Toronto is certainly not hurting for film festivals designed to keep local cinephiles busy pouring over programme guides, queuing for tickets or spending long afternoons in darkened theatres. In fact, we have so many that for a hard core festival-goer one can very easily blend into the next. That’s why it’s always such a treat when June rolls around and the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival (WSFF) returns once more to remind us all that films don’t necessarily need to be feature-length to pack a punch and that there’s definitely some merit to that old adage “short and sweet.”
This year, WSFF had 4,768 entries from 113 countries that were submitted for consideration and from those, chose 244 films from 35 countries that will be screened, 207 of which are premieres. That’s a lot to choose from even despite the fact that the films are all helpfully grouped together into programmes centred on a particular subject or theme. Luckily, Toronto Film Scene is on the case and we’ve got a list of recommendations that will be sure to make you the most knowledgeable person in the festival line.
Think you’ve seen the latest movie featuring your favourite movie star? That may not be so. Each year WSFF offers up a programme featuring films peppered with familiar faces and recognizable names. This year’s standouts include Judi Dench as a hilariously love struck senior citizen navigating the unseemly world of flirting via social media in Friend Request Pending , and the tension-filled, BAFTA award-winning Pitch Black Heist featuring 2011’s golden boy Michael Fassbender as a safe cracker with a hidden agenda. Each one highlights exactly what it is about those actors that makes them so much fun to watch on the big screen: Dench as the proper but loopy and slightly saucy grandmother you always wish you’d had and Fassbender is the ever-charismatic and smouldering bad boy with a rich inner life bubbling just below the surface.
This is the perfect programme for ladies night out, especially if you’re looking for some lively discussion after the screening. Each short looks at a different aspect of the female experience, from navigating childhood and young adulthood to the realities of womanhood in other countries. What A Young Girl Should Not Know is a creative list of life truths that everyone finds out sooner or later, told as though embroidered on a pillow by someone’s wise auntie. Unravel is a fascinating 14-minute look inside the textile industry in India, and Big Mouth has some wise advice in the form of a sweetly animated fable starring a maybe-too-truthful little girl named Trudy.
This free programme screens at Dufferin Grove Park and is sure to help you beat the summer heat by planting you square inside snowy December. Each of the six films screening feature a charming (and sometimes heart wrenching) look at the various hallmarks of the Christmas season. Animation fans will adore Christmas Piggy , an Aardman Studios-like Danish film about a wilful pig who’s determined not to be dinner. Those in need of a good cry will enjoy Margo Lily , a sweetly sorrowful depiction of a couple planting a tree in memory of a recent shared loss. And finally, those in a need of a smile will be more than rewarded by Music For One X-Mas And Six Drummers , a clever Swedish offering wherein a group of carollers visiting a retirement home make use of every day items to create their own music. In other words, there’s a little something for everyone.
This programme is worth checking out solely for Scott Thompson‘s hilarious 20-minute film, The Immigrant , about a Canadian comedian trying to navigate the pitfalls of Hollywood. Not surprisingly, it features Thompson’s signature dark absurdist humour and it also has cameos by Michael Cera, Margaret Cho, Will Forte and his old The Kids in the Hall co-star Dave Foley. Luckily, the rest of the programme is pretty great too. Check out the awesome German animated oddity The Changeling and 12-minute doc Odysseus’ Gambit , about a devoted Cambodian-born chess player in New York.
Ever wonder what would happen if Prince were an air conditioner repairman instead of a pop star (who doesn’t)? Well, this programme has the answer ( What If Famous People Weren’t Famous: Prince ), along with an endearing portrait of elderly clubgoer and local Cornwall character, “The Banjo Man” ( Eighty-Eight ) as well as a pair of too-true-for-comfort snapshots of some boisterous ladies’ nights on the town ( Four Doves on the Aerial and Good Night ).
For night owls who are looking to pack as many shorts into one sitting as possible, this year’s WSFF features The Night Shift, a movie marathon of super creepy films that run at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema from 11:30pm until 4:00am, complete with free cupcakes and coffee to keep you amped for the festivities. Standouts amongst this stellar crop of spooky, gross and just plain weird films include: Moxie , Believe The Dance , The Unliving , I Am Your Grandma , Adjust Tracking , Through the Weeping Glass: On the Consolations of Life Everlasting , and The Captured Bird (don’t miss our interview with Director Jovanka Vuckovic and Producer Jason Lapeyre).
Yet another excellent free programme stationed at Dufferin Grove Park and this time geared towards getting kids interested in short film, Flick-Nic is a 64-minute taste of some of the best animated shorts produced in the last year. Kids (and the young-at-heart) will especially love The Gruffalo’s Child , based on the best-selling children’s book about what happens when kids don’t heed their parents’ warnings, and Four , a whimsical 3-minute film fromItaly about a fairy woodland in need of a makeover.
Ever watched a movie at the CN Tower? This year, Towering Shorts offers a morning of family-friendly fun with a handful international shorts aimed at kids. Amongst the many superstars in the programme are Brad & Gary , a 3-minute film from France about a couple of creature trying to survive in the wilderness, and Colosse ““ A Wood Tale , an adorable tale about a woodpecker and a robot puppet. After the films, attendees can take a walk on the CN Tower lookout and then attend a hands-on 3-D animation workshop designed by the NFB Mediatheque.
The CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival runs June 5-10, 2012. For more information visit the website and for more in-depth reviews about these film and more, check back with Toronto Film Scene on June 5.
For more on WSFF, check out our this month’s 5 Questions with Programmer and Interim Artistic Director Angie Driscoll.
Don’t miss any of the coverage on TFS’ featured topic this month. We’ll be exploring short films of all genres and time periods and introducing you to some of the people who make it their business to give short films their due accolades.