Canadian Film Fest 2012: Shorts

by James McNally on March 22, 2012

in Film Festivals,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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