As stories of gun violence become more commonplace in today’s news, a short film made in Ontario is drawing praise for shedding light on how such tragedies could happen.
Game, a short film written and directed by Toronto resident Joy Webster, won Best Short Film at the Canadian Film Fest on March 24.
Those at Humber College and in the Etobicoke area can see the film at the Lakeshorts Film Festival.
The film will screen among others on April 20 at The Assembly Hall by Humber College’s Lakeshore campus.
The film also picked up a jury award at the festival, with child actor Jack Fulton winning Best Actor in a Short Film.
“We screened alongside some really amazing short films,” Webster said. “I was in total shock when they called Game. It was really, really an amazing surprise.
“I’m super proud of our entire team for pulling it off,” she said.
The Canadian Film Fest wasn’t the first showing the film has had. Webster and Game’s producer Lucas Ford have travelled to film festivals across North America where their film has played.
“We’ve played at over 16 right now, and have a few more on the go,” Ford said.
Game first screened internationally at the San Diego International Film Festival in October 2017. It has since played at festivals in Omaha, Neb., and Fort Myers, Fla., among others.
It will also be screened at the Yorkton Film Festival, North America’s longest running film festival, where it has been nominated for two Golden Sheaf awards.
The accolades at the Canadian Film Fest are the film’s biggest yet.
“To win the actual Best Short Film overall, this was our first big one,” Ford said.
The 14-minute short film stars child actor Jack Fulton as a young boy coping with the death of his mother. All the while, the world around him is unforgiving and cold, with his sister Molly the cause of much of his misery.
The film tackles issues of loss, neglect, abuse, and gun violence all in its short run time. Webster says she was inspired to make the film after hearing a story of real-life gun violence.
“I was waiting for the subway in Toronto…the news screens they have, there was a headline that an 11-year-old boy shoots and kills his eight-year-old neighbour,” Webster said.
“I started thinking about how could something like that happen, and what were these kids’ lives like before this horrible tragedy happened,” she said.
By researching child-related gun violence in the United States, where the tragedy occurred, Webster wrote her first draft in 2015. Ford, who met Webster at Ryerson University and previously worked with Webster on the short film In the Weeds, joined her.
“It’s an artistic point of view on what children would go through to be in a position that they would actually have access to a weapon or a gun, and what would drive them to be in a situation like in that unfortunate real event,” Ford said.
“I wish it wasn’t so relevant right now, but it is,” she said. “A conversation needs to be had,” she said.
Ford echoed her sentiments on the film’s current topical relevance.
“It’s a sad truth, but it’s becoming more of a relevant film to view,” he said.