BITS 2020: Our Review of ‘Emerging Screams’

Posted in BITS 2020, Festival Coverage, What's Streaming? by - November 04, 2020

Sorry this is late, yesterday was a busy day, but anyway, here’s BITS’ Emerging Shorts program. This shorts program features people sitting in the director’s chair for the first time.

The first person to do so in this program is Nick Kewin who brings us Letting Go. It features a man (Shomari Downer) walking around his house. I’m not the biggest fan of this short’s ‘dead wife’ premise.

The writing in Hugo Chetelat’s Rewind, however, is much better. Here, a boy (Anthony Riendeau) discovers that a cassette player takes him back to a time or a universe where his grandfather isn’t senile. What complements the writing is the film’s cinematography, subtly expressing bittersweet nostalgia.

To each their own, and Olympia Okonmah’s Innocence isn’t necessarily to my taste neither. A man (Richard Chuang) tells a police officer or his alter ego (also Chuang) about the red stains in his hands. Wish there was more here other than the Hitchcock reference.

Josh Wood’s Down Deloro River also feels like an exercise instead of a standalone short. Here, a Canadian pre-war gold prospector visits a doctor at night. Genre films, shorts or otherwise, have these characters who make mistakes viewers wouldn’t. Looking forward to seeing Wood write deeper characters in the future.

Sometimes, directors get it mostly right during their first college try. In Christian Vetrone’s The Door Down the Hall, Paige (Keira DelBlanco) writes in her diary while a presence tempts her to explore her house. The short asks a lot when it comes to suspending disbelief, and it lands on its feet thanks to its evocative imagery.

Imagery is equally important in Roy Stein’s Too Late, which is about some office worker burning the midnight oil. Good use of color and dimension as this short rightfully attacks a lot of people’s circadian rhythms, including mine. Facts are facts, especially in animation!

Alicia Steinberger and Chao Goody Wu’s Across the Bridge shows that sometimes, children don’t need their parents. The short mixes different animation styles in telling the story of a kid playing a video game. Can she do it on her own, or will their sister come into the rescue?

The Kaw Tay Whee School Students are back, this time with Wiidza. At first, this seems like it’s just a fun excuse to put on silly costumes, play around in the snow and film that playtime. But it’s actually a retelling of a Dene story about Medicine Men turning into animals and making their fellow villagers chase them. There’s something innately macabre yet altruistic about this short. These students lean on that story’s multiple angles. This also shows the need for Indigenous children to learn and retell their stories. These stories benefit both themselves and the diverse settlers like us who they have to live with.

Lastly, Karis Malszecki’s On The Water is about a woman, Cecilia (Angela Bell), looking for her brother in cottage country. This short does a lot in expressing this dreadful idea that we can’t know everything, even if that knowledge concerns our families. What a good way to end this program!

  • Release Date: 11/3/2020
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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