TIFF 2021: Our Review of ‘Short Cuts Programme 04’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, TIFF 2021 by - September 14, 2021
TIFF 2021: Our Review of ‘Short Cuts Programme 04’

Albert Shin headlines TIFF’s fourth short cuts programme, and joining him are directors who are at least new to me. All the shorts in the programme, at least to me, depict gradations of sadness. They go from bittersweet to full on depressing which is fine for us cinephiles and festival viewers. Talking to someone after watching these shorts is a good idea, but not before talking about them first.

Andrea Nirmala Widjajanto directs Srikandi, about a performer, Anjani (Rai Putriansyah) who dotes on her puppeteer father before he passes away. He practices a traditional Indonesian puppetry of Hindu gods whose stories reflect Anjani’s life. The metaphor is on the nose, but the short’s balancing act make it bittersweet. The puppetry’s aesthetics also make this automatically good.

The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be doesn’t specify what area it’s depicting but it turns up the darker colors to make sure that viewers know that it’s an apocalyptic version of 2080. That obviousness is one of the strikes I have against it. The second is the pacing, but I’m forgiving it simply because of the story. A woman (Anna-Maria Nabirye) finds a sanctuary. It shows a lot about altruism and selfishness, and it’s surprising to see which characters exude which quality. This is part of Foresight, an anthology series of shorts, and this one is enough for me to have as a slight interest on the others. Nabirye is also a Shakespearina actor, and does well with Courttia Newland’s almost wordless script.

A narrator in in Gabriel Herrera’s Motorcyclist’s Happiness Won’t Fit Into His Suit recounts a conquistador’s account of Mexico while showing people pose with or ride around motorcycles. Someone described this as experimental but that involves trying things instead of sticking them together and hoping it works. It’s filmic I give it that, but its references to Renaissance art and ugh, Godard, feel tenuous. The programme’s worst.

A chicken is central to Seth A. Smith’s Dust Bath. Tom’s capsule review pretty much praises this short, and I echo it, but one of the things the chicken says reminds me of something Morrissey says. Meat is murder, sweet sweet murder, please someone get some chicken with me. The programme’s best.

After this short is Mariama Diallo and Benjamin Dickinson White Devil, where both play an interracial couple in the Western world of the past decade. It basically encapsulates what it’s like to live with a white person. Other than the 4:3 ratio and the grainy black and white I don’t see anything here that Jordan Peele doesn’t already say in his features. Cringe in content should not equate cringe in methods.

Viewers see a relatively peaceful opening scene in Rakan Mayasi’s Trumpets in the Sky. Its first shot is a wide one, showing a field where Palestinian women work. It then follows one of those women, Bourhra (Boushra Matar) to show that work isn’t the only thing happening during that day. Because it’s her wedding day, a ceremony it depicts in slow motion to highlight how happy other people are more than she is. She doesn’t disclose her reason, which make us just be with her and her emotions. This is specific to the Palestinian female struggle, but there’s also a universality here that Wahid Ajmi’s script expresses.

Humans try and strive to harness nature at the expense of animals. That’s the message of Jack Weisman’s documentary short Nuisance Bear, showing the coexistence and mostly silent conflict between animals, humans, and the infrastructure and waste that the latter produces. Its heartbreaking tone makes as much sense had this been the centerpiece short as it does the penultimate one. This is on the top of the pile.

And it ends with Albert Shin’s short Together, aiming to show a different side of the Asian experience. A woman enters a house and find another man there. As someone who has been in houses where other men are, no. This exudes ‘a straight man wrote this’ energy. But it’s always good to end things in weird and thus new ways. And it’s good to hear Korean garage rock.

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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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