Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Toronto After Dark 2008 - International Shorts

Short films were represented in two different ways at this year's Toronto After Dark festival: the Canadian Shorts that preceded each feature film and a series of International ones strung together in a single screening. Looking back, the Canadian Shorts seemed to be far and away the class of the field. There was an extraordinary amount of creativity and laugh out loud humour in most of the submissions we were treated to.

The International set didn't fare quite as well, but it really had some tough competition (my understanding was that the amount of Canadian submissions to the festival FAR outstripped the international ones, so there was a greater herd from which to cull).

A few long overdue notes on the International crop:

The Attack of the Robots from Nebula-5 (Chema Garcia Ibarra - 6 minutes)

A very well done account of loneliness and a terrific start to the program. A young man is convinced that the Earth and all its inhabitants are about to be wiped out by aliens - except for whoever is in a very specific location at a certain time of day. The problem is, he doesn't actually know which day...Funny and sad.

Doxology (Michael Langan - 5 minutes)

The After Dark web sites lists this film as "Experimental". Yeah, no kidding...I haven't a clue what it was about, but it certainly showed a great deal of creativity in each skit-like moment with loads of spiffy visuals (a guy doing the Tango with a car; a bunch of guys standing with tennis rackets whacking tennis balls miles into the air; etc.).

The Goblin Man of Norway (Jay Cheel - 24 minutes)

No mere mockumentary, this is a remarkable film about the discovery of the "Goblin Man". Cheel (one of the folks behind The Documentary Blog) builds his entire mythology through well put together back story and talking heads. His interview subjects are actual real life experts in their fields, but there's not a hint of acting throughout. His technique of gaining the footage is a master stroke in making the film feel true to life. I assume the film was a bit too long to be included as one of the Canadian Shorts, so it was included in this program - simply because it was too good to be left out. Part 1 of the film follows below (Parts 2 and 3 should be easily found from Part 1):

Transrexia (Aurelio Voltaire - 1 minute)

The Queen (Walter Krudop - 1 minute)

Short portion of film here.

Both films had such interesting and striking visuals that I didn't have time to actually focus on what they were about before they were finished. Each sure had me curious though...In particular, I'd love to see something longer from Krudop as the world he created in "The Queen" was very intriguing.

Notes from the Acrid Plain (Jonathan Ashley - 15 minutes)

A very dry attempt to recreate an old style nature film but with a look at the odd habits and customs of creatures living on the "acrid plain". An interesting concept, but it just seemed to drag on and on. Hmmm, maybe it did capture those old nature films pretty well after all...

Martians Go Home: The Revenge of Sara Clockwork (Dani Moreno - 20 minutes)

More 80s cheesy goodness with green goo and home made effects. And anything with a theremin in it has got to be pretty entertaining.

Shut-Eye Hotel (Bill Plympton - 7 minutes)

The creator of this year's animated feature "Idiots and Angels" contributes a short film to the mix as well. This is a highly entertaining and creative take on a noir tale of mysterious killings at the Shut-Eye Hotel. Great use of the genre conventions and inspired humour. My favourite film of the session.

Kingz (Benjamin Diez and Marinko Spahic - 20 minutes)

An overlong murky ugly looking film with a decent idea - martial arts skilled aliens who suck out people's brains are under cover as drug lords. The protagonists aren't exactly likeable and the stunts and action scenes cheated far too much with effects to have any excitement about them.

I Live In The Woods (Max Winston - 3 minutes)

What a fantastic way to finish off the screening. A frenzied purple bearded guy wreaks havoc in the woods before doing the same above the clouds. There's a brilliant transition from silly/goofy to all out frenzy and the crowd ate it up.


James McNally said...

I love that more shorts are actually finding their way onto YouTube, in their entirety! Maybe some of these might find their way onto the quirky Wholphin DVDs.

Jonathan said...

Jay's Goblin Man is so, so cool. I remember people watching it online and thinking it was for real. It is very convincing.

Bob Turnbull said...

James, it is pretty cool that you can find many of these online - I'm typically surprised these days when I can't find one.

Jonathan, yep Goblin Man is very effective. Jay mentioned that at the fest and I can absolutely see why some people might not be quite sure whether it was a truthful tale or not.