TIFF 2020: Our Review of ‘Short Cuts 1’

TIFF 2020: Our Review of ‘Short Cuts 1’

The festival is still on and they still have films worth writing about, and I am here to write about them. They sell their first Short Cuts program as one about new beginnings, and they also show how rough and emotional those beginnings can be.

David Findlay’s Found Me shows the relatively happy life of a Quebec City man living a double life. And that secret life involves a passion for local wrestling. He’s specifically hiding that passion from his girlfriend (Nahema Ricci) Findlay’s camerawork sometimes zips through the wrestling scenes. But the bisexual lighting and the score shows an approach that’s dare I say chill.

Next up is David, the directorial debut of The Office‘s Zach Woods. Here, David 1 is a high school level wrestler derailing a therapy session where David 2 (William Jackson Harper) irons his neuroses out. The therapist, by the way, is David 1’s dad (Will Ferrell). David 2 is puzzlingly a non-entity here but Ferrell is usually the crazy guy in the scene. It’s nice of him to play someone else’s straight man.

Then there’s Sophy Romvari’s Still Processing, which shares the same name with a podcast about contemporary pop culture. This short as a more personal scope. It shows Romvari’s genuine emotional moments as she sees her two brothers’ pictures for the first time. Filmmakers and critics have this professional relationship. But I also consider Romvari a friend and a good one for checking on me when I lost my mother.

Even though it’s obvious that most people our age would have lost someone at this point in our lives, I didn’t know she was feeling the same pain. I don’t know how much of this paragraph is actual film criticism or just me writing. Either way, it’s all about sublimating that pain. She does this by preserving the memories of those two brothers whom she lost. This a celebration of film and digital technology and of the infrastructure making film preservation possible. I doubt I’ll see anything in the fest better than this short.

Speaking of infrastructure, Tayler Montague shows inner city New York in its glory on her short In Sudden Darkness. She lets us feel the hot sun on the city’s high rise residential buildings and on the Black people who live there. Her attention to detail takes audiences back to the summer of 2003, when a bug took the power out in the Northeastern United States and Canada. One of those citizens is a child, Tatianna Monroe. Playing Monroe is Sienna Rivers, who silent judge the adults around her while understanding her parents’ nuanced love. Her performance of a child who learns subtle empathy anchors this short, the program’s second best.

There’s also Zhannat Alshanova’s History of Civilization. This is my first film from Kazakhstan and to answer your question, no. Anyway, maybe infrastructure is this program’s secret theme, as it depicts a school and two apartments. Spaces that a teacher, Indra, is looking at for the last time. There’s a cold mourning to the aesthetic here, as the pastel paint in the spaces’ walls fade, sometimes chipping. Human history is about departures and arrivals, and there’s a simplicity in showing those departures, one person a time.

Lastly, there’s Jordan Canning’s 4 North A, which is technically only about two characters, a woman and her dying father. But this animation short takes time to depict minor characters around those two, showing how those other characters deal with death. The aesthetic is very NFB with its use of strong lines, but flashback scenes are equally beautiful in their impressionism. Both aesthetic show so much truth.

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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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