The Pre-Feature Shorts at CFF 2023

Posted in CFF 2023, Festival Coverage, Movies by - March 27, 2023
The Pre-Feature Shorts at CFF 2023

I had many reasons for feeling like wanting to write two pieces for the CFF shorts, but the main reason is that I wanted to pace myself. One short at a time. This is probably a good method of taking in these shorts, since these ones precede this annual festival’s feature films.

Momma’s Boy is universal enough even if most of it takes place in indoor locations both real and imaginary. Protagonist Sammy (Tyler Barish) imagines a man killing his next door neighbour. He has these visions because his Maw (Krista Bridges) is a ghostly presence in his life, giving him anxiety. Despite it being triggering, I like how cinematic this is, using editing and sound to make its viewers feel the anxiety. It mat be using those elements loudly, but why not? This short precedes Babysitter.

Toronto also serves as the setting for Holly Pruner’s Great Seeing You. It has its protagonist Maisie (Lee Lawson) wandering in some back alley, looking for a bike that her ex-best friend left her. The production is bare bones and can push its subjects further in the beginning, but it eventually closes in on Maisie. Lawson capably captures what it’s like to be the sad half of a dissolving friendship. This is how all my friendships end. This short precedes When Time Got Louder.

The next short film is Sheherazade Mian’s There Are No Children Here. Here, its protagonist, Saima (Pooja Bhandari), starts as a bubbly teen attending a relative’s pre-wedding ceremony. She then turns into someone more closed off after a man follows her into a bathroom. Mian captures an incident that plausibly happens within her and any community. And there’s a universality in the way most communities mishandles these incidents. The aesthetic feels slightly rough but that might just reflect the short’s mood. This short precedes the feature length Bystanders.

John Cleland stars as a father in Sissy, where, after having one sensible beer, he goes to the bathroom and finds locks of hair. He instantly knows that it’s his son’s, who did this after the other kids bully him for having long hair. All this short needs is these ten minutes to know that these two characters understand each other. There’s polish in this short about the compassion two characters feel for each other after a great loss in their lives. Caleb Harwood and Simon Paluck direct this short that precedes How To Get My Parents To Divorce.

Majboor-e-mamool is not for everyone because of its long takes, but its approach to telling a mother and daughter story is rare enough to be refreshing. Possibly the shortest film in the festival, it captures the shifting power dynamics between the two characters. The mother bosses her daughter but the former is vulnerable enough. After all, she’s dealing with a health related situation while being relatively new to the country. These two have no choice outside of trust. This short precedes Golden Delicious.

There’s a few little moments in Aisha Evelyna’s Alex that shows that it can lead to two different direction. Instead of playing the titular role, she plays Sydney, a Black woman who enters one of the boutiques in the hipster side of town. Trying on a lace nude bra, nude for white people that is, she looks down and sees her skin turning white. Part of me wonders what the rest of the short may look like if she stuck with that plot.

There’s also another moment where the titular character (Perrie Voss), the shop keep, checks herself out in the mirror, not knowing that her and Sydney will have an encounter. The few who will read this know that this is going to become that kind of short. I myself braced for what may happen based on the premise alone. Nonetheless, credit is due to showing its unique way of the worst thing that can happen. This short precedes Retrograde.

Love comes at full force in Nedda Sharshar’s Rachel and Raha, as Rachel (Sofia Rodridguez) stays up at night. She thinks of her high school crush Raha (Golshan Abdmoulaie), who returns to the house across the street to care for her lonely grandmother. The visuals here are simple, which is sometimes not a good thing during the one night scene. But there’s a veneer here that competently expresses nostalgia bleeding into the present.

The last of the pre-full length shorts is Joy Webster’s Menace, which shows the consequences when a man catches his estranged ex doing something strange. That ex, Addy (Michaela Kurminsky), is taking pictures of him while he’s sleeping. There’s the bit of shaky cam during the obligatory chase scene. Otherwise, it’s good at capturing Toronto, a city where people aren’t what they seem. The acting here is also top notch in letting viewers see both sides, specifically on why Addy does what she does.

  • Release Date: 3/28/2023
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches 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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