Worldwide Short Film Festival 2011 Opening Night Gala

Last night was the Opening Night Gala of the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival. This annual celebration of short film will feature 275 films in 33 programs over the next five days, and will include events at Yonge-Dundas Square as well as the return of their roaming “Shorts Bus.”

As is their custom, the organizers of the 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.

  • Bukowski (8 minutes, Netherlands, Director: Daan Bakker): A boy on holiday with his family convinces the hotel staff that he is the hard-bitten American writer Charles Bukowski. A one-note joke that is not without its charms. (7/10)
  • West of the Moon (10 minutes, USA, Director: Brent Bonacorso): A nonsensical plot about remembering a dream or something is the whisker-thin narrative framework on which the director hangs his considerable skills as a visual stylist. The very definition of a calling-card short, I found it a little “show-offy” for my taste, although I have no doubt that Mr. Bonacorso will soon be gainfully employed on much larger projects. (7/10)
  • Big Bang Big Boom (10 minutes, Italy, Director: Blu): Truly inspired. A work of graffiti animation that must have taken a very long time to create, encompassing an entire cityscape with the story of the universe’s beginnings from Big Bang to human civilization. Wildly ambitious and insanely labour-intensive, this didn’t feel as nakedly ambitious as West of the Moon simply because this sort of skill doesn’t seem to be quite as marketable. (9/10) (Note: The image above is from this short.)
  • Lipsett Diaries (14 minutes, Canada, Director: Theodore Ushev): An animated mixture of documentary and fiction, exploring the troubled life of Montreal-born experimental filmmaker Arthur Lipsett who took his own life in 1986. Dark and intense, it did succeed in making me curious about Lipsett’s life and work, although it can make for difficult viewing. (8/10)
  • Na Wewe (You Too) (19 minutes, Belgium/Burundi, Director: Ivan Goldschmidt): In 1994, a busload of Burundians is stopped by Hutu soldiers and ordered to separate into two groups: Hutus and “Tutsi cockroaches.” An absurd scenario follows which is played mostly for laughs. The sense of menace seems incongruous with the tone the director is trying to maintain, and the ending is just preachy. Issues of race are complicated, we get it. Smug and a bit silly. (6/10)
  • The Lost Thing (15 minutes, Australia, Directors: Andrew Ruhemann, Shaun Tan): A boy finds a strange creature on the beach and tries to return it to where it belongs. Wonderfully unique animation but I found the resolution of the story terribly depressing. Based on the book by Shaun Tan, The Lost Thing won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short. (7/10)

Stay tuned for more reviews as the fest continues to June 5th. Tickets are available online, at the Cumberland Terrace box office location, and at each venue.

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