TIFF is presenting their list of Canada’s Top Ten Shorts, which they separated into two programs. To give the shorts justice via words, I will do the same. Their blurb for the first program shows that these shorts are genre-bending. This experimentation to me is a way to redefine what it’s like to be a Canadian. We Canadians can reach the farthest ends of the globe, and stories around the world reach our eyes as well. Some of these shorts have their flaws but they still have their merits,
Matthew Hannam is a film editor who is making his directorial debut with Paseo. It uses muted colors to depict Barcelona, which should be a criminal offense, but at least we have Sarah Gadon playing the protagonist, Alice. She’s an actor, co-writer, and producer here. And she steps up and evinces the alienation someone feels when they find themselves alone in a strange city. Hannam also gives her justice through his close-ups, letting her transform within the frame.
Next is Sofia Bohdanowicz’s mockumentary Veslemoy’s Song. This time around she switches from luminous 16mm color to scratchy vintage black and white. Audrey (Deragh Campbell) narrates about a woman with nails and we see some nails. I love nails as much as the next gay man, but her imagery is on the literal side here. Nonetheless, this is another short where its lead actress saves it. This is my first time watching Campbell, a local hero, in a film, and we’re with her on every step down a rabbit hole to find obscure female art.
TIFF follows that up with, um, what is this? In Patrick Bouchard’s The Subject, he plops a male cadaver in a gurney. The animation here comes too close to the uncanny valley until metallic Rube Goldberg machinery pops up from the man. This is an unsuccessful attempt to examine one’s own body. Next!
Things get better with Meryam Joobeur’s Brotherhood despite its deliberate pace. It also captures the pleasantly dewy aesthetics of its Tunisian countryside aesthetic. There, a couple welcome their prodigal son and his wife from Syria, fighting on Daesh’s side. The mother, Salha (Salha Nasraoui) is more welcoming to the young couple. Meanwhile, her husband Mohamed (Mohamed Graiaa) points out the bride’s burqa as a ridiculous fundamentalist anachronism. This subverts our expectations of Islam’s values, as well as presenting us with legitimate plot twists.
Lastly, TIFF shows Charlie Tyrell’s My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes. Through David Wain’s surprisingly fitting ebullient narration, Tyrell successfully uses repetition as a legitimate argumentative and storytelling strategy. He also examines him and his dad’s place in a generational cycle of abuse and coping mechanisms. And yes, he uses sex as a headline but that’s where that stops. He shows that even fathers have a sexual side, duh. But he isn’t reductive in defining his dad through one part of his collection of weird stuff. This short makes a poignant end, a high note on an otherwise mixed program.
- Genre: documentary, Drama
- Release Date: 1/27/2018
- Directed by: Charlie Tyrell, Matthew Hannam, Meryam Joobeur, Patrick Bouchard, Sofia Bohdanowicz
- Starring: Deragh Campbell, Mohamed Graiaa, Sarah Gadon
- Produced by: Calvin Thomas, Habib Attia, Julie Baldassi, Sarah Gadon
- Written by: Charlie Tyrell, Meryam Joobeur, Patrick Bouchard, Sarah Gadon
- Studio: Cinétéléfilms