This year’s Future of Film Showcase has a short that I eventually remembered that I saw (Heart Berry) and another one that I do remember seeing (Srikandi), but one thing’s for sure. Both of those shorts are different in quality, from great to good, and are different in aesthetics.
And these differing aesthetics applies to one of the shorts in the showcase that are new discoveries to me. That short is Petal to the Metal, a three minute short that we won’t confuse with PeDal to the Metal. The aesthetics here show Brakhage-y influence in its depiction of flora and fauna. But it presents its subjects in an interesting light. I even see a millennial spin on the subject which is a bad way of writing that the neon colours makes me think of a rave. Also, that sound design is fresh.
The next short, Maziyar Khatam’s Bump, takes viewers to Scarborough. The guys (Khatam and Dylan Hatton) name drop the Toronto borough even if the one shot short make it look like New York. These guys have to name drop where they’re from after bumping to each other and making a big deal out of an accident. Making a big deal out of accidents is something that I believe I’m too whitewashed for (we East Yorkers don’t do that). But it probably takes one encounter to bring the ethnic toxic male out of me. It also makes me want to think about how I’d insult these guys which is probably the point. There’s intention and polish here and it makes us ask questions.
Challenging is one word to describe the next short, Maryam Charles’ Song for the New World. Actual film shows a full screen ratio of lush tropical forests while a woman sings about life in French. There’s an occasional flashback to a black girl who makes a paper boat. There’s something borderline obtuse about this work, although themes or projections show up after a few repeat viewings. Some viewers might misinterpret this work as one that fetishizes an old world, but I’ll give this the benefit of the doubt that this is about nostalgia. I risk of sounding like a faux intellectual here. But this short does make one ponder about the differences between old and new.
The next short, Jess X. Snow’s Little Sky, beautifully deals with trauma. The titular small time non-binary drag queen (Wo Chan) finds a fan (Kyoko Takenaka). This coincidental meeting leads to another. And that meeting is with the former’s father (Fenton Li). It’s strange to talk about a short with a three act structure but it applies here and Snow uses conventional storytelling well. The middle act is deceptively simple with its use of closeups but it accomplishes an intimacy that it likely aims for. There’s also some marvelous editing during the first and final acts that feels wonderfully impressionistic and literary. The short replicates how people’s memories come alive.
Barry Bilinsky’s Premonition: On the Eve of Treaty Six uses the voice of a Metis chief who sounds like he’s praying for peace. A peace between his people and the white people who at that point are settling onto Indigenous territory. It is, admittedly on first impression, open to cynicism, because we know that his Creator didn’t heed his prayers. As the animation short shows, the settlers killed the buffalo. Killing the buffalo starved Indigenous people off most of their land so that Canada can bring more settlers in. But the prayer does state something about the blood that the settlers shed. And to find hope after bloodshed feels poignant. The animation work is also dark yet brings detail to its frames.
The last short I’m writing about is Perfecting the Art of Longing, the kind of short where words to describe or praise it are difficult to come by. Director Kitra Cahana sets up a camera on the room where her father Rabbi Ronnie is staying. And this is not just any other room. It’s a room in a long term care facility that he calls his home for the past decade after having a debilitating stroke. And of course, she can’t see him because, understandably, of COVID lockdowns. There’s so much determination and thought with the camerawork here even with what she has to work with. It also goes without saying that the material is emotionally poignant, especially with Rabbi’s narration.
- Rated: NR
- Genre: Animation, documentary, Short
- Release Date: 6/19/2022
- Directed by: Barry Bilinsky, Jess X. Snow, Kitra Cahana, Maziyar Khatam, Miryam Charles
- Starring: Fenton Li, Kyoko Takenaka, Maziyar Khatam, Wo Chan
- Produced by: Andreas Nicholas, Annette Clarke, Eris Quan
- Written by: Jess X. Snow, Maziyar Khatam
- Studio: Funny Bone Pictures, ONF | NFB