TIFF 2014: Short Cuts Canada Program 3 Reviews

The third program of the Short Cuts Canada series is a stellar line-up of shorts about various forms of societal marginalization or the awkwardness felt by being an outcast. There isn’t one out of the bunch that doesn’t muster up true emotion or deeply contemplative thoughts about how we approach and deal with people who don’t share similar privilege.


Light, the debut from filmmaker Yassminn Karajah, might be the weakest thanks to some slightly off kilter visuals, but her tale of a young man forced into performing pre-burial Islamic rites on his deceased mother is an aching tale of personal loss told from an outsiders perspective. It’s filled with palpable stress, grief, and an understandable need for emotional catharsis. The fact that it does this all without looking for pandering sympathy for its main character is admirable.


In Father, Jordan Tannahill tells the story of a young boy forced to drag his junkie father’s lifeless body across a construction site after a botched attempt at stealing copper wire for a fix. A classical and frightening play on how some people wish they were nicer to someone right before they passed away, this short benefits from an electrifying performance by young actor Leo Paddy MacEachern.


In the daring, visually inspired, and sexually explicit Hole, Martin Edralin looks at a middle aged man with physical disability who yearns for sexual release. Depressed and in need of daily help, Billy (a wonderful Ken Harrower) works in a thrift shop by day and at night gives blow jobs through the glory hole of a porno theatre to feel wanted, but he can’t allow the unseen people on the other side to reciprocate because he can’t leave his wheelchair. It’s thoughtful, sympathetic, free of judgement, and also features a great supporting performance from Sebastian Deery as Billy’s primary caregiver.


Chamber Drama

In the subtle power plays of Jeffrey Zablotny’s Chamber Drama, a young intern (Cassie Williams) tries desperately to impress her unimpressed and soon to be out quitting researcher boss (Colin Price) to let her keep her job as an acoustic lab technician thanks to her hypersensitive hearing. It’s a slow burning psychological drama that gets pretty awesome around the halfway point thanks to some great work from the two leads and an almost sweetly ambiguous ending.


There are a pair of visually stunning visual pieces here, as well. Amanda Strong’s Indigo tells the stop-motion animated tale of a young woman imprisoned in an attic who befriends a kindly steampunk-ish spider. Weatherman and the Shadowboxer, from Randall Okita (who was in the SCC line-up last year with Portrait as a Random Act of Violence), tells hypnotic conflicting narratives of two very different brothers

LukLukl Mother .

But the biggest standout here is the debut from Wayne Wapeemukwa, Luk’Luk’l: Mother, an incendiary bit of political commentary that bounces around stylistically like a subversive, but cohesive jazz album. A First Nations sex worker and a white junkie live out marginalized, tragic lives in Vancouver against the backdrop of the now iconic 2010 Canadian victory over the Americans in hockey during the Winter Olympics. It’s tough and bracing, but always on point and unflinching. It builds to a very serious point about nationalistic pride, how people were pushed out of the way for a chance at winning a sporting contest, and how society can turn a blind eye to those most in need of help. It’s strong willed, well acted, and a razor sharp first short for Wapeemukwa.




Sunday, September 7th, 9:45pm, Scotiabank 14

Monday, September 8th, 4:15pm, Scotiabank 9

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Thanks to SPiN TORONTO for sponsoring our TIFF 2014 coverage.