This year’s Short Cuts Programme 9 may be one of the most pressing, riskiest and surreal programmes at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. We see the struggle of young motherhood, delusional ideas of what life is meant to be, falling in lust with a snake, a reserve at odds with the mining industry, an unimpressed daughter, and two lovers leaving their old lives behind and transiting to their next life stage on their own. What we can see these shorts have in common is the struggle to find solace, normality and maybe even sanity in everyday life. This selection takes an unreal (at times) yet sensitive approach to a collective issue an individual may face or discover within themselves.

The Road to Webequie – 19 minutes

The short focuses on a First Nations reserve, which is a long, snowy road away from Thunder Bay, where life is lonely and often faced with personal tragedy. The community is unfairly propositioned by a mining company that views this particular spot as an opportune location to start up their business. However, the residences of Webequie are hesitant to believe the promises of the mining company and fear this will push them out of their homes, leaving them in a worse state then before. We are given a startling glimpse into the lives the residences face within their community through interviews and insight given by youth and their families. One of the stronger shorts of the programme that deserves attention.

Paraya – 13 minutes

A slightly depressing, yet surprisingly powerful, Paraya follows a struggling young mother through the uncertain and dangerous streets of South Africa. She is on her own with a baby, but has some questions she wants answered. When she ventures out, leaving baby behind to find the father of her child, she discovers something that makes her feel more alone than ever. On returning to her baby at her parents, she is left to think this child may be all she has left.

Decorado – 11 minutes

This animated short is simultaneously surreal, eerie, scary, insightful, mesmerizing and frightening. The short centres around a husband who believes he is experiencing a delusion that all his life is a theatrical stage or set. The short tells audiences we build our own sets in life and are surrounded by deranged and off-colour characters, yet it’s what makes our life unique and most of all “our stage.”

Wild Skin – 19 minutes

Probably one of the strangest films of the programme. The short follows around an unnamed, solitary woman who just gives you the creeps. One day she hears a noise coming from a vent in her apartment. She opens the vent and a snake falls out. She is curious at first, but begins to develop an eerie and intimate closeness to the snake. She feeds it mice, and even dreams about it joining her in the bath. You will be left with many questions, but apparently she has a powerful lust for a snake.

Small Fry – 7 minutes

Probably one of the weaker shorts in the programme and is way too short to even go anywhere. A girl goes on vacation to see her father. They meet, drive around, car dance, and eat fast food. During their time together, the father drops some unexpected news on his daughter which she does not know how to take. The short carries a tongue-in-cheek tone and ends in a way that will make you think, “what did I just watch?”

Also featured in Short Cuts Programme 9 is Transition which faces love, romance and pertinent LGBTQ issues through a sex change operation while both lovers shed their old life behind for one where they are truly themselves.

Is Short Cuts Programme 9 essential festival viewing?

While Decorado and The Road to Webequie definitely count as the strongest shorts, they’re not enough to make Short Cuts Programme 9 essential.

Short Cuts Programme 9 screening times

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