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.
El Adios & the bacon film sound really interesting, I looked up the trailers 😊
Yes, I hope the bacon one becomes accessible now that I’ve chatted it up! They’re all worthy though, and I think it’s such a cool way to see what a film maker can do.
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Bacon and Gods wrath sounds excellent
Right? And it’s less than 10 minutes. It really distills her thoughts and fears. She’s very personable, and it’s neat the way the film maker experimented with different styles of animation that really juxtapose nicely with a wise 90 year old woman. I’d love to hear more from her!
They all sound like worthy projects, but I’m intrigued by the Michael Cera short. I don’t watch much regular television, so I haven’t seen much of his work since Juno. Happy you had a great time in Toronto. Must have been beautiful this time of year.
It wasn’t. It rained the whole time!
Michael Cera is always solid. I was blown away by other actors who were unknown to me – particularly the lead actresses in Boxing, and in El Adios.
It’s always raining in the wrong places! I’ll keep my eye out for Boxing and El Adios.
Glad you were able to catch up with the program. I found That Dog felt more felt like a sitcom pilot at times. It was amusing, but did not always come together for me.
Good point. I definitely liked the online content and hope TIFF will try to offer more like this in the future.
Bacon & God’s Wrath sounds interesting, but The Ballad of Immortal Joe sounds right up my street. Reckon I really need to see that …
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