As is their custom, the organizers of the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival dedicate the Opening Night program to award-winning shorts from around the world. This means that these films have screened lots of other places, but for me, they’re still discoveries.
- Next Floor (12 minutes, Canada, Director: Denis Villeneuve): Eerily reminiscent of the banquet scenes in Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, this stunningly art-directed short provides a nausea-inducing chronicle of a decadent banquet. The comedy is provided by the recurring event of the table crashing through the floor and the waiters rushing down stairs to the “next floor.” The dark edge came when I couldn’t stop thinking that this was a stinging indictment of consumerism and environmental degradation. (9/10)
- Skhizein (13 minutes, France, Director: Jeremy Clapin): Another one that starts out with humour and ends with tragedy. Our animated hero suffers a sense of displacement after a meteor hits the earth. He’s precisely 91cm “off” which provides the animators with plenty of sight gags. But by the end, we realize that what’s really being portrayed is a form of mental illness. Powerful. (9/10) (Note: The image above is from this short.)
- Jerrycan (14 minutes, Australia, Director: Julius Avery): A kid stands up to a bully with explosive results. Aims at the gritty realism of something like Andrea Arnold’s Wasp but a little too heavy on the metaphor and light on dialogue. (7/10)
- Coffee and Allah (14 minutes, New Zealand, Director: Sima Urale): An Ethiopian Muslim woman recently arrived in New Zealand feels out of place, but ultimately bonds with her neighbours over badminton and coffee. Too “cute” for my taste and actually seemed much longer than its 14 minute running time. (6/10)
- Gone Fishing (Director: Chris Jones): Part tall tale and part sober remembrance. Grasps at magic realism and comes up empty. Technically polished but ultimately let down by its mawkish script and manipulative music. (6/10)
- The Secret Life of Beards (6 minutes, USA, Director: Melanie Levy): This whimsical doc asks several men about their beards. For some it’s an expression of their religion, while for others it represents freedom, or just laziness. Fun but feather light. (7/10)
- Teaching the Alphabet (4 minutes, Germany, Director: Volker Schreiner): Someone recites the alphabet over clips from Hollywood movies which highlight each letter. Underwhelming. (6/10)
Stay tuned for more reviews as the fest continues to June 21st. Tickets are available online and at the venues (Cumberland and ROM theatres).