Shorts That Are Not Pants 2020: Our Review of ‘Block 2: Originals’

Posted in Festival Coverage, What's Streaming? by - November 13, 2020
Shorts That Are Not Pants 2020: Our Review of ‘Block 2: Originals’

This year’s Shorts Not Pants calls its second block Originals, which is self explanatory. At least 70% of the films here are documentaries, and if you like those, there’s another block just for docs.

Friends are hard for the first titular subject in Mike McKinlay’s Marty because he’s is into 80s skateboarding and he’s 11. The enjoyment of such a short depends on viewer opinions towards Marty who is an ‘old soul’. Some people like old souls more than others. As I write this, there’s an ease in McKinlay’s depiction of his subject as the latter skateboards his way through a city. He sometimes gets tricks right and sometimes he falls. It’s a boring metaphors like all metaphors, but it’s still true.

The titular Jesse Jams, a short that Trevor Anderson directed, has had some fanfare during last month’s Inside Out and for good reason. This shows that one person has many stories and has connections to more, like their mother’s death, their bond with their grandparent, and their lifelong discovery of music and sexual identity.

Simon Madore’s Peete is more obscure. Again, the title probably refers to a transient who pines for a former flame while defending a little kid from bullies. It pays attention to the way the protagonist looks and how much work it takes to be original.

Doing an unconventional job isn’t easy and the titular subject in Paul Webster’s The Vasectomy Doctor shows just that. Webster reenacts a moment when Dr. Andrew Rynne (Ciaran McMahon) interacts with a gunman (Zeb Moore). But it’s as interesting when he sits down with the real Dr. Rynne as the latter opens up about the difficulties in surgical medicine and finding out that there is more than one reason why people in the then conservative Ireland wanted to harm him. Introspection is always good.

Danielle Ayow’s short But You’re Not Black is another sit down documentary. This time, the director talks to people about their Caribbean heritage. What makes this stand out is that one of the people she talks to is visibly South Asian and she’s visible East Asian. I’m pointing out my experience or privilege here but anyone who went to high school south of Bloor knows that there are Caribbean people with lighter skin colors. People who watch The Voice know Tessanne Chin is. But the Chinese-Caribbean that I know are biracial, but Ayow is not. Either way, these interviews can be very chill even though this is a personal subject for both the director and their subjects. Their presence on screen shows how comfortable they’re becoming as themselves.

The short Glad You’re Here by Lisa Kannakko has home videos of her daughter and her pets. That footage seems happy but Kannakko’s narration provides context. Missing from the picture is her abusive then husband. There’s simplicity in depicting this journey, of how many tears one should cry before becoming free.

There’s a mental toll in living as a woman in society. That’s Larissa Odermatt’s message in her short Trimming. She begins by showing hair tutorials on YouTube. Every woman looks different, but even that diversity feels stiflingly conformist. She moves on to depicting her three main subjects with different hair lengths. While closing up on them and making her camera revolve around each subject, they discuss the associations society has with hair length, especially with gender. A block full of great shorts, this is the one that really understood the assignment. Personal filmmaking at its best.

A woman contemplates her eating habits in Ashley Williams’ Meats. Specifically, there’s a butcher watching as the protagonist (Williams) contemplates an alternate universe where lambs eat people instead of the other ways around. Repeat viewings make the Swiftian references unfold, and those references are always welcome.

A man who makes a supposedly sartorial decision is the protagonist in Rakel Strom’s Kilt. This shows the group effort within individuality, that acceptance is difficult but there’s hope it can happen.

Love yourself and go to https://shortsnotpants2020.eventive.org/schedule for passes and tickets.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch 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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