Back at the start of March, I went to my first screening for the Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival and had a great time watching films in the T24 Project. I’m very exciting to be rejoining the critics circle surrounding the TYSFF, a great initiative that gives young filmmakers between the ages of 14 and 28 an opportunity to screen their work in an enthusiastic and supportive environment. I’m even more excited to be on the Online Film Critics panel. I received my first ever screener yesterday in the mail and, once I started watching, right away noticed a few things.
Many of the films are animated and very brief, yet all still tell very sweet, compelling or funny stories – some in under two minutes. Many are produced by students at Sheridan College, York University, or the Hart House Film Board at the University of Toronto. Here are some synopses of some of my favorites so far.
A playful seeing-eye dog stars in this animated film where he must choose between his desire to play and his duty to help his owner cross the street. The setting is a single intersection, and the background is constant with the characters moving around within it. The beauty and comedy in this film lays in the subtle animation of the dog’s facial features and the complete obliviousness of his owner. There’s no dialogue, but his facial expressions say volumes. This dog actually reminds me of my own chocolate lab, Buck, who is very very sweet but is obsessed with his favorite ball and would probably do anything to get it. Either way, this film will definitely bring a smile to your face.
This documentary is the longest film of the selections I’ve seen thus far, clocking in at around 13 minutes, but not a single one is wasted. Director Trevor Chartrand stars in his film about why it is that people love to watch bad movies. He takes the film The Room (2003) as his best example, a film which has earned itself the title of the worst movie ever. It has grown to have an enormous cult following and all the perks that come with it, like midnight showings and merchandise. Chartrand and his subjects agree that the fun of watching a bad movie is the amplified experience you get from when shared with a like-minded audience. I like the simplicity and transparency of this kind of documentary format, featuring interviews with film critics and enthusiasts alike. The final thought I was left with was “Wow, I guess I really should watch The Room one of these days”. Thanks Trevor!
This was a sweet narrative film about a girl, played by Rachel Parent, who fantasizes about growing up and becoming a beautiful woman some day. She dances around an immaculately dressed room, filled with vintage furniture, clothes and a beautiful music box. The music for this film was composed by Joseph Trefler and is a perfect complement to this simple yet effective film. There is a slight twist at the end with the entrance of the older sister, at which point the music stops and we’re just as alarmed as our star. This film is the perfect definition of short and sweet.
The most important thing I can say about this film is that it’s a gem. Such a simple idea and simple animation that is so effective and funny. The title isn’t a typo, it’s about the littlest ostrich in its flock who’s ostracised (haha, get it??) because of its height. It had a cute moral, showing that everyone plays a part, even if they’re a little different. The comedy in this movie is from the repetition which is suddenly broken at the most unexpected times. I was really captivated by the simplicity of this story and its animation. I know it will make any audience chuckle and feel warm and fuzzy with its moral.
In this animated film without dialogue, a unique couple goes out together, only to be pulled apart by a steaming temptress. Little does that temptress know that the girl has a little sssssssomething special to keep her man . I think my favourite part is the kiss at the end of the film, it’s very cute touch and made me smile and laugh out loud. The animation in this is very rounded and the anatomy is altogether different. I really enjoyed this film stylistically as much as I enjoyed the story. And that’s saying something considering it involves a transformation into something I really do not enjoy in real life haha.
The Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival takes place from June 2nd to 3rd at Innis Town Hall. Come out and enjoy some quality films made by talented young filmmakers!