Boys, flight attendants, and sailors. These are the kind of characters viewers encounter in this year’s TIFF Short Cuts Programme 1. This programme’s theme is change, which feels vague, but these shorts for the post part work wonders with that theme. Let’s begin!
Charlie Mayers was a real sailor who flew over 2 kilometers when the Halifax pier exploded in 1917, but other sailors weren’t so lucky. Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis’ The Flying Sailor depicts, through animation, one of the unlucky ones. I always like old school animation but there’s a good mix of aesthetics here. There’s the cartoony raw style that viewers know NFB for. But there’s also a beautiful realism as the short depicts the sailor’s life flashing before his and our very eyes. This is on the high end of the programme and it’s good for things to start this way.
Carol Nguyen’s Nanitic is next, and it’s about two young Vietnamese Canadian girls who are also cousins. There’s a typical yet relatable enough nature to this story, which hits throughout the short as both girls can see their grandmother. And that grandmother isn’t in the best of health, her organs failing her and she’s unable to speak or leave her bed. Some scenes drone on, which isn’t the best thing to have in a short. But there’s just something about seeing three generations of an Asian family outside of the continent in this specific home that gives this an authentic feel. The art direction especially adds to the authenticity.
One flight attendant is having the wildest day at work in Airhostess-737, but that titular character, Vanina (Lena Papaligoura) does her best and almost fails to keep grinding. This short uses a lot of closeups. Here, Vanina tells her coworker (Konstantina Koutsonasiou) to keep going even if the latter thinks that the former should stop and take a break. This short is a critique of grind culture. And I don’t know why it surprises me that that exists in Greece as well as North America, where Vanina is flying from and has a weird history with. Vanina’s oversharing doesn’t come across well at first but the short eventually justifies it.
A 7 year old Ugandan American girl, Meyi (Leeanna E. Tushabe), looks at her mother Eserezi as the latter and a female friend meet at a rest stop between New York and Oklahoma. The friend, Rose (Olivia Nantongo), asks Eserezi how many times she will follow her husband Christopher (Robert Wanyama) around. Christopher’s economic situation is similar to many immigrants. He has to go to job after job deeper within America, inadvertently upending the life of his wife and children. Eserezi feels more central to the film than Meyi but there’s something about this short that reminds me of Morocco. There, Marlene Diertich ends up being as transient as Gary Cooper. Will Ferrell serves as an executive producer.
If you’re the kind of viewer who wants more out of your short films, The Garbage Man is the short for you. Its 11 minute running time contains a character who seems like he lived his life to the fullest. That character is Uncle Botao, the subject of conversation of a family having dinner somewhere in Portugal. Uncle Botao’s life covers wars and dictatorship. And lastly, a brain drain that made men like him leave his country temporarily for nearby ones like France. The impressionistic references make this my favourite of the programme.
Being in a family is difficult, or whatever Tolstoy said, and All-Inclusive, the final film in this programme. It shows how unique those difficulties are with Fer (Maximiliano Rojas). Fer goes on a vacation his father Fernando (Leopoldo Serrano), and Fer’s stepmom Natalia (Alejandra Herrera) within Colombia. Fernando blows up on Fer and Natalia and Natalia wants out of the dirty business that Fernando is in. That climactic fight does feel very kitchen sink-y but in fairness many crime or gangster films have that element especially if female characters are involved. After all, that’s the easiest way to write a female character in a crime film. Thankfully it rises up from archetypal depictions by focusing on its family aspect.
- Rated: NR
- Genre: Animation, Comedy, Crime, Short
- Release Date: 9/8/2022
- Directed by: Carol Nguyen, Duvȧn Duque, Thanasis Neofotistos
- Starring: Leeanna E. Tushabe, Lena Papaligoura, Maximiliano Rojas
- Produced by: Franco Lolli
- Written by: Thanasis Neofotistos
- Studio: Bando à Parte, CRL, Curtas-Metragens, ONF | NFB, SRAB Films
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