Grief, rage, and love are just a few of the emotions viewers feel while watching short films. And they’ll feel all of those feelings with the shorts from this year’s Toronto Youth Shorts. This year, the festival reaches us through their digital platform for obvious reasons. They also sorted their shorts using 11 different categories. But to make our lives easier, we’ll do it Academy style and classify them by genre. First up – documentary shorts.
Kar, by Sahar Golshan, is the first of the first, examining the relationship between the young female director and her father. He, by the way, is an Iranian-Canadian who basically did three jobs that involve driving. They specifically visit the places in Scarborough where he worked and how condos are replacing those smaller shops. It’s a first time work and it shows through its lightness but at least it’s sweet.
I Want You To Live by Leah Renaud comes next. Among its interview subjects are a playwright, a graphic designer, and a news anchor. All of them discuss how suicide touches their lives. The most relatable of these subjects is the designer. Him being a young Filipino male helps with the relatability, if I’m gonna be honest here. And his story about disclosing his mental health issues reminded me of my own disclosure story. Straightforward, if not simple, but it takes viewers to the experience without exploiting its subjects.
Yvonne Sung’s Ticketed For What? uses contrasts in depicting the wide economic gap within Toronto. One shot would have condos and the next would take us under a bridge where homeless people live. It’s one of my favorites within the genre at the fest for a simple reason. It finds a new and shocking angle to an issue viewers think they know about. Occasional intertitles also help.
Family is one of the connective tissue among these shorts, whether they’re on the forefront or on the periphery. That’s specifically true with Carol Nguyen’s No Crying at the Dinner Table. It’s a short that’s made the cut for previous festivals. It makes a stop at this fest. Nguyen, after all, got one of her starts here. And her new offering brings up the genre’s quality.
Biskawbiyung: The Return is the last of this crop. On paper, it seems like a straightforward documentary on the repatriation of Indigenous objects. However, there are moments of visual storytelling here. A white or white-passing child looks on during an indoor Indigenous celebration. The picture is deliberately incomplete. Instead, it shows its focus on a resilient people reuniting with the things and culture their ancestors had.