A Minute to Win It

60-Second Film Festival Reaches 6th Year in Montreal

Graphic Graeme Shorten Adams

Short films are a staple of modern film festivals, but M60, “Montreal’s littlest festival,” celebrates the art of short-shorts—films that clock in at one minute or less.

M60 has been presenting 60-second films for six years now, each with a different theme that is “broad enough so we get as many interpretations as possible,” says Toby Harper, one of the founders of M60.

The theme for this year’s festival—set to be its biggest edition to date—is revenge. Harper slyly describes this year’s edition as “our least family-friendly.”

The 98-film program is divided into four nights and the screenings are hosted at Cinema Excentris, one of the pillars of the art-house cinema community of Montreal.

Despite being thrust into marginality by its unusual format, M60 sends a thoughtful and powerful message on the evolution of cinema—on the form itself, but also on the film theatre as an “agora,” a social space where discussions fuse with ideas, creating a shared experience.

About the non-competitive nature of the event, Harper said, “People already take the risk of creating something and being confronted by direct feedback.”

A unique feature of M60 is the freedom it allows its filmmakers, excluding the time constraint. There were 98 films submitted this year, all of which will be screened.

None of them have been altered in any way—viewers will see the purest expression of the artist’s ambitions onscreen.

“There’s no real censor or jury,” said Harper.

The mix of professional award-winning directors with first-time filmmakers in the same program creates a level playing field for all of the artists’ works.

For the most part, M60 is a festival made by the people, for the people.

“You are sitting with the people that made the films,” Harper said.

The four different programs are edited so that the films speak to one another in a way that is entertaining and logical for the spectators and creators.

With the immense popularity of YouTube and apps like Vine, it’s possible M60 could be the future of cinema.

“Cinema is an industry and an art that is evolving, so it’s fun to watch and be a part of it,” Harper said.

M60: Montreal 60 Second Film Festival // Sept. 19 – Sept. 22 // Cinema Excentris (3536 St. Laurent Blvd.) // 9 p.m. // $8