The first set of movies making up Canada’s Top Ten Shorts explores the world around us. The second half of that list, which TIFF is showing in a separate program, do that better. The festival describes these films as bold and it more than meets that description. This second program has wall to wall hits that would fit into anyone’s top 15 films of the year. Length doesn’t matter.
Jeremy Comte’s Fauve almost made my top ten but it did make the Academy’s list. Here, two boys (Felix Grenier and Alexander Perreault) play a regular game of chicken that instantly becomes dangerous. And we feel every bit of that palpable danger through Grenier and Perreault’s performances. Comte, doing his part, captures an environment that is accessibly expansive and where the natural and the artificial coexist.
Fauve is a tough act to follow, yet Malena Szlam Altiplano succeeds in doing so. Here she shows that the landscapes between the border of Argentina and Chile doesn’t have or need context. She shoots South America’s diverse, jagged mountains while also taking time to show us the sky in all its purity. She also superimposes images, reminds us of the camera and its agility.
Then there’s Guy Maddin and the Johnsons’ Accidence. It zooms out from a man wearing bandages on his face (Jon’Nathon Stebbe) to the building where he lives. This will divide audiences, some of whom might validly point out its lack of focus. But this is a Boschian technical masterwork. Here, the directors flesh out the different scenarios of each characters’ lives in a short span of time.
There’s also Biidaaban: The Dawn Comes, where director Amanda Strong uses stop motion animation. Here, Strong tells the story of a punk-y First Nations activist. She’s not alone though, as a millennia old shape shifter helps her with an urban harvesting program. Strong’s pays attention to the details here. These details, even something like a bookshelf on a wall, tell the audience of the potential of broken things.
Lastly, there’s Ariane Louis-Seize’s Little Waves which, at first, doesn’t seem like it has enough to be a short film. It’s about the ambivalence of a girl, Amelie (Alexandra Sicard). She finds that her favorite cousin (Jules Roy Sicotte) has a girlfriend who is more attractive than she is. Her predicament is surprisingly relate-able, and Louis-Seize sublimates Amelie’s feelings through fantasy, light, space, and soft focus close-ups.
- Genre: Animation, Drama, fantasy, Mystery
- Release Date: 1/27/2019
- Directed by: Amanda Strong, Ariane Louis-Seize, Evan Johnson, Guy Maddin, Jérémy Comte, Malena Szlam
- Starring: Alexandra Sicard, Alexandre Perreault, Félix Grenier, Jon'Nathon Stebbe, Jules Roy Sicotte
- Produced by: Amanda Strong, Evren Boisjoli, Jeanne-Marie Poulain, Maria Gracia Turgeon, Terrance Azzuolo
- Written by: Amanda Strong, Ariane Louis-Seize, Bracken Hanuse Corlett, Evan Johnson, Guy Maddin, Jérémy Comte
- Studio: Achromatic Media, Art et essai, Julijette, Spotted Fawn Productions