Short Films at TIFF 2015 Part 1

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While seeing the premiere of an anticipated feature is a highlight of any film festival, there’s something special about seeing several short film premieres simultaneously. Whether it’s the compressed nature or the lack of promotion, short films are a special treat at events like the Toronto International Film Festival. What’s incredible about TIFF’s selection is that are simply so many films to choose from. TIFF groups together all of it’s short films into what it calls “Short Cuts” programmes, each containing several short films making their debut. What’s great is that you get little bit of everything with these collections. Some are comedic and heart-warming, others are intense and dramatic. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll see a wide variety cinematic styles and inevitably want more. I was lucky enough to get a ticket the 7th programme of this year’s festival and was treated to some amazing films. Here’s part 1 of my short reviews of the shorts I saw at TIFF 2015.

(OTTO)

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Most children have imaginary friends, but what happens when someone takes them as their own. By the same directors of the Oscar-nominated short film A Single Life, (OTTO) is the story of a little girl and her imaginary friend Otto. While it isn’t a sharp as their previous short, (OTTO) provides some charming moments and some clever takes on how we interact children and their imaginary friends. Definitely worth a watch.

Concerning the Bodyguard

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Based on the short story written by Donald Barthelme, Concerning the Bodyguard is a wonderful satirical piece of the thoughts and life of a bodyguard for an important official. The only dialogue in the short is the narration provided by the esteemed Salman Rushdie, who probably looked at the shorts premise and thought it was right up his alley. A pure pleasure to watch and can’t wait do it again. I hope this gets some kind of award nod.

Never Happened 

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I thought I knew how this short was going to play out. A man, away from his wife, succumbs to temptation while on a business trip with a colleague. They agree that it was a mistake and to move on from it. At this point I think the short is over. It’s the humorous sci-fi twist that happens afterwards that takes me by surprise. A wonderful example of the power of a good twist, it totally changed my perception of the short as a whole. Interesting to see if this makes it beyond the Canadian festival circuit, as it’s definitely a short that I think would reach a wide audience.

Benjamin

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Miscarriage is one of the most difficult things for a couple to experience, and sometimes it can tear them apart. What’s different about Benjamin is the child lost is the child of a lesbian who’s partner is a surrogate for their gay friends’ son. Not only is the loss hard on the mother, but the sudden tragedy imposes a rift and a seemingly impossible request of their friends to keep this child that they had originally agreed to merely be surrogates for as their own. The performances are incredible and the anguish is palpable in every scene. The one downside to the short is that while there is a resolution of sorts, it feels rushed and very little closure is given to the audience. Overall though it’s still incredibly moving.

These were just some of the shorts I saw at TIFF this year. Stay tuned for part 2, where we explore some of the more artistic shorts of Short Cuts Programme 7


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