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The Worldwide Short Film Festival presents six award winning short films from around the world showcasing different styles, genres and subjects. The common thread between all the films, besides their award winning accolades, is a skillful mastery of condensed storytelling sure to leave audiences enthralled. This programme is opening the festival on Tuesday May 31 at 7 pm at Bloor Cinema, and screening again on Sunday June 5th at 9:30 pm the Royal Ontario Museum.

Bukowski

The film, in it’s Canadian premiere, follows a young boy who channels the late writer after reading “Pleasures of the Damned” on a family vacation. The boy (Miles van der Lely), calling himself Charles Bukowski, is found wandering a palatial hotel at night by some of the staff. With drink in hand and witticisms a-plenty the boy charms the employees in a wonderfully spirited caricature of the famed author. Winner of the Film Prize of the City Of Urecht at the Netherlands Film Festival.

Bukowski, a film from the Netherlands, directed by Daan Bakker, is a wonderfully shot film that would surely elate the hearts of Bukowski fans. Even if you were not familiar with the writer, the film still entertains because of its young lead who is so committed to his imaginary persona. The film avoids coming across as pretentious as a result of its subject matter and is instead charming and funny. It celebrates imagination, fantasy, inspiration and ironically, being yourself.

West of the Moon

The dreamy musings of an old man set the stage for this surreal tale. Touching on everything from love, death, hope, despair and happiness, West of the Moon envelopes the imagination and pleases the senses. Animation blends with live action to paint the dreamstate in the film inspired by a book of children’s dreams by Roger Omar titled, “El Monstruo de Colores No Tiene Boca”. The film had won awards at several festivals including, the Santa Barbara Film Festival, Florida Film Festival, Aspen Shorts Fest, the Carmel Art and Film Festival and the Rushes Short Film Festival.

This film is a complete joy to behold. It resonates with such bold, unbridled imagination as to inspire the soul. It comes as no surprise that the film is inspired by the dreams of children. It makes no excuses for what it is and has such a hopeful beauty, even in its darker moments. West of the Moon , is very reminiscent of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s films (especially Amélie ), but it is a pleasing comparison and adds a sense of familiarity that only strengthens the charm of the film. The short film is a perfect length, captivating and leaving the viewer wanting more. The awards this film has won are well deserved and audiences will receive their reward when viewing it.

Big Bang Big Boom

This is a stop motion animation of infinite proportions. Mixed-media artist Blu uses simple tools and mediums to create a work that is anything but simple. The images take the viewer through a journey from the beginning of time to the end of all life on earth. Big Bang Big Boom lives up to its name because, for a short film it is very, very big. Winner of the Anim’est Trophy Award, Prix du Public, at the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival and already a viral hit on the internet.

There are some films that just have to be seen. Words could never do justice to the unbelievable artistic endeavour that is Big Bang Big Boom. It is truly awe inspiring, not just in its execution but in its subject matter also. The sheer effort put into the piece is more than can be believed and it is something miraculous to behold. It inspires by its sheer audaciousness and relentless creativity. A truly remarkable film from a truly remarkable artist.

Lipsett Diaries (Les Journaux De Lipsett)

Theodore Ushev creates an emotionally and visually complex piece of animation which illuminates Canadian filmmaker Arthur Lipsett’s life. A blend of charcoal animation techniques, this film moves and flows as erratically as the artist’s life it portrays. A heart-wrenching piece that is absolutely raw and psychologically convoluted. This Canadian film won the Genie award for Best Animation Film.

The film instantly had a very Canadian feel to it. The distinctive charcoal animation reminiscent of so many National Film Board animations from the 1970s anchors the piece firmly in Canada. It is a story set in Canada, but not a typical Canadian story. It is a sad tale of alcoholism and family turmoil. It is a difficult piece to watch both emotionally and visually. The subject matter is abrasive and raw and the shaking and jarring animation reflects that. It is truly moving, though it was somewhat uncomfortable and drawn out. Not knowing the subject matter beforehand was a hindrance to my enjoyment of the piece and I would suggest that anyone who intends to see this film take a look into the work and life of Arthur Lipsett before seeing the film. Knowing more about his life and influences on film, make me more curious about the man and therefore appreciate the film even more.

Na Wé Wé (You Too)

Na Wé Wé tells the tale of a group of citizens who are stopped on the road during the brutal genocide in Rawanda. A platoon of Hutu soldiers question the frightened travelers who must prove they are not their Tutsi enemies. Directed by Ivan Goldschmidt, this Barundi, Belgum collaboration is a very dark comedy that frightens one second and elates the next. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 2011 and the way it handles such a sensitive subject with whimsical austerity deserves recognition and praise.

There was something unexplainable about the film. Its subject matter is so brutal, but all of that nastiness and horror is far behind the scenes. The characters all know what is happening, but the film does not accentuate the political nightmare surrounding the film. The anticipation and relief that ebbs and flows from the film is captivating and the humour injected into the film is astounding, considering what it is about. It is hard to believe that there is a ‘feel good’ tale about the Hutu and Tutsi conflict, but Na Wé Wé pulls it off with a dignified pleasantness, finding humour and hope in the darkest of human times.

The Lost Thing

The Lost Thing is the story of a boy who finds a ‘thing’ while collecting bottle caps on the beach. Not knowing what it is or what to do with it he searches for a place that the ‘thing’ can belong. Animated in a wonderful style using computer animation the wonderful imagery and lovely story is an absolute treat to watch. Based on the book by Shaun Tan, this Australian film has won almost 30 awards including the Academy Award for best animated short.

The Lost Thing is nothing less than a celebration of imagination. In a world where everything is recognizable — yet totally different than our own –, the themes of the story resonate with clarity. Friendship, adventure, loss and belonging are at the center of this magnificent world. The film has the look of a Tim Burton film but with a brighter, more pleasant appearance. The Lost Thing is a treasure trove of visual delights that sets your mind racing with fantastical ideas and your eyes dancing at the endless sights populating every frame of the film. It is a triumph of visual storytelling that can be enjoyed over and over again.

The Worldwide Short Film Festival runs from May 31 to June 5, 2011. Check their website for showtimes and details.