Canadian Film Fest 2012: Shorts

After a three-year hiatus, the Canadian Film Fest returns from March 28–31 at the Royal Cinema. Featuring a homegrown lineup of 9 fea­tures and 10 shorts, this year’s edi­tion is a wel­come return for fest­ival dir­ector Bern Euler. “I am over­joyed to be back on the fest­ival cir­cuit,” said Euler. “Torontonians’ appet­ite for cinema has grown and become even more soph­ist­ic­ated over the past four years.”

Despite the pres­ence of some fairly high-pro­file fea­tures (includ­ing fest­ival opener Cloudburst from dir­ector Thom Fitzgerald), I’ve decided to focus my atten­tion on a few of the short films. You can see these films as part of the shorts pro­gram on Saturday March 31st at 1pm, with one excep­tion. Sci-fi short My Loss, Your Gain will screen ahead of the fea­ture Below Zero on Thursday March 29th at 9:55pm. You can check out trail­ers for some of the films on the festival’s YouTube chan­nel.

Long Branch

Long Branch (Directors: Dane Clark and Linsey Stewart, 14 minutes)

On a cold winter’s night, Lynn’s quest for a one-night stand is com­plic­ated when the guy she goes home with lives two hours away via pub­lic transit. A poten­tial one-note com­edy turns out to be unex­pec­tedly tender, as well as lov­ingly shot. My favour­ite of the shorts by a long way.

Onion Skin

Onion Skin (Director: Joseph Procopio, 11 minutes)

A high school stu­dent turns heads when he decides to avoid text-mes­saging a girl in this com­edy-turned-romance about the power of let­ter writ­ing. Directed by 16-year-old Joseph Procopio, the film cer­tainly bears wit­ness to a pre­co­cious tal­ent, but I found the high-concept premise a bit hard to swal­low. It strains cred­ib­il­ity when the girl’s friends are act­ively hos­tile to the idea of receiv­ing love notes on paper, like the film was set in 2111 rather than 2011, but by the end, Procopia and his young leads man­age to cre­ate a genu­ine sense of romantic dis­cov­ery.

Everybody Wing Chun Tonight

Everybody Wing Chun Tonight (Director: Karen Suzuki, 3 minutes)

Legend has it that Wing Chun Kung Fu was developed by a woman in China dur­ing the Ming Dynasty. Though it does not rely on strength, it can be bru­tal in its effi­ciency. The instincts that are developed through its study gives great con­fid­ence to its prac­ti­tion­ers to the point that fight­ing may not be neces­sary. It becomes a way of being. A short but highly-cho­reo­graphed action film that impresses tech­nic­ally but has no real char­ac­ters or story.

Rosie Takes the Train

Rosie Takes the Train (Director: Stephen Scott, 10 minutes)

In 1930, a young girl named Rosie boards a train and befriends a kind yet mys­ter­i­ous con­ductor. What unfolds is the jour­ney of a life­time as Rosie speeds toward an unknown des­tin­a­tion exper­i­en­cing love, loss, fear and ulti­mate cour­age along the way. Impressively cast (Linda Kash and Patrick McKenna will be famil­iar to many Canadians) and with an eye for period detail, this crowd-pleas­ing fable about our “jour­ney through life” lays the meta­phors on a little thick for me.

My Loss, Your Gain

My Loss, Your Gain (Director: Elli Raynai, 4 minutes)

A scientist’s obses­sion with exper­i­ment­a­tion leads him to the edge of mad­ness as one of his abor­ted fail­ures pushes him past the lim­its of his own ima­gin­a­tion. Stylish but nar­rat­ively con­fus­ing, with an end­ing that left me scratch­ing my head.

The Perfect Vacuum

The Perfect Vacuum (Director: Alana Cymerman, 6 minutes)

Opera singer Mona left her war-torn home­land and vowed never to sing again. Now she is vis­ited by her lonely neigh­bours who seek an intim­ate con­nec­tion in reg­u­lar “vacuum dances.” From the punny title to the heavy-handed voi­ceover, this left me a bit cold, des­pite the pres­ence of song and dance.

Sonata for Christian

Sonata for Christian (Director: Stéphane Oystryck, 8 minutes)

Christian is a young sub­urban boy who learns more about him­self than he expects when a risky rela­tion­ship between him and his piano teacher begins to bloom. Despite clumsy dia­logue, this short film is able to cre­ate a tan­gible mood of sexual long­ing between its main char­ac­ters.

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