Toronto After Dark 2018: Our Review of the Canadian Shorts Program

Toronto After Dark 2018: Our Review of the Canadian Shorts Program

This year, the Toronto After Dark Film Festival is showing its first batch of Canadian shorts, which value in quality. I’m also looking for the connective tissue between the shorts, and the theme here is gender power dynamics. These shorts express that theme and more through different media. And there are more science fiction shorts here but the past figures in one of them.

And that one is Sylvie Trouve and Dayle Howard’s Bone Mother, about the titular bone collector. She gets an unexpected visit from an Eastern European prince. Is she trapping him or is he invading her space? This is my least favorite short in the showcase, but some in the audience can admire the detailed stop animation.

Bone Mother also uses neon blue to present supernatural powers and so does Mily Mumford’s Gemini. It’s the first of many science fiction shorts in this program. It takes place in two worlds, one in virtual reality and another in real reality. And in the latter, a woman (Donna Benedicto) confronts a man (Cody Kearsley) who abuses her in the former. Gripping, important stuff, and Benedicto shows star potential.

Roney’s Glitter’s Wild Women has an earthier color palette but a more nebulous plot. Two women (Grace Glowicki and Cotey Pope) who live in rural North America organize a local film festival. And their planning skills aren’t the best. The script has robotic dialogue but it adds to the short’s mystery. That what it’s trying and failing to do anyway.

The program saves the best for last with Ashlea Wessel’s TiCK. It depicts a child’s nightmare as raw as a short can do so. That child is Nishiime (Ava Close), a vampire who still dreams of her missing sister Wenona (Brooke Debassige). It’s as realistic as a science fiction short can get, its metaphors more complex as Nishiime gains more agency. It’s always nice to see girls fight back.

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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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