TIFF is a big, glitzy, fevered frenzy of films each year with a massive programme of films that exceeds any major festival in this city, and rivals that of any major festival in the world. Every year TIFF programmes a stellar Canadian lineup of films, but they also present Short Cuts Canada, a series of programmes of short films made by Canadian filmmakers.
Given the incredible amount of hype surrounding the major films at the festival, Short Cuts Canada is frequently pushed to the side, only attended by those with a serious passion for Canadian film. This is a shame, because not only are Short Cuts Canada some of the best programmes of the festival, but they frequently showcase talent from the next generation of Canadian filmmakers.
“I think what’s interesting this year is that short filmmakers I think really succeed when they don’t accept convention,” programmer Alex Rogalski says of the Short Cuts Canada programming for the 2013 Festival. “When they throw convention away and come up with new forms and mash a number of genres together. They take risks and I think it’s always the reward of a short film when you see those risks taken and often those risks end up influencing feature films down the road.”
There are a number of returning filmmakers in the programmes, including Academy Award winner Chris Landreth, whose film Subconscious Password screens in Programme 1. “Chris is always experimenting with animation and all forms of it,” Rogalski says, “so it’s really quite unique.”
“This year is definitely a great year for animation and really just technical experimentation,” programmer Alex Rogalski says of the Short Cuts Canada programming for the 2013 Festival. “In the animation in our 3D films, and in a lot of the films, I think the filmmakers are really using tools that are available to them to find new ways of telling stories that I think are quite different from the way features are being done.”
He goes on to note that Theodore Ushev’s film Gloria Victoria, also screening in Programme 1, is not to be missed. “He’s extremely prolific and just a real genius when it comes to using animation as an art form outside of what I think people imagine animation to be. He takes it into just a pure art form. He’s got a film this year that completes a trilogy of work that he’s working on for almost a decade now.
This completes the trilogy called the Twentieth Century trilogy, appropriately enough and he put in Russian constructivist elements, tackling ideas of art versus violence. It’s extremely sophisticated animation and these are really high level concepts being addresses through an art form that really succeeds in the short form. The way most people are familiar with short films is through animation, but this is mature animation, this is meant for real cinephiles who will appreciate it as an art form.”
Rogalski also suggests that Festival attendees should not miss James Wilkes’ Young Wonder and Sol Friedman’s Beasts in the Real World, both part of Programme 2.
He also notes that there are a number of filmmakers here that are likely to make the leap to features quite soon, and fans of Canadian film should keep an eye on them. Those filmmakers include Fantavious Fritz and Stephen Dunn. Fritz’ film Paradise Falls (Programme 4) is described as Wes Anderson meets the Brothers Grimm and take a new look at the coming-of-age story, while Dunn’s film We Wanted More (Programme 3) is a psychological thriller that looks at a singer on the brink of mental crisis on the eve of her first world tour.
While many Canadian filmmakers get their start in shorts before beginning a career in feature film, they often don’t abandon the artform, returning again and again to make short films. Rogalski notes that this is often because shorts are a quicker, easier way to get their vision to the screen with many fewer constraints. “Many of them will return to making short films because they want to keep working and keep exercising their creative abilities and they know there’s just no strings in the shorts world,” he says. “They can do what they want to, which is exciting when you see those filmmakers really get to do what they want. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen in the feature world, it does, it just can be a longer process to make that happen because there can be so many more interests at play, but there’s no strings attached in the shorts world.”
“It’s definitely raised the bar on what we’re seeing in the capacity of what people can do in a short film. They are no longer films that suffer from a lack of resources. When they have the technical ability to pull off what they’re doing, it’s really their time is the biggest commitment. The cost isn’t as heavy or prohibitive as it used to be.”
That certainly shows in the films presented in this year’s six Short Cuts Canada programmes, all of which are screening throughout the Festival. Despite the fact that those films are best viewed on the big screen (especially those in 3D), TIFF has teamed up with YouTube this year to present all Short Cuts Canada films online during the Festival. To see them, check out TIFF’s YouTube channel playlist.
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