Monday, August 24, 2015

19 Shorts to Watch Out For at TIFF15

Wiktoria Szymanska's 7 Sheep
The short is one of the hardest film formats to create and every year I watch and mentor dozens of young filmmakers as they attempt it. The short forces compression of narratives and expansion of creative flexibility. It requires a clever mind, capable of taking a simple idea and both expanding and reducing its expression. A good short film can be as hard to write as a feature. The best short films reflect on one simple idea, giving us a sense of having had a quick hit of something wonderful.

Shorts are often considered the must-do first step of an emerging filmmaker but this is a limited view. Many erudite filmmakers (Nathaniel Dorsky comes to mind) never leave the short format. Youtube has proven that the short can be as commercially viable as a longer film and shorts come in sprawling unfixed sizes from 1 to 65 minutes.

Clara Roquet's El Adiós
Here are some of the most promising shorts in the TIFF15 Short Cuts program. Shorts included in Wavelengths will be considered in a separate blog post on that program. I have included the scheduled roster each film participates in, as well as links to the TIFF description pages and trailers. Enjoy!

Joris Oprins, Marieke Blaauw and Job Roggeveen (Netherlands)
A childless couple find a new beginning when a girl forgets to take her "imaginary baby" home from a restaurant with her in this animated film from the makers of A Single Life.

Short Cuts 7

4 Quarters
Ashley McKenzie (Canada)
Cape Breton is the backdrop for this look at a young couple whose capacity for relationship is tested by their environment. Trailer.
Short Cuts 11

7 Sheep
Wiktoria Szymanska (Poland)
The trailer reveals a stunningly beautiful use of black and white and a Terrence Malick-esque floating camera with voiceover, to show a lonely girl who is trying to change the world for herself and an old man.
Short Cuts 1

El Adiós
Clara Roquet (Spain)
This is one of my favourite trailers in all of TIFF 15. I love the elegant visual camera language for this story of a Spanish maid who experiences a strange liberation when her mistress dies.
Short Cuts 5

Bacon and God's Wrath 
Sol Friedman (Canada)
Religion and technology pose a challenging combination for a 90 year old woman questioning her faith. The trailer gives a good taste of Friedman's multi-media collage style.
Short Cuts 3

Beneath the Spaceship
Caroline Ingvarsson (Sweden)
Reflective but potent silences characterize the 
trailer for this story of an unusual friendship between an adolescent girl and an older man which sparks controversy in their community. 
Short Cuts 4

Alice Englert's The Boyfriend Game
The Boyfriend Game
Alice Englert (Australia)
The trailer is very engrossing for this seven minute depiction of girlfriends who become lost in an imaginary game.
Short Cuts 7

The Call
Zamo Mkhwanazi (South Africa)

A taxi driver re-examines his life after driving a prostitute who discloses that she is pregnant. 
Short Cuts 8

Clouds of Autumn
Trevor Mack and Matthew Taylor Blais (Canada)
Canada's residential schools legacy is recreated in this tale of two aboriginal siblings who are parted when one is taken away. The trailer reveals a free and grass-swept landscape flowing in union with the two girls, and then a road where only one remains.
Short Cuts 10

Le Cours de Natation (The Swimming Lesson)
Olivia Boudreau (Québec)
The teaser trailer is simply underwater swimming, but I sense there is much more in this tale of a little girl's attempt to overcome her fear and attend a swimming lesson.
Short Cuts 9

Philip Barker's Dredger
Phillip Barker (Canada)
I like the promise of the strong contrasts, cool framing and playing with time that is revealed in the trailer for this short about a seaman's stories and their impact on the captain's wife, aboard a dredger that drags the bottom of Lake Ontario.
Short Cuts 7

Following Diana
Sendiri Diana Sendiri (Indonesia)
Two shorts look at the impact on family life when a second wife or partner is added to a marriage. The (unsubtitled) trailer for Following Diana shows a hot steam room window slowly revealing the image of a troubled woman speaking to another. Even in the trailer the metaphor works. 
Short Cuts 3

Maïmouna Ducouré (France)
This is the second of two films which consider the changing dynamics of families built with more than two spouses. (See Following Diana above.) This one is told through the point of view of eight year old Aida.

Short Cuts 2

New Eyes
Hiwot Admasu Getaneh (France/UK)
Although there is no trailer for it, I am intrigued by the available images and the description of an Ethiopian girl whose view of her environment shifts as she starts to experience burgeoning sensuality.

Short Cuts 5

Maria Guskova's The Return of Erkin
The Return of Erkin
Maria Guskova (Russia)
The physical spaces between people express a metaphoric reality in the trailer for this prizewinner from Cannes.
Short Cuts 8

The Society
Osama Rasheed (Iraq)
It's not often that a film comes along of any length which portrays what it's like to be gay in Iraq. The trailer is intriguing.
Short Cuts 5

Ziya Demirel (Turkey/France)
The cultural dominance of men is examined in this study of three encounters of a teenaged girl in the course of an ordinary day. Trailer.
Short Cuts 10

Luiza Cocora's Les Vies Qui Nous Restent
(Remaining Lives)
Les Vies Qui Nous Restent (Remaining Lives)
Luiza Cocora (Québec)
A young immigrant Romanian girl newly arrived in Montreal with her mother tries to make friends in a world where technology has made people less socially available.
Short Cuts 5

Waves '98
Ely Dagher

This animated winner of the Palme d'Or for short films at Cannes earlier this year finds one man imagining a future in post-war Beirut. 
Short Cuts 9

Support short filmmakers! They are not just the auteur feature filmmakers of tomorrow; they are the auteur short filmmakers of today.