I was disappointed not to be able to fit in a Short Program while at the Toronto International Film Festival. The festival allows us to see many movies at once – movies that will go on to big box office success, movies that I’ve dreamt about since reading the book, movies from other countries and cultures that I wouldn’t normally be exposed to – but it also allows us an introduction to new and emerging film makers, many of these through short films. So while I didn’t get to see this at TIFF itself, TIFF introduced a new concept this year where you could buy a ticket to stream the program online, and then watch a Q&A session afterward with some of the directors (they call it round-table but we all know that table’s a rectangle, bitch).
The moderator suggested that 500 of their new best friends would be watching this short cuts program via vimeo, which is true. To all of the film makers: hello! We are so happy to watch and support. To masturbation and carbs: salut! I am watching, not because I wasn’t at TIFF (I was and am and will be) but because this is an experiment in offering programming via streaming that I was excited to be part of. It’s giving people the chance to bring TIFF into their living rooms, should they so choose, and for those of us at TIFF to bring it into our hotel rooms (god, how I’ve spent many long lineups dreaming of just that) t round out our schedules.
The short film selection included:
Boxing – directed by Grayson Moore and Aidan Shipley (of Canada)
A woman returns to her beginner’s boxing class after a tragic accident leaves her a widow. An overeager sympathizer becomes the vessel of her misplaced grief. Extremely well acted and implying a larger story than the one we’re told, this film is immediately bracing and interesting.
“You have to whisper metaphor” – Grayson Moore, on keeping their vague title, Boxing
The Ballad of Immortal Joe – directed by Hector Herrera (of Canada)
This animated short tells the cowboy poetry of Robert W. Service with really beautiful, folksy, unique animation and a catchy score by The Sadies. Sean couldn’t help but declare this one his favourite. Only six minutes long, it still tells the rich story of a gun-slinger, his ill-fated love, and the curse of his immortality.
“Everything you do is a self-portrait” – Hector Herrera, on how much his film represents his body of work.
Deszcz (Rain) – directed by Malina Maria Mackiewicz (of Australia)
A prisoner receives a visit from his mistress, who has told their son that he is already dead. If this isn’t actually true, it will be some day, any day, possibly tomorrow. A film school project with the parameters: 1 location, 2 actors, 3 minutes, Mackiewicz tells a fascinating story.
“You have to make your mistakes in a much more expensive and dangerous environment.” – Mackiewicz, on not going to film school
Kokom – directed by Kevin Papatie (of Canada)
A tribute to his grandmother, Papatie presents the story of the Anicinape people as a journey beginning and ending with resilience.
Dream The Other – directed by Abril Schmucler Iñiguez (of Mexico)
Diego dreams of another man’s life – his home, his family, every detail more interesting than his own humdrum life. The more he dreams, the more his own reality seems to transform and take on new meaning.
Bacon & God’s Wrath – directed by Sol Friedman (of Canada)
This is a mixed-media documentary that tells the story of 90 year old Razie Brownstone and how she’s about to eat bacon for the first time. Having kept kosher her whole life, often as a tribute to her parents and her beliefs, Razie discovered “The Google” 2 years ago, and its magic ability to guess the end of her sentences. Knowing that so many others had asked the very same questions that she’d struggled with, especially about faith, gave her a greater feeling of “connectedness” than she’d ever gotten at synagogue. The film is as experimental as Razie and you can tell by this long paragraph devoted to just 9 minutes of film that I found it entertaining and enlightening.
“Go out and meet other filmmakers…you learn a lot from engaging with othe pople.” – Sol Friedman’s advice to his younger self
El Adiós – directed by Clara Roquet (of Spain)
A servant is lying her elderly client to rest – gently dressing the body while also preparing food for the funeral and caring for the grieving mother and granddaughter. All of her duties complete, she finally dresses herself for the funeral – and what happens broke my heart.
The Call – directed by Zamo Mkhwanazi (of South Africa)
A taxi driver finds out that the prostitute he’s been seeing is pregnant with his child. What does that mean to him? Be with her? Change her ways? Abort? Courtney does it justice over at Cinema Axis.
That Dog – directed by Nick Thorburn (of USA)
I’m struggling to describe this one. Michael Cera and Tim Heidecker play these sleazy guys who house-sit for a buddy and wreak havoc in his apartment complex.
Thorburn on the joke of his title, That Dog: “A dog being either a literal canine or a kind of terrible person.”
I’m so glad I got to see these. A short film is a snap shot worth savoring. I hope you might discover these yourselves, and that you might recommend some of your own favourites.