Sunday marked the end of the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. For two weeks Drake’s Six turned into a film Mecca, with fancy premieres, big studio films, and Oscar buzz. But naturally we wanna talk about short films!
The Short Cuts Program had 56 films this year from all over the world, and the themes were wide-ranging. An assortment of A-list celebs were involved in short films this year, and a strong Cannes influence was also undeniable, with eight films that were selected in either the Official Selection, the Critics’ Week or the Directors’ Fortnight earlier this year. We also enjoyed catching up on new work from S/W alums, as a couple of them brought new films to the festival. Speaking of alums, we were also excited to see two of them on the jury! Molly McGlynn who was featured with 3-Way (Not Calling) and Michael Pearce of Keeping Up with the Joneses.
Having seen the full program, let me share sneak peaks of my 12 standouts, starting with the jury winners and continuing through to my personal faves. Look forward to several of these premiering on the site in full in the upcoming months (some quite soon!).
Dir: Jérémy Comte
We kick things off with Fauve, which received an Honourable Mention from the jury in the Best Canadian Short section. This Quebecois short premiered at Sundance this year, and has been selected at countless festivals since, winning Oscar qualification status many times over. It is easily one of my favorites of the year and the film team is excited to share it with you very, very soon. So watch this trailer for now, and get hyped!
Dir: Meryam Joobeur
Premiering at the festival, Brotherhood (khwène) won the Best Canadian Short Film Award (and caused my heart to explode with Tunisian pride). Set in rural Tunisia, the film depicts the return home of the eldest of three boys after a quick stint in Syria. Incredibly compelling performances and confident direction allow the film to depict its complex situation with rare authenticity and nuance, making for a truly resonant experience.
We usually focus on directors, but in this case producer Maria Gracia Turgeon deserves a shout-out. Already awarded with Fauve, she was back at the podium again with Brotherhood, and with it scored a second Best Canadian short in a row, after Pre-Drink took the prize last year. Turgeon has the midas touch right now it seems, and Canada has a new superstar producer.
Dir: Sandhya Suri
Awarded the IWC Short Cuts Award for Best Short Film in the international category, The Field is the portrait of Lalla, a female labourer in India who goes against society’s constructs by living a double life. The layered lead performance and visual aesthetic of the film deliver on an emotional level. With this film and Counterfeit Kunkoo both experiencing success on the international festival circuit, it’s been a banner year for feminist short films from India.
Honourable mentions from the jury in the international category recognized both Anette Sidor’s Fuck You, for “its acutely observed study of teenage sexuality”, as well as Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels’s This Magnificent Cake!, a film we profiled in a Q&A with its creators back in June.
Dir: Donato Sansone
Entering the alum section, Donato Sansone is back with his distinct tone of experimental animation. In Bavure, he uses a paintbrush as a narrator, in this captivating and visually striking 5 minute film about mankind.
Dir: Charlotte Regan
London based, BAFTA nominated, and multiple time S/W alum Charlotte Regan is proving quite prolific, and is back with a new fictional short film. In the same vein as her previous films, Dodgy Dave is a witty dark comedy about a peculiar father/son relationship.
Dir: Corina Schwingruber Ilic
Corina is not a directing alum of our site, but her work as an editor was particularly striking in the popular featured short Rewind Forward. In All Inclusive, she takes us on a cruise ship and exposes our culture of excess in a vicious social commentary piece that is pleasing visually, extremely funny, and drolly ironic, but never condescending.
Dir: Reed Van Dyk
To finish off, I want to draw your attention to 6 of the films I can’t get out of my head. Reed Van Dyk follows up to his Oscar-nominated short Dekalb Elementary with Interior, a Norwegian-set film that explores the twisted mother/son relationship of a boy yearning for his mother’s attention. Carried by two strong performances, this provocative film makes audience indifference impossible.
Dir: Shelly Lauman
In her extremely realistic drama, Shelly Lauman shows the blurred lines in our daily lives. In Birdie, an initially polite gesture escalates quickly, turning into a threatening situation. Naturally this all-too-believable nightmare takes place in our favorite place as women—public transportation.
Dir: Sarah Pellerin
Toxic masculinity 101, My Boy reminded me of those memes where the joke is to contrast what you think a situation looks like and what it actually is. So, you think your bachelor party looks like a rapper’s music video… it actually looks like Sarah Pellerin’s film, which is unfortunate for Louis, the brother of the groom-to-be.
Dir: Clara Balzary
Clara Balzary’s film features Joaquin Phoenix as a father to a teenage daughter in a small rural town. His performance is—unsurprisingly—quite stellar, but Sasha Frolova (Red Sparrow) steals the show as the tomboy daughter who escapes her life—at least for the night.
Dir: Zachary Russell
Zachary Russel perfectly mixes genres in 7A, in this futuristic dystopia flick that throws off solid thriller vibes. A regular morning in a woman’s life turns into a life-threatening afternoon. One of the more purely entertaining shorts of the program, the tension in this film definitely gets communicated through the screen.
Dir: Aaron Ries
Aaron Ries explores the often overlooked grandfather/granddaughter relationship in his dark comedy with dashes of fantasy. The different generations disconnect rather than conflict, and awkwardness abounds in the long and hot days of summer.