This (Basically) Vancouver-Made Short is in the Quarantine International Film Festival’s Top 40

The second edition of the Quarantine International Film Festival (QIFF) gave filmmakers worldwide only a few restrictions: submissions must be under five minutes, incorporate the quote “Listen to many, but speak to few” from Hamlet, and take place all in one location. Self-diagnosed theatre nerd Boris Bilic was inspired to create a film featuring his sister, Ivana McConnell, who works as a volunteer responder at the Vancouver Crisis Centre. The siblings had just been chatting about the value of giving advice versus simply listening—Shakespeare quote, check. But shooting the film in one location was going to be tricky, considering she lives in Vancouver and he in L.A.

Bilic decided that the “location” the film would take place in was the computer screen (“like Searching or Unfriended,” he says). He conducted an interview with McConnell over Zoom, and took screen recordings of Youtube clips, internet searches and web articles to punctuate her answers. “Like most of us, I’ve been glued to my screen for most of quarantine, and was seeing a fair number of articles discussing the effects of isolation on our collective mental health,” says Bilic. In the film, called Crisis, he asks his sister how COVID-19 has impacted her work at the Crisis Centre. “It’s the first time that the people answering the phone are going through the same thing as the people on the other side of the phone,” she shares.

Besides being “locally” made and QIFF-approved, the film also touches upon the mental health struggles that have been exacerbated for many due to quarantine, and offers guidance both to those enduring and those supporting. “Often, when someone comes to us asking for help, we feel like we need to give them advice, or share our own personal experiences to fill a space—when most of the time, we just need to be there,” says Bilic. He hopes that the film will draw attention to the Crisis Centre and other spaces like it.

You can watch Crisis below or on QIFF’s Youtube channel. And if you want to learn more about the Crisis Centre, click here.