The deeper meaning of human interaction and personal relationships seems to be the unifying concept behind the shorts in this year’s second, Quebec filmmaker heavy Short Cuts Canada package.
In the best of the shorts, Elizabeth Lazebnik’s Russian language meditation Liompa, an old man on his death bed realizes that not only will be not be able to take anything with him into the afterlife aside from guilt and regret, but he’s come to the sobering realization that everything he ever loved slowly fell away from him almost without notice. Essentially a lengthy monologue, ever word feels true and lived in. More importantly, it feels philosophically important and relevant to the overall human condition. There’s a vitality to its sense of loss.
In the sweet, but slight Take Me (Prends-Moi), an orderly assigned to the intimacy room at a facility for the developmentally disabled gets weirded out by having to help a husband and wife have sex. At a little under ten minutes, it’s just long enough, and while it’s not the best short this year to deal with the intersection of intercourse and disability (that would be program three’s Hole), there’s a sweetness to this one by the end that’s undeniably a story about learning what true love is all about.
In the playful and highly entertaining hybrid of dance and animation CHAINREACTION, a pair of dancers find themselves drawn to each other and kept apart in very creative ways. It’s very kinetic and features some spectactularly spot on dancing and choreography from Dana Gingras and Sarah Doucet to go along with some equally fast paced animation. It’s a marvelous technical achievement.
I’m not quite as sold on Robin Aubert’s On Cement (Sur le ciment), which is too underdeveloped for its purposefully distancing approach. A young man spray-paints his phone number all over the city and is called upon by an elderly woman looking for companionship and potentially one last sexual encounter. The performances are great and Aubert has an eye for the austere, but the woman is written far too obviously, and the actions and motivations of the young man are seemingly non-existant. It feels like only half a film.
I’m similarly confounded by Marie-Eve Juste’s The Sands (Plage de Sable), which starts off as an intriguing story of class set against one of the most Canadian backdrops possible: friends getting together in cottage country. But this story of a young black man who tags along as the younger boyfriend of one of the core group changes its focus part way through and never looks back at the more intriguing ramifications of its initial set-up. This one feels like it would be better suited to play out long form than as a short, but there’s definite potential there.
Finally, Bison, the latest film from Kevan Funk (whose Yellowhead was a highlight of last year’s shorts program) was unavailable to screen at press time. I do want to catch up to it though, as Funk returns to the dark side of the prairies again for this one. It’s one of my more anticipated films of the festival in any program. (Andrew Parker)
Saturday, September 6th, 10:00pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 3
Monday, September 8th, 2:30pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 4