Fantasia Fest 2022: Mother Canada

Posted in Fantasia 2022, Festival Coverage, Movies by - July 17, 2022
Fantasia Fest 2022: Mother Canada

Genre cinema is great. But what’s equally great are the short films that depict the day to day life or real characters. The Canadian and Quebecois shorts in this year’s Fantasia can do both while also making room for strong female characters.

Destruction, from Marc Bureau, appears as part of Fantasia’s Our World program. Here, a man, David Michel (Jonathan Asselin) writes a letter after he finds that the piece of orange chocolate is missing from his box of chocolates. Bureau co-directed this as a tribute to Jean-Marc Vallee and is technically a drama, but all I see is esoteric comedy that doesn’t land. Competent cinematography with its use of warm colours but it wastes that work here. It’s the shortest film that I write about in this piece and it feels too short as well. Thankfully, the next short, also a part of the Our World program, is much better than this one.

L’autre rive, from Gaelle Graton shows the intersection of two women. Both have a homeless shelter in Montreal as a part of their lives. The protagonist, Genevieve (Judith Baribeau) works long shifts cleaning the shelter although she has past experience as a social worker. Back then, she helped homeless people get apartments. One of those people is Camille (Rosalie Fortier). Camille’s presence at the shelter surprises Genevieve as a former client who gives up the apartment that the latter gives the former. Both characters have organic discussions about their ideas about homes, and the short presents those ideas without judgement. Both actresses, specifically Fortier, are forces on screen. I can imagine this short being the best Canadian one in this piece.

Gibier, from Antony Boudreau Savoie, is from the Of Monsters and Humans program. A hunter (Monick Piché) takes on that occupation and stuffs her animals as trophies, and the short depicts how a presence haunts her recent nights. There’s an artificial texture to the surfaces it shows, but it does so with an effective eeriness. Even the lighting hits the hunter’s cabin in ways that make it seem like she’s as much in a trap as the animals that fall victim to her.

Next up is Gilnaz Arpeyma’s Fleeting: here and there, part of the Terra Emotiva program. It uses animation as metaphor in the way that Sylvia Plath uses literary devices in her poems. Gears in a bicycle look like single cell life forms, etc. The draft might as well be the final product, and there’s a beautiful elasticity to the images and the textures that this short shows. All this short needs is two minutes to show the world inside and out and it excellently makes use of that running time.

The past haunts a family Alexandra Magistro in Love You, Mama, a short that plays before The Protector. This clocks in at 20 minutes and the longest short that I write about in this piece. Mike Flanagan edits the short. And he does great work in depicting Rachel’s (Madeleine Arthur) memories of her father John (Matt Biedel), who dies an accidental offscreen death. This sudden passing, then destroys Rachel’s relationship with her mother Lee (Samantha Sloyan). I can’t speak for Magistro’s intentions here other than my own projections within her work. But there is possible a slight critique of ageism here. Viewers would be less sympathetic to Lee had she been the protagonist and not Rachel. And that dynamic makes for an interesting text that unfolds in middle class suburbia. There’s also the right amount of camp that makes this satisfyingly scary. Justice for agoraphobes though.

Are men ok? That’s one of my questions while watching Gabriel Auclair-Doucet’s Brigitte, about a titular blow up doll and the man, Jean-Guy (Charles-Aubrey House), who buys said doll. Brigitte comes to life in an effectively horrific way, Jean-Guy gets what he deserves in a surprising way. This is the second Canadian short with French speaking characters without subtitles, and the filmic language is good enough to gleam the storyline. The fact that Jean-Guy and another main character are wearing proper length shorts make this passable. As a caveat, these two characters are normal looking men. and thus not my type. This short plays as part of DJ XL5’s Ultimate Zappin’ Party, which makes me feel ambivalent a man in his thirties who feels too old for parties.

Speaking of parties, the last Canadian short I’m writing about is Eva Everett Irving’s Homewreckers, where she stars as one of three people in a Bavarian estate. Because I’m me, I’m trying to clock whether or not this is actually a Bavarian chalet or an AirBnB in Northern Ontario. Praise AirBnB for helping half of Canadian films birth themselves into existence, regardless of length. Anyway, these three people are noticing notes that a mysterious presence is addressing to them, revealing each other’s secrets. This is the least sexy short about sex, and my least favourite way to end this piece. This short plays before Compulsus, a feature length film I also disliked.

Find out how to watch these shorts here.

  • Release Date: 5/17/2022
This post was written by
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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