Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Toronto After Dark Film Festival: Shorts

This review is part of my coverage of the 2011 Toronto After Dark Film Festival, taking place October 20-27 at the Toronto Underground Cinema. For more information, check out their website. For my full coverage go here.

Though I missed the shorts program, I did see a number of excellent short films screened before each feature at Toronto After Dark. Some are zany, some icky, some horrifying, some thought-provoking, some hilarious. All of them are Canadian!

"The Legend of Beaver Dam" (Jerome Sable, 2010; 12 min)
Combine camping, musical theater, heavy metal, and slasher horror and you've begun to crack the sheer awesome joy of this short. It manages to be hilariously inventive, surprisingly action-packed, and darkly shocking in just 12 minutes. I mean, jeez. That is talent, right? I hear it's been playing pretty often at Toronto events and it's screened at various national and international festivals, so hopefully everyone will get a chance to see it!
More info at its website.

"My Main Squeeze" (Chris Nash, 2011; 7 min)
A girl becomes obsessed with popping bubble wrap to the point of sexual fetish. I don't want to go into it any more. Though it's funny and imaginative, I wasn't a big fan of this one, primarily because I am squeamish and have lately been dealing with skin problems that make me sensitive to such topics. It got a very strong response from the audience, I will say that much! Nash also did the horror-themed bumpers before all the TAD films, which I enjoyed.

"Le Poids De Vude" ("The Weight of Emptiness") (Alain Fournier, 2011; 13 min)
Set within a moody apartment building with boarded-up windows, this film tests the relationship between a mysterious mother and son. The blue-tinged color scheme and vaguely sci-fi atmosphere lend the short an intensity and enticing ambiguity. The two actors give fine performances, and the effects are gorgeous. A straight-up beautiful film.
Check out the trailer on youtube.

"The Incident" (Jules Saulnier, 2011; 7 min)
This is another favorite, primarily for how all-out weird it is. An American spy wanders around Berlin with seemingly no memory or purpose, trying to figure out why Baltimore has to be destroyed. It doesn't really make any sense but it's downright funny and I loved it. The black and white visuals, the stilted, distant dialogue (reminiscent of overly-choreographed Hal Hartley conversations), and the befuddling narrative make me want to watch it again and again, because I'm sure there are details I missed.
Check out the trailer on youtube.

"Blind Spot" (Matthew Nayman, 2011; 6 min)
Stuck in traffic on his way to the airport, Steven is transferred around the airline booking agents as he tries to change his flight over the phone. He isn't aware of anything happening around him, but he has to look out the window sometime! This is a snappy, smart little short with a simple set-up and hilarious pay-off, definitely one of the most memorable shorts I saw at the festival.
Watch the film on youtube.

"Ethereal Chrysalis" (Syl Disjonk, 2010; 10 min)
Inspired by his nightmares, filmmaker Syl Disjonk puts himself in a series of horrific hellscapes. Faces rip off, entrails slither about, demons suck face, bodies are dismembered, a painting comes to life... and various other things happen. There isn't really a narrative, it's more a group of nightmarish ideas thrown into a blender and filmed in front of a green screen and set to operatic music. It's not really my thing, but some of the visuals were cool.
More info at its website.

"How to Rid Your Lover of a Negative Emotion Caused By You" (Nadia Litz, 2011; 16 min)
This is the only film (short or feature) I saw that was directed by a woman, so that's cool. (Side note: Come on, ladies, let's get more genre films into next year's Toronto After Dark!) It focuses on a couple with a strange dynamic: Whenever Sadie pisses off her boyfriend Dennis, she knocks him out, cuts out the bad emotions she caused him (they look like blueberries), stitches him back up, feeds him a lollipop, and everything's fine. But it can't last forever. This film manages to be funny, tragic, and visceral at the same time, with an inventive premise and fine performances. Great stuff!
Check out their facebook page.

"The Lady Paranorma" (Vincent Marcone, 2011; 6 min)
This is the only animated film I saw (I skipped Redline since I'd already seen it), so that was exciting for me! With a surreal aesthetic and poetic narration, the film looks at a lonely lady who hears ghosts but can't see them. Believed to be insane by the rest of the town, she tries to find a friend in the dead. It's beautifully animated and scored, and I loved the brown color palette and ethereal look of the ghosts. I couldn't help but recall Tim Burton works like "Vincent" and Corpse Bride, what with the rhyming, Goth-y character design, and askew sets, so I guess it's a bit derivative. I still dug it though!
Check out the trailer on youtube.

Well, thus ends my Toronto After Dark coverage, hopefully you've enjoyed my first foray into this Canadian genre fest. I know I did! Looking forward to next year!

2 comments:

  1. Which one is that image at the top from?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Rich: It's from "The Lady Paranorma", the only animated film I saw.

    ReplyDelete