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TIFF presents the eighth annual Student Film Showcase , a programme that screens the work of student filmmakers from across Canada. The showcase takes place on May 24 (tonight), first in Toronto, then on to Vancouver (for the first time) on May 26. Twelve student films were selected this year and each student will participate in a panel discussion with animator/director Larry Jacobs, as well as filmmakers Kari Skogland and Jacob Tierney.

This unique screening opportunity for young filmmakers introduces audiences to homegrown talent. Past Showcase films have advanced to screen at other festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival and Sundance.

The programme consisted of the following films:

Basic Space

Not everyone is “cut out” to co-habitate. Using paper-craft animation, this visually inventive film is a playful story of two roommates’ struggle for inner peace in the cramped quarters of communal living. ( TIFF programming note )

Paper. Such a neat and original idea. Using paper cut outs and backgrounds was something unique, especially its inventive use of origami. I found Basic Space funny and cute but also relatable as I, like most people, understand the joys of having to deal with cramped urban spaces. I also  enjoyed the music in lieu of dialogue ““ clean and simple.

Blink

Grabbing social media obsessions by the horns, Blink tells the story of a young man losing himself and the people around him to the traps of a social networking website and its questionable safety. ( TIFF programming note )

This is such a strong and well done short film, that could definitely become a feature film. The core idea, the characters and the general feel and look were very well executed. Blink really got me thinking about how far social media addiction could go and how our lives slowly become the virtual world we see.

Bramula

A witty homage to Nick Park’s Creature Comforts claymation shorts, Bramula tells the tale of a seemingly ordinary house cat who just might be a reincarnated vampire “” though as the only evidence is his tendency to sleep all day and avoid garlic-flavored tuna, it’s hard to tell for sure. ( TIFF programming note )

I loved this short! The narrator’s voice was a perfect match to the story and the use of plasticine added that extra bit of strange that really suited the film. After all, a rhyme about a vampiric cat — beyond amazing!

The Dimming

“Long ago the world lived in darkness. No light to warm the earth, no moon to comfort wounded souls.” Mixed animation techniques are used to illustrate a tragic Inuit folk tale of the creation of the sun and moon. ( TIFF programming note )

The visuals of sensual/sin were very enjoyable, particularly in the use of Inuit native tongue used to tell the story. I hadn’t heard this story before and it made for a perfect short film.

Fat

“Do you think I’m fat?” is a hard question to pose and a harder one to answer. Fat is a sensitive, personal documentary that boldly confronts the uncomfortable issues it raises. ( TIFF programming note )

The film layers the main character’s friend’s voices to be overwhelming and intense. It really forces you to zone in on the discomfort we feel about the subject of being ‘fat’. The film feels very personal, especially with all the close-ups and the (harsh) honesty from the main character’s friends. In the end it was up to us to decide: is she fat?

Guilt, Or

Sitting smugly behind a newspaper glaring at his wife, the inner monologue of a malcontent husband unfurls as he watches her work in the kitchen in this scathing and spot-on comic consideration of mid-life marriage. ( TIFF programming note )

This short is truthful, hilarious and wastes no time getting to the point. Who hasn’t had an inner monologue about the person you love as they are sitting right there? Love is a strange thing and marriage is even stranger, this movie shows the raw truth of both.

Leash

Months after looking for their missing dog, Alan and his father receive a misleading phone call. Leash tackles the delicate subject of learning to let go while treasuring the memories left behind. ( TIFF programming note )

Leash starts with a strong image and builds. Emotionally, I could really sense the tension between the son and the father right from the start. The film’s final scene is amazing and left me with a big, happy grin.

My Name is Mitch

Neither man nor beast, the solitary Mitch is only able to find his place among birds. A stunning and moving animated film about self-acceptance. ( TIFF programming note )

My initial feeling was that of total alienation and discomfort. I thought the bird-man idea was strange, but there was something about it that really appealed to me. The film uses images of pigeons in the city to allude to a hidden and powerful meaning: we walk by pigeons in the city everyday and never really see them, although they clearly see us. Regardless, this film made me think, and I like that it did.

Not Worth Mentioning

A young woman’s puppetry performance at a children’s party takes a turn when she enters closed quarters with the birthday girl’s dad. Sensitive and daring, Not Worth Mentioning explores the emotional terrain between fantasy and reality. ( TIFF programming note )

This film started out like it was going to be cute and entertaining, but then everything changes and doesn’t ever go back. This film is intense. The story itself is hard to accept, but when coupled with close-ups and magnified sounds it was almost too much. By the time the film ended I felt sick. This film has lasting images that will stick with you long after the credits roll.

Paso Doble

A striking animation, Paso Doble presents a passionate, then violent, tango between a woman and a man-turned-bull, which leaves her fighting for her life. ( TIFF programming note )

The director’s use of colour, especially red and black utilized animation to its fullest to morph one image into the next. This short was very well conceived and the animation was spectacular.

Shuffleboard Kings

In this clever comedy, recent widower Bert is asked to join the local seniors’ shuffleboard team and soon has to defend the old guard’s pride against a gang of bullies. ( TIFF programming note )

Shuffleboard Kings was hilarious! The casting of main character Bert was excellent, as he knew exactly how to use expression to convey what he was thinking. This is a genuinely lovable short, that will keep you laughing until the very last minute — and even a little after!

Yearning

Documenting the ravages of the war in Iraq, this raw yet poetic observation illuminates the vestiges of humanity that remain after decades of assault, giving voice to victims caught in the crossfire. ( TIFF programming note )

The visuals in this film are stronger than any words could ever be. The film begins powerfully with the narrator saying ” until I heard him speak,” while the images move to a man who is speaking, but there is no sound.   The filmmaker understood the difference between seeing and hearing, and removes the choice between these two senses, placing the focus on increasingly intense and horrific images. You cannot look away until the film is over.

This year’s Student Film Showcase is very strong. Don’t miss this opportunity to find the next stand-out Canadian director. The Showcase begins tonight at 7:00 pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox. For more information and tickets visit TIFF’s website.