TAD 2019: Our Look at the International Shorts Program

TAD 2019: Our Look at the International Shorts Program

Horror is one of the best genres for a short film, because if you can accomplish one or two really good scares it is very likely that you will have built a compact and memorable short film. On top of that, horror in general is a genre that does not necessitate a high budget, and thus, this makes it a favourite for budget conscious filmmakers.

Thus, horror short programs are often filled with real talent, and this year’s rendition of the International Shorts Program at Toronto After Dark is no exception. The full program consists of eight non-Canadian shorts. Many are excellent, and there are few (if any) clunkers.

Arguably the best is David Yorke’s Eject, the story of a young woman who discovers a USB slot in her right arm that allows her to plug into and replace her neurological processing. Discovering French comes as easy as shuffling around the folders in her mental filing cabinet. But with that ease comes temptation, and the nagging desire to excise painful memories. This is a visceral piece of cyber horror, that packs a heavier emotional punch than numerous feature films.

The most minimal film, meanwhile, is Vincent Alello’s Puzzle. The premise is simple: a woman begins piecing together a puzzle that depicts her sitting in the very room that she’s presently sitting. What will the final piece reveal? It’s a very short short, just four minutes in length, but comes with a pervasive sense of dread that builds to its terse conclusion.

The funniest film has to be Jason Gudasz’s Place, the story of a makeshift family that moves to a new house where things are not quite what they seem. It’s deeply esoteric, and cheekily pokes fun at this fact. Gudasz invokes Greek mythology and Hernan Cortes in his litany of references, but it’s the performance of young Stella Edwards that really steals the show.

Marc Martinez Jordan’s Your Last Day on Earth wins the prize for most beautiful looking film. Invoking the spirit of late 70s colour celluloid filmmaking, this film involves time travel and memory, and the traumas we pass on to our progeny.

From the mind of former Pixar animator Carlos Baena comes La Noria, a cross between a twisted version of Hugo and Coco. It’s a solid short, and one that has me considering just why there are not more animated horror films. The dark fairy tale element present in this film is an aesthetic that could clearly translate well throughout the medium.

The remaining three films, Bar Fight, Maggie May, and The Haunted Swordsman, all have their moments, but never quite managed to hold my attention like their counterparts. There are ultimately several names worth taking note of from this program, and I implore you to keep an eye out for any of the eight that sound interesting to you.

This post was written by
Thomas Wishloff is currently an MA student at York University. He is new to the Toronto Film Scene, but has periodically written and podcasted for several now defunct ventures, and has probably commented on a forum with you at some point. The ex-Edmontonian has been known to enjoy a good board game, and claims to know the secret to the best popcorn in the world.
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