The Toronto Youth Shorts has a mixed bag of shorts this year but the good ones are really excellent. I was lucky to see a few movies from three of its four programs. The first, Forging Our Own Discourse showcase films in dialogue with the past.
The Forging program starts out with Carol Nguyen’s Every Grain of Rice and Tale Linh Do and Ruby Xia’s NomNom. I’m lumping both because they both feature ethnic people and food. Which means they’re already at the top of the pile. Nguyen’s family stars in Rice. One actress specifically does this thing with cutting mangoes that reminds me of how my mother did it. It’s steamy in the way that kitchens during the summer are. And there’s something more than just her preparing food. It’s a cultural practice that she wants to keep despite being in the diaspora. Similarly, NomNom shows through animation a battle between two chefs, and the directors express food’s viscosity so well. Both have an excellent golden touches in their color palette.
Justin Giegrich’s Green Shoes starts out with a Girl (Jessica Ryan). She narrates that “I was fourteen and he was forty-seven” and nope. What ensues are the conflicting accounts between her and the forty-seven year old Man (Matthew McCurdy). And by conflicting I mean that there are minor inconsistencies. The Girl still loves him even though she seems too smart for a pedophile to groom her. Showing the Girl’s perspective takes into account the Man’s predatory nature, and the film lists Ryan as an executive producer. Still judging this though because of the premise and the bad cinematography.
Two other shorts in the Forging program also deal with sexuality. Adrienne Mountain’s Lady Strips has the same premise as Robbie Williams’ Rock DJ music video. Jevon Boreland’s Stripped is slightly better, a comprehensive documentary about Mz Lady Ice. She’s an adult dancer who is so good that she has a space to perform in Magic Mike like conventions.
I only got to see the one short from the Moving Forward program, which is about adolescent struggles. Though that might seem to minimize the struggle of Laura Hillier. She’s the main subject in Sarah Gonyea’s A Voice for Change: The Laura Hillier Story. It’s a refreshingly straightforward documentary short about Hillier’s struggle with cancer. Sean Cullen produced the short but I don’t know if it’s that Sean Cullen.
Searching for Belonging features shorts that are about isolation. There’s Megan Lawless’ animation movie Mr. Slotter. It depicts a hit man (Braden Wright) – his name is Mr. Slotter, get it? – in a job so repelling that it makes him question is line of work. It’s cute, combining anime and 90s Cartoon Network style animation in depicting water, a visual motif in noir hybrid films. Another entry in the cute ledger with Kennedy Salloum’s Un Piece. It’s about two latchkey kids doing G rated versions of Godard films. It astutely shows that dark edge of an adult world that kids see.
Other shorts in the Searching program are Benjamin Reyes’ Second Life. It depicting a man (Anthony Massullo) who’s in front of his computer too much. It has bad animation and bad lighting and I would hate it had it not attacked my own addictions. There’s also Youp Zondag and Mariana Ospina’s Magic Lantern. It’s about Pieck (Tyler Barish), who finds himself in a never ending carnival, which explains the running time. At one point he tells a marionette that she isn’t real, which is just rude. It overuses cinematic metaphors, but the creep factor saves it.
Once again, these programs are Forging Our Own Discourse, Moving Forward, and Searching For Belonging. They are all playing at September 22nd at Jackman Hall. For showtimes and tickets go to https://www.torontoyouthshorts.ca/2018-festival.html.
- Genre: Animation, Art, documentary, Drama, Family, fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Short
- Directed by: Adrienne Mountain, Benjamin Reyes, Carol Nguyen, Jevon Boreland, Justin Giegrich, Kennedy Salloum, Mariana Ospina, Megan Lawless, Ruby Xia, Sarah Gonyea, Tale Linh Do
- Starring: Anthony Massullo, Braden Wright, Jessica Ryan, Matthew McCurdy, Tyler Barish
- Produced by: Anthony Hunos, Bailey Keates, Kaanchana Kerr, Mariana Ospina, Ryan Shuler, Sean Cullen, Suzy Queen, Tim Rousseau, Youp Zondag