September 10th – September 20th Toronto International Film Festival Season
This Festival season I set a goal to watch every TIFF Short Cuts Programme. There were 11 programmes adding up to 76 short films in total. I camped out in theatre 11 at Scotiabank and spent more time there on Saturday & Sunday than in my own apartment. I’m definitely TIFF’D out, but I can’t deny that it has been my home for the last 10 days. Here, in no specific order are my favourite short films that were apart of the 11 programmes. These top 10 for me were absolutely inspiring and deserve a second look. Click on any of the links to view the trailer or website.
1. A Few Seconds by Nora El Hourch – It makes me sick to think this is Nora’s directorial debut.
I know I said all these films were in random order but this was hands down my favourite short in the entire festival.
Humorous, dark, light-hearted, real, dramatic – this film had everything. I could have easily watched a 2 hour feature following the lives of these misfits from Paris.
It contained all my deepest fears, all my nightmares. Absolutely badass.
2. Oslo’s Rose by the Sporadic Film Collective – The Sporadic Film Collective is a group of 15 talented people who got together under one name to make this remarkably simple film. They had zero credentials at the end of the film as if they were completely unified. I was extremely impressed considering this is the groups first film which was shot in only 1 day with 1 day of pre-production and another for post. The dialogue and writing in this script were so fluid it made you feel like you were sitting right there in the cafe. I will be watching for more from the Sporadic Film Collective.
3. Concerning the Bodyguard by Kasra Farahani – The satirical narrative became a little bit repetitive in this film but it made up for it with the stunning cinematography by Alexander Alexandrov. The entire thing looked like a perfume advertisement. It had it’s own unique feel to it combining the same atheistic air as James Bond, Archer or Guy Ritchie (I still can’t quite pin it down). Farahani first worked in the art department in the film industry and it is nothing short of inspiring. The little xylophone score doesn’t hurt either.
4. Bacon and God’s Wrath by Sol Friedman – This little documentary felt as precious and special as Razie, the main subject who decides to renounce her Jewish faith at 89 years old. It combines animation to create an imaginative humour, yet also peels back the layers of belief. Both are two extremely contrasting elements yet work so well in harmony. Friedman takes a journey along with Razie to try eating bacon for the very first time and it is nothing short of amazing.
5. Boxing by Grayson Moore, Aidan Shipley – This Canadian short film was extremely intense for me. All shot in one location over the course of one boxing workout. It focused mainly on character development and how we deal with loss. Both directors worked on the screenplay which was a smart decision as it blurred the boundaries between both the literal and physical meaning of the word boxing. It added the perfect amount of drama without being over kill or too obvious.
6. World Famous Gopher Hole Museum by Chelsea McMullan, Douglas Nayler – With the help of cinematographer Maya Bankovic, this crew set out to Torrington Alberta to pay homage to the World Famous Gopher Hole Museum and to the lovely people who started it. It revealed the honesty behind the main subject, who so obviously cherished her time directing the museum during the summer months. I found almost all of it hilarious in the strangest and most absurd of ways. This film doesn’t have a trailer, but be sure to look out for it if it becomes available to view.
7. Casualties of Modernity by Kent Monkman – I have been a huge fan of Kent’s paintings and films for years so it is no surprise that he’s made it on the list. His soap opera features Miss Chief Eagle Testickle (a reoccurring character played by Monkman) and follows the journey of art history through the european cannon. His undying love for romanticism was for some reason so beautiful to see on film and brought me back to my university days where I studied the shit out of this legend. I hope he never stops doing what he’s doing. Ever.
8. Nina by Halima Elkhatabi – I wish this short had a trailer attached to it because there is no way I can describe to you the sheer heart-wrenching panic and anxiety I felt during this film. At 15 minutes, it completely grasped my attention and created a tension rarely seen in films today. This film highlighted the adversities young mothers face and how the responsibility becomes unbearable for them to comprehend at times. This film made me feel something new. This film nearly killed me emotionally and I suggest you figure out how to watch it.
9. People are Becoming Clouds by Marc Katz – The opening shot (I think is in the trailer as well) seems like it would be the most frustrating and complicated thing to shoot in such a busy area (I want to say it was in a New York Subway station but I can’t remember what the director said in the Q&A). I saw a lot of films that focused on conflicts in all sorts of intimate relationships, but this one was my favourite by far. The metaphorical symbolism of the clouds were spot on in describing the foggy disconnect we may feel towards a loved one.
10. A tale of Love, Madness and Death by Mijael Bustos Gutiérrez – If you are a fan of documentary films you will love, love, LOVE this short documentary. This film celebrates the heroism involved in family and the tough responsibilities some of us have to take on. The short focuses on Mijael’s Grandfather, who has to take care of his schizophrenic son alone since his wife is terminally ill with lung cancer. Mijael’s view on mental illness is one of bravery and not of embarrassment or resentment. A wonderfully honest piece.
The greatest thing about a Shorts Cuts Programme is that you are never going to love all of the films you see, but, there always comes a moment where something for whatever reason connects with you or makes you feel something new. Filmmakers alike get to run around and experiment in a playground where limits are endless and creativity runs high. TIFF marks one of my favourite times of the year. It has been nothing but a pleasure to dive into all of the stories from around the world. I have been inspired by all of the young and old talent and can not possibly wait to do it again next year.