Thursday, June 2, 2011

WSFF 2011: June 1

Reviews of screenings from the 2011 CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival (WSFF), Toronto, Canada.

One Night Stand

The Short Take: These films were linked by the idea of having loved — whether in the embarrassing immediate aftermath or in the sweet nectar of memory.


I Still Love Them (Je les aime encore) (Dir: Marie-Pierre Grenier, 13 min.) What a drag it is getting old — especially for Michel, who loves to love women. This engaging documentary character sketch introduces us to a unique individual and leaves us wanting more. In the post-screening Q&A, Grenier said that a full-length treatment, using Michel to tell the story of the development of Montréal's LGBT culture, is under consideration. This was an excellent short and left me wanting to spend more time with Michel.

The Tongueling (Kielitiettyni) (Dir: Elli Vuorinen, 4 min.) The visual style of this Finnish animation brings to mind Marcel Dzama a little bit. A look at lingual relationships that veers from erotic to surreal.


The Appointment (Dir: Katrina Saville, 8 min.) A sitcom-esque treatment of perhaps the most awkward meet-cute imaginable.

Baby (Dir: Daniel Mulloy, 25 min.) The longest film in the programme, this isn't a complete flop, but doesn't really justify its length. A tale of a seduction laced with grim sadness, so I'm not sure how much of the disorienting visual tone was deliberate, including one long scene set on a bus that managed to break the plane with an out-of-focus yellow pole in the foreground in nearly every shot.

You Are So Undead (Dir: Alex Epstein, 7 min.) got about as much mileage as is possible from its satire of a certain un-named vampire franchise, earned its laughs and didn't overstay its welcome.
In Bed At 10 p.m. (Dir: Asaph Polonsky, 16 min.), a sympathetic portrait of an elderly woman looking for love, was sensitive to its characters and nicely shot but mostly made me want to read more Bukowski poems like the one that inspired its title.
Oh, Paris! (Dir: Oleksandr Shmygun, 9 min.) showed off a unique animation style — think of Terry Gilliam's Monty Python cut-outs as done by the impressionists — but was a little perfunctory.

This programme will be screened again Saturday June 4, 12:30 pm at the ROM.

Sci-Fi: Out There

The Short Take: More high production values than high-concept, this programme aimed more toward Starship Troopers than Solaris.


Dissonance (Dir: Anne Leclercq, 17 min.) With a grad school degree that leaves her qualified to flip burgers at a fast-food restaurant, Agnes feels particularly out of sync with the world around her, and soon, that untethering manifests itself in a decidedly non-metaphorical fashion. Disorienting and thought-provoking.

Pixels (Dir: Patrick Jean, 3 min.) A totally delightful look at an 8-bit apocalypse overtaking the planet. (Watch it on youtube here.)

Umbra (Dir: Malcolm Sutherland, 6 min.) More fantastical and dreamlike than sci-fi, this handmade animation managed to evoke a sense of wonder shot through with strangeness and familiarity.


Rosa (Dir: Jesús Orellana, 9 min.) Slick CGI animation that went nowhere interesting at a too-frenetic turbo speed, this felt more like a compilation of videogame cutscenes than anything else.

Tin Soldier (Dir: Pascal Alain, 5 min.) Eager to come off as a metaphor for the powerlessness of the "pawns" of war, the twist made this feel more like a third-rate Twilight Zone script.

File Under Miscellaneous (Dir: Jeff Barnaby, 7 min.) captured a fine looking Cronenberg-via-Gilliam vibe, but was totally elusive in its intent until the credits listed the un-named characters as "Indian man" and "Assimilated Man", allowing it to fall in place a little.
Artificial Paradise, Inc. (Dir: Jean-Paul Frenay, 3 min.) looked like conceptual art for a computer game but didn't go anywhere.
Peaceforce (Dir: Peter Gornstein, 19 min.), a retelling of George Orwell's Shooting an Elephant set in a post-apocalyptic near-future Europe, aims to "mean something". But splitting the difference between Lars von Trier's The Element of Crime and Banlieue 13 mostly left it feeling like high-toned eurocheeze.
Yuri Lennon’s Landing on Alpha 46 (Dir: Anthony Vouardoux, 15 min.) has a sort of stoner-ish emotional arc, veering from pseudo-profundity to deep bummer. Not a great film, it does manage one stupendous joke that makes sense within its own weird logic.

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