This year, the TIFF programs include “Short Cuts Canada”, a compilation of short works by established filmmakers and up-and-comers alike. All come out of Canada and boast Canadian actors as well as scenery. Short films must draw upon a variety of techniques in order to convey their messages in a brief timespan, usually running under forty minutes but often much shorter. The result is often an intense and concentrated piece of film that may be just as powerful as a full-length feature.
We take a look at 2 CFC Short Films being presented at the festival.
Anatomy of Assistance, directed by Cory Bowles and running thirteen minutes, relates the story of Talia, a young girl who reluctantly accepts financial aid from her school but uses it for her own purposes. Talia’s actions set off a chain of events, demonstrating the influence one small act may have on an entire community. The film also touches upon issues regarding social and racial relations.
Talia, portrayed by Keeya King, is a smart and feisty individual. King may not be the strongest actor quite yet, but she approaches her role earnestly and shows potential given that this film marks her acting debut. Bowles makes use of intense music and dramatic camera techniques in order to highlight important moments, and these are conventional short film practises. Instead of adding to the impact of the film, however, these techniques often create moments of over-the-top melodrama. The scenes themselves are powerful enough, and do not require this augmentation to have an impact. Anatomy of Assisance may not always be well executed, but it is definitely well meaning. Hopefully, in the future of what looks like a promising career, Bowles will have enough confidence in his subject matter to allow his scenes to speak for themselves.
Director: Stephen Dunn Writer: Stephen Dunn, Margaret Lester Starring: Christine Horne, Angela Asher, Skyler Wexler Rating: 14A
On the other end of the spectrum is We Wanted More, a very different short film from director Stephen Dunn. This piece, running fifteen minutes, tells the story of Hannah, a singer who becomes ill on the first night of her world tour, and follows her subsequent descent into madness. After a successful initial performance, Hannah begins to second-guess her decision to put motherhood on hold in order to further her career. She is soon visited by a young girl who appears from her own body and forces her to decide where her priorities truly lie.
We Wanted More is a raw and often uncomfortable work of film. Watching Hannah strip off her stage persona, both literally and symbolically, is not pleasant, nor is it meant to be. Christine Horne’s performance is subtle, haunting, and never over done. This film creates horror through its relentless intensity, and unlike the aforementioned piece, it never strays into the realm of melodrama or cheesiness. The sounds and images presented are relentless and unsettling, but they serve a purpose; the audience is made to feel just as uneasy and confused as Hannah herself. We are able to relate to her personal crisis even though it is entirely in her head, and achieving this psychological depth in under fifteen minutes is a feat worth noting. Although it may not be an enjoyable watch, We Wanted More achieves its goal and is an impressive work of film.