Should I start dating again? Jim Vendiola’s Pretty Pickle suggests that maybe I shouldn’t. A woman, Samantha (Whitney Masters), creepily watches the microwave as it heats up her non-descript food. Meanwhile, her boyfriend, protagonist Samuel (Brennan Urbi), tells his friend Patrice (Nadja Simmonds) about Samantha’s weird qualities. Specifically, that she seems curious about who he’s texting. The film, competently using full screen black and cinematography, makes it look like she knows who he’s texting without seeing his screen. Takes a while to get to the point, but that ending creeped me out. Also, there’s a lot of sex scenes for this 12 minute short depicting the leads’ bodies that might not be everyone’s type. They almost makes me miss the act. This short plays as part of Fantasia’s Cavalcade of Perversions: Orgy program that also played on the 15th.
Mathieu Morel’s Beauty and the Beast is the next Orgy short. To use the 2SLGBTQIA+ acronym to describe this short feels generous. Although yes it is a gay and fetishistic retelling of the fairy tale and a polar opposite of the Disney version. There’s also a lady (Pascale Faure) narrating the story of a naked muscle twink, Belle-Rose (Aurélien Deniel). He walks around a castle to find someone in pup gear (Leolo). The 90’s VHS quality is interesting but to what end? Part of the synopsis reads “images are likely to offend homophobic sensibilities”. The images of an anus prolapsing made me want to vote Conservative.
That Orgy program also has a short about semen retention, which is what guys used to call me in 2019. I don’t know whether or not I should have asked for that semen retention short. Anyway, Exalted Mars, from Jean-Sebastian Chauvin, is also an entry in the Orgy program, which is ironic because it only really depicts one guy. The credits call this guy the Dreamer (Alain Garcia Vergara). His mind is on a modern French city while his body is in bed, naked. I love a happy ending. But this is arguably the first time that the short’s bad leadup trumps that ending. Also, I get it, I’ve never recorded myself sleeping or have someone do it for me. I’ve never slept naked in France so I don’t know the difference between that and Canadian heat, and sweat is sexy, but for God’s sake open a window.
Yann Gonzalez has a producer credit on Mars and he directs Hideous, which reexamines the gaze especially within the 2SLGBTQIA+ context. A perfect entry to the I’m So Beautiful program, and there’s an irony between the short and the program’s title that’s too good to spoil. We see a Black talk show host (Fehinti Balogun) use his gaze, as well as a child who is in need of a role model. The object of both their gazes is a Phantom and an Artist (the xx’s Oliver Sim), who is hiding a secret. This short employs the 90s low quality full screen TV aesthetic in ways better than other shorts in Fantasia this year. I can’t imagine seeing a better short this festival. Bimini Bon Boulash makes a great cameo in a short with catchy songs.
A filmmaker’s night of binge drinking at home gives her hallucinations. That’s the basic premise of Alexis Langlois’ The Demons of Dorothy. Here, the titular filmmaker (Justine Langlois), among a few things, finds that her closet has supernatural powers. She is able to use that closet to leave her bedroom and go to her agent’s office. There, she finds out that her agent is worshipping her rival, Xena Lodan. I’m going way past my bedtime as I write this portion of this piece and I can figure out who Xena Lodan’s real life counterpart is. And yes, I wish to live in a universe where Cannes’ wonder director is a transwoman instead of a cis racist. This satire misses its mark though making it the second worst short in the European contingent. Also a part of the I’m So Beautiful program.
Next, not a lot happens in Cloe Coutel’s Vague a l’Ame, about a girl who escapes to the beach while her parents are napping. The colours are way too bright even for someone who likes bright colours. The old school animation is always welcome and refreshing. And I’m not that terrible of a person to knock down a short about a girl who wants a wholesome fun time. Plus, the woodwind soundtrack compliments the film’s lightness. This short film is part of We’re Having the Time of our Lives, which, yeah, this tracks.
Dating is hard enough as it is in the 2020s and Tipper Newton’s Wild Card shows that the dating difficulties during a fictional version of the 1980s were much more severe. Here, she plays Toni, a woman who uses a dating agency that uses tapes. She eventually picks Daniel (Billy Flynn), and Daniel starts to think that agreeing to go on a date with her was a terrible idea. It takes more than a subtle version of the Farrah Fawcett hair, red shoulder pads, and tacky furniture to take viewers back to the 80s but it does competently. The plot’s early points can be groan worthy as it anticipates a certain metaphor, but it thankfully keeps us guessing. Also, Newton delivers the most interesting line readings I’ve seen during this festival. This short is part of the fest’s Born of Woman 2022 program.
We move to big dinosaurs in the next short, Mesozoique Alternatif, an animation short coming from six different French directors. It is part of Fantasia’s Animated Shorts to Make You Laugh…. program. It imagines a world where dinosaurs and humans cohabitate. Regret may be the theme in this year’s Euro shorts. I write this because the humans’ actions make the dinosaurs regret the idea of saving the former from the asteroid. Some of the quality of the animation loses itself during movement, but it’s cute. It’s colourful and tactile. I feel like the kids are going to have a better Fantasia than the grownups this year.
A whale pushes an iceberg across the ocean so that his new friend, a penguin, gets a new home in Ezequiel Torres’ Penguin and Whale. Friendship goals, Sisyphus can never. The animation feels janky at first but even its block like aesthetic can yield so much detail. Repeat viewings show what’s obvious sometimes, like the houses floating in water because of rising sea levels. Also reminiscent of The Group of Seven’s style. Thoroughly depressing. Penguin And Whale also plays as part of Animation Shorts To Make You Laugh… And Think program. Good for Argentina and China to collaborate.
There’s at least two shorts in this piece that show the intersection between childhood and adulthood, and Frank Van den Bogaart’s Darker makes for the third. A girl (Adriana Bakker) calls out to her father as she looks for him in the Dutch forests. She does so without knowing the consequences of her actions and how this short journey will change her as a person. This is probably the most straightforward horror short I’ve seen so far, and there’s a part of me that makes me want to dock points for that. But it doesn’t make sense for me to clutch my pearls at the content of the previous shorts and then call this boring. Besides, this isn’t boring. The aesthetics here have a polish to them too that many horror films thankfully have now. This is part of Fantasia’s Small Gauge Trauma program, because trauma begins at home.
Amandine Meyer’s A Story for 2 Trumpets is part of Fantasia’s Circo Animato program. A girl has an argument with her puppy love boyfriend. She then turns into a virgin mother, and then turns back into a girl who has a better relationship with her boyfriend. The visual language is clear enough for viewers to gleam this storyline or to project their own to the short. The short doesn’t even need dialogue to convey what it needs to impart. There’s a smidge of Keith Haring here, so imagine that aesthetic but for a children’s animation. The colors are great. This short proves once and for all that God is a Black woman in a sundress. The French get it right, for once.
I end this piece with another animation short, Boa from Nicolas Parra, which plays before Yaya e Lennie. It uses unnatural colours to convey that humanity has breached through the doorstep of the natural world. A soldier and a guerilla member find themselves in the Amazon, fighting without knowing that there’s a real king of the forest – the Anaconda. They also discover that their actions have consequences. The short finds the right kind of menacing tone, inviting viewers to embrace the darkness.
I listed all the programs where Fantasia is showing each short. For more details on when to watch them, click here.
- Release Date: 7/22/2022