous to serious with a nice blend of animation and live action. I am completely satisfied with the curricular connections. We had a great deal of discussion both during and after the event. Reel Shorts provides a fantastic opportunity to enrich the curriculum with variety and the theme was perfect for the grade. Without any prompting, many made connections to the novels and other readings from class. We came away with a variety of writing prompts that the students were excited about. They enjoyed trying to support their choice for favourite film and were curious as to why others chose different films. The film selections are fantastic! (Donna de Bruin, ELA Teacher)

At Risk (Gr 9-12 Social Studies) and Fateful Decision (Gr 9-12 English/Languages

Hines Creek Composite School
I think the festival is great. I like the exposure to culture and political issues that we are sheltered from in our small town. Many of our students don’t travel beyond a 200 km radius of their home so they see more of the same wherever they go. While many of the films are confusing for them, through conversation we are able to bring to light some of the issues and help broaden their ideas. (Sherri MacDowall, Principal)

Eaglesham School
AWESOME!! We had an absolutely amazing day … all three packages were a perfect blend of quality films which will allow hours of discussion for my students! Major Kudos to all those involved in the selection process … I know how difficult a task that must be!! Again, thank you for all you do in creating this opportunity for my students! Ultimately, as an LA teacher, I honestly see this as the most valuable resource/event/activity for the Visual Literacy portion of our curriculum, but it is much more than that. It is an opportunity to discuss different ideas, issues, concerns, etc. … discussions which are naturally generated by the films. This generation gets most of its information from screens … phones, electronics, TV’s, and this kind of activity helps them become more of a ‘thinking’ audience. Other reasons for attending:

  1. The price is fantastic!! If we didn’t live so far and had more money, I would take ALL students from grades 3 to 12 to this event.
  2. I send a cautionary Permission Slip making sure the parents are aware that these films have been carefully vetted but there is always a chance that some material may be of mature content. They are fine with this. As long as we are up front and transparent, this is not an issue. (by the way: your selection crew does an AMAZING job!!!)
  3. It is unique … But for me it fits so perfectly into the Visual Literacy component of LA. The number one reason I take students and promote this event to every teacher I speak with is it is the best way to immerse students in Film.
  4. Film Study is a major component of my LA classes, and I have a Grade 9 Media class combined with a Senior Film Study course, so this festival is an integral part of my teaching.

(Nancy Fontaine, Grade 10-12 LA Teacher)

St. Mary’s Catholic School, Sexsmith
We love “what you do” and plan to bring our students every year. It is an amazing experience for our kids. Also important to me:

  1. Many students and teachers are engaging students in creating short films and videos for classroom projects and assignments so going to the film fest is an excellent experience to help students and teachers think about dramas and documentaries and how they can be analysed and created to communicate important issues in our world today.
  2. Many of my students would not experience the short film genre much as they primarily view feature films, usually the Hollywood versions of the entertainment variety – and not the real life issues variety – which is the kind that I love and want my students to watch more of.

(Barbara London, Grade 12 Teacher)

Cinema Francophone (Gr 9-12 French)

Peace Wapiti Academy
Great choice of films. This year’s package was truly awesome. (Sheryl Deimert, Grade 9-12 French Teacher)

Anatomy of a Scene workshop

St. Mary’s Catholic School, Sexsmith
Scott Belyea got through lots of material that was related to the filmmaking workshop topic (blocking and filmmaking in general). Really communicated the meaning and the importance of blocking (I actually get what it means now). I took some notes to help me plan a Short Film assignment for my students. Hearing the language of filmmaking from a filmmaker was also valuable to me. I think the workshop was great. (Barbara London, Grade 12 Teacher)

Filmmaker Class Visits

Grande Prairie Composite High School
Leah Johnston was entertaining and informative. Leah interacted well with the students – engaged and receptive. (Devon Whipple, Grade 9-12 Drama, Film Studies, and English Teacher)

Peace Wapiti Academy
Paul Bailey answered all questions and he discussed both the writing and acting aspects which was tailored to both classes and kept all students interested. He was very enjoyable and the content was perfect. Thanks! (Darcy Nielsen, ELA Teacher)


“I absolutely loved the people organising the event, and the passion they shared for film, filmmaking, and making it accessible in what I consider to be a relatively remote area of Canada, where the art might not normally reach. Projects like the Frantic48 are a safe environment for first time and aspiring directors to experiment and I think this is a great opportunity. The Live Theatre and the Douglas J. Cardinal building are fantastic venues too. The vast majority of the films were of outstanding quality. Plus, I really appreciated getting honest feedback from the judges. The workshops are a great idea and I loved going to and being part of them. Oh, and I have my signed poster sitting on the mantelpiece with pride.” (Paul Bailey, Wiltshire, England, Writer/Producer/Actor of The Last One)

“So rare to actually see any money off of a short. I think I speak for all the struggling filmmakers out there when I say, you guys are awesome! Honored to have been a part of the festival and the award is just frosting on the cake! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! It was a pleasure being part of your rad program.” (Ryan Spindell, Los Angeles, USA, Writer/Director of The Babysitter Murders which won the Audience Choice Award)