TIFF 2018: ‘Short Cuts Highlights’

TIFF 2018: ‘Short Cuts Highlights’

One of the joys of diving into the TIFF Short Cuts Programmes is seeing the diverse range of stories and emotions on display. You can be laughing one moment, terrified the next or walk away contemplating an aspect of life in a way you never considered before. Here are a few of the films you can find in the various programmes:

Circle
Dir. Jayisha Patel

For three generations of women in India the cycle of abuse is inescapable. Through the eyes of 13-year-old Kushbu we get an inside look into not only the abuse she endured, but how her own family may have been complicit in it. What is so stunning about Jayisha Patel’s powerful documentary is the level of violence towards women that is deemed acceptable within the community. Whether it is the story of the police woman who attempts to get Kushbu to lie about the actual number of men who assaulted her; or her family reinforcing the notion that women who do not serve their husbands properly should be beaten, it’s clear that women are regarded as nothing more than cattle. A sobering look at the vicious and repressive circle of abuse that has engulfed one family, Patel paints a haunting picture of cycle with no end insight.

Circle screens as Short Cuts Programme 04
Saturday, September 8, 10:15 PM, Scotiabank
Friday, September 14, 9:45 PM, Scotiabank

Fauve
Dir. Jérémy Comte

In Jérémy Comte’s visually arresting and effectively haunting film Fauve two boys spend the day in playful competition. Pranking each other at abandon train parks and trying their best to one-up each other, the boys unexpectedly take things a step too far at an open-pit mine. Comte weaves together a riveting tale of friendship and grief. One that deceptively starts out as an observation of the recklessness of youth and turns into a though-provoking look at the sense of isolation and guilt that comes with tragedy. Leaving the viewer with more questions than answers, Comte ensures that Fauve’s hypnotic and unsettling allure is not easily forgotten.

Fauve screens as Short Cuts Programme 07
Monday, September 10, 9:30 PM, Scotiabank
Sunday, September 16, 4:15 PM, Scotiabank

Caroni
Dir. Ian Harnarine

A mother longs for her daughter and her homeland of Trinidad and Tobago while working as a nanny in New York City in Ian Harnarine’s latest short Caroni. Focusing heavily on nature, the film forces one to reflect on a mother’s instinct and unwavering love. The use of the Scarlet Ibis bird as the connecting thread between the woman and the West Indies also adds another meditative layer to Harnarine’s exploration of the emotional pain caused by separation. This all makes for a somber, but effective look at a mother’s heartache.

Caroni screens as Short Cuts Programme 08
Tuesday, September 11, 9:30 PM, Scotiabank
Sunday, September 16, 7:15 PM, Scotiabank

Winners Bitch
Dir. Sam Gurry

In her inventive documentary Winners Bitch, director Sam Gurry blends animation, interviews and archival images to construct a complex portrait of all breed American Kennel Club judge Virginia Hampton. A prominent fixture on the best in show breeders circuit, Hampton’s legacy is one of praise or scorn based on who you ask. Some saw her as a trailblazer for women, a person who rose up the breeding ranks and paved the way for certain dogs to get recognized in competitions. Others saw her as a biased judge who prioritized dogs over her own family. Deciphering which version is more accurate is part of the film’s charm. Though some of the animation editing techniques get a bit repetitive at times, Hampton’s film is an intriguing and humorous look at a woman as unique as the dogs she championed.

Winners Bitch screens as Short Cuts Programme 05
Sunday, September 9 7 PM, Scotiabank
Saturday, September 15, 6:30 PM, Scotiabank

Exit
Dir. Claire Edmondson

Maria Bello gives a sensational and moving performance in Claire Edmondson’s layered film Exit. After spending some time with her adult daughter, Kim (Bello) must come to terms with a difficult decision she has made. Channeling the anger and sadness that governs Kim’s emotions, Bello and Edmondson present a unique meditation what it means to truly live life one’s own terms. Exit does not pass judgment on Kim or her decision, but rather aims to provide a nuanced understanding of her motivations. While the subject matter could easily fit a feature length film, Edmondson manages to pack a lot of rich emotion and grace into the Exit’s compact running time.

Exit screens as Short Cuts Programme 07
Monday, September 10, 9:30 PM, Scotiabank
Sunday, September 16, 4:15 PM, Scotiabank

This post was written by
Courtney is a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic and the founder of Cinema Axis. He can frequently be heard discussing film as co-host of Frameline on Radio Regent. Courtney has contributed to several publications including Leornard Maltin, That Shelf, Black Girl Nerds, and Comix Asylum Magazine. He also celebrates diversity in cinema as co-hosts of the Changing Reels podcast and is a member of the Online Film Critics Society.
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