Review: Reflections of the world at home – TYSF 2010

The 2010 Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival continued Thursday night with a selection of 10 short films called “Reflections of the world at home.” The topic was social commentary on issues ranging from the homeless to people talking about what is in their fridge. The filmmaking was very diverse mix of animation, documentary, narrative and performance art.

Butterfly ““ The evening began with a black and white animated film about beauty and the attempt to capture it. The animation is very primitive and direct and makes its point very well.

Peel Me ““ The title refers to the term “Banana Culture” which is a reference to Asian people whose identity consists of their Asian roots as well as Western influences. The film is a mix of real documentary interviews and staged ones, talking to people about growing up in North America but having Asian roots.   The staged performance is excellent and you have no idea which one is which until the very last frame of the film.

It’s Hard Job ““ This guerrilla style documentary focuses on a disabled street performer in Toronto, playing guitar on the street, begging for change, and perhaps looking for some human contact. Its a challenging film because it is hard to tell if the subject is being brought to our attention or being exploited for a film. It is up the viewer to decide.

The Maple Lie ““ A new immigrant to Canada has to deal with the harsh realities of making his way in a new country despite having talents and education that he brought from his home. The film is in black and white and has no dialogue, so it reminded me of the social realities that are seen in Chaplin films from the silent era ““ but without the humour, of course.

Secrets – This is the oldest selection of the night (from 2006) but it was by far the strongest. The film is a series of vignettes of people confessing secrets that they have never told anyone before. The secrets range from the normal every day to the very serious. Director Nadia Tan does an excellent job of creatively depicting the secrets but not always in the most obvious way. The film is extremely well made and she is filmmaker to watch out for.

What’s in Your Fridge? ““ A fun documentary about three young adults and their fridges. One has a messy fridge, one has a clean fridge and the other uses it for storage but doesn’t plug it in at all. The fridge concept tells more about the personalities of each of the people than they may realize.

Red – This performance art piece was filmed in the club district in Hong Kong. The entire film is of artist Jennifer Chan drinking wine and throwing it up over and over as onlookers watch. The film made me want to throw up for more than one reason.

Beauty Queen ““ A very surreal film that mixes animation with live action. By making the character in it almost abstract, it allows the filmmaker to study our perceived notions of beauty and cosmetic surgery.

How to Properly Watch Television ““ Filmed as a black and white instructional video, it turns into a social commentary on commercialism and how it affects society. The film starts off light and humorous but soon takes a dark path in its social statement.

The Human Project: Scars ““ Stories of 4 people and their scars. The documentary explores where and how they received the scars by interviewing them at the place they received them. The film also explores how each of the scars have affected them in their life both positively and negatively.

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Along with writing for TFS, Kelly is a contributing writer for Fangoria Magazine. When he isn’t writing about some underrated film classic, Kelly is a painter and a graphic designer. You can follow him on twitter at @cinemamasters.

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