Hugh Dillon's short film 'Issues' to screen at TIFF

Hugh Dillon's short film 'Issues' to screen at TIFF
Hugh Dillon stars as an angst-filled clown in 'Issues.'
by: Sheri Block

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When Hugh Dillon first had the idea of making a short film about an angst-filled clown, he never dreamed it would later make its premiere at one of the most important film festivals in the world.

"It's just an exceptional opportunity," says Dillon, former Headstones front man and actor on CTV's police drama "Flashpoint."

"It feels great because I work with people I really care about so it feels like a real team effort."

"Issues" is one of 11 Bravo!FACT-funded short films that will be screened at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

Dillon plays a clown past his prime who visits his psychiatrist (newcomer Steven Stack) for some guidance. What ensues is a hilarious, albeit unconventional therapy session.

"I like hyper surrealism so I just felt it was an interesting way to talk and to tell a story… I wanted to have a bit of humour but also a bit of an edge," he says.

Dillon, who wrote and co-directed the film, enlisted the help of fellow "Flashpoint" co-star Enrico Colantoni to co-direct and also used the production team from the show.

"This is a great way for me to get into filmmaking because I just feel more comfortable and safer with people that I know well and who happen to be crew members."

Dillon says his film would never have been made without the support of Bravo!FACT and he owes a huge "debt of gratitude" to the program.

Bravo!FACT (Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent) was developed in 1995 by Bravo! to help fund Canadian short films and videos. Over the past 13 years, 68 Bravo!FACT-funded films have made their debut at TIFF.

This year, 11 more short films, with subject matter that ranges from cabbage-patch orphans to yodelling farmers, have been chosen amongst hundreds of other submissions and Bravo!FACT executive director Judy Gladstone couldn't be more thrilled.

"The (films) cover a huge range of subjects and styles and so obviously it's very, very exciting," says Gladstone.

"We sit and watch the filmmakers who are on this ride now, the world premiere of their work is at this big film festival, so they're all excited (as well)."

As well as "Issues," the selections, which feature Canadian actors such as Jessica Paré, Lisa Ray and Liane Balaban, include "Sorry Rabbi" (Mark Slutsky), "Up in Cottage Country" (Simon Ennis), "Little Theatres: Homage to the Mineral of Cabbage" (Stephanie Dudley), "The Yodeling Farmer" (John Scoles, Mike Maryniuk), "Tabula Rasa" (Matthew Rankin), "Patch Town" (Craig Goodwill), "Hidden Driveway" (Sarah Goodman), "We Ate the Children Last" (Andrew Cividino), "Good Boy" (Isaac Cravit) and "Something Red" (Ilana Frank).

"We have narrative storytelling, very artistic stop-motion animation and we have works that I think are well-defined as experimental filmmaking… They each have something special about them," says Gladstone.

Gladstone says she has seen many first-time filmmakers get their start by making a short film and many of whom make repeat appearances at TIFF.

"To see somebody young and see the quality of their work growing and that it's being recognized, all that's very exciting, and at the same time to see somebody (like Hugh Dillon) who already has a very successful career… and is now embarking on a film because it was another artistic medium he really did want to explore."

"Good Boy," "Hidden Driveway" and "Something Red" will be shown before feature films while the remaining titles will be screened as part of the Short Cuts Canada program. Visit for screening times.

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