This year’s Canadian Film Fest, like many fests, has shorts galore. There’s one before the film starts as well as two programs. The first program is, as usual, a bag that has different genres and qualities.
In Claire, we see a bleeding woman in the grass who’s crawling towards an SUV that’s also in the grass. She does that instead of inching towards the streets for safety. She has her reasons, and it’s an unsurprising twist. The same goes for This is Not a Drill, about two bumbling assassins.
Film is such a visual medium that it makes some forget how sound works there. Take Your Mark explores that subtly, making sound travel. The same subtle approach is apparent in telling the story of a father who can’t see his son’s success as an athlete.
The relationship between father and son in Screaming on the Inside is better. Instead of athletics, they run a rug business. They’re also immigrants from Afghanistan contending with clients who may not be honest. And with that, the son also has to deal with the guilt of not following his father’s values to the letter.
Despite it being about a possessed sweater, Shane Day’s The Desolation Prize is the best horror short of the bunch. It doesn’t show the sweater as much as it shows its new victim, Bobby (M.J. Kehler) who got it from one of her sexual partners, Jake (Byron Mayberry). There’s no metaphor beyond that, and it switches from both perspectives seamlessly.
Melanie M. Jones’ Shuttlecock is my least favorite short in the program. The switches from comedy and documentary film making styles feel too self aware here. It also doesn’t help that the characters are insufferable stereotypes, which is especially true for the protagonist Winnie Callaghan (Rhona Rees), a washed up athlete.
Katrina Saville’s I Beat Up My Rapist is a better representation of what it’s like to maybe recover from the worst moment of a fictional character’s life. There’s good use of soft focus and bleached pastels to show the protagonist Eve’s (Abigail Winter) complex mind state. There’s also a depiction of a beautiful friendship here.
Regis Loisiel’s Spatss! lists Michael Madsen as one of its stars although he’s unrecognizable and thus, underused. It also leans slightly heavily on this macabre aesthetic. Otherwise, its crisp black and white cinematography is delightful, and what better way to show a throwback to the musical noir mashup about a magical dancer (Booder)?