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Worldwide Short Film Festival Review: Opening Night

Last night I headed to the opening Gala screening at the Worldwide Short Film Festival. The theme of the evening, though ostensibly featuring award-winners from around the world, seemed rather to be "let's depress Katherine". Which isn't to say the films were bad, just that I'm a little sensitive. My thicker-skinned sister Sam was duly amused.

So - short reviews for short films.

First out of the gate was Lucky - a short from South Africa. Touching and sad.

It tells the story of Lucky, a boy who moves in with his uncle in the big city after his mother's death, and the unlikely friend he makes in the racist older Indian woman who lives next door. The kid who plays Lucky is an adorable, wide-eyed angel, and carries the film effortlessly.

C-note - the Canadian offering. Animated migraine.

An experimental animated piece. I can tell that Chris Hinton worked really hard. That said, I hated it. Seven minutes of acid jazz and meaningless abstract jittery shapes and scribbles. It felt like the fest was trying to prove that Canadians are edgy and artistically beyond narrative.

Hungary's Before Dawn is impressive, subtle and surprising.

The short is all one long take, real time, and manages to be deadpan-funny and also address immigration issues. Just choreographing the vehicles involved must have been a herculean task - yet it seems so quiet and unassuming.

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City Paradise - from the UK. Lots of fun, candy-coloured, inventive.

I loved this short. It uses 2-D animation and live-action to tell the story of a girl moving to London, and makes excellent use of the 'fish out of water' metaphor.

Terra Incognita - hails from Switzerland. Stylish, funny, very well edited.

This short uses vintage footage (with deliberate paste-ins), somber narration, and incredibly detailed live-action sequences to tell the fairy-tale of an explorer-inventor in search of nanopol - the land of zero-gravity. I envy Peter Vokart (the writer), because this is one heck of a story.

Guide Dog- U.S.A. Cute and depressing in that Wile E. Coyote way.

This simple animated film features the most adorable dog ever drawn attempting to get and maintain his position as a guide dog. Of course tragic things happen to the blind people in his care, it's a cartoon. I was horrified, because I'm too serious, but my sister thought it riotously funny.

Jellybaby - Ireland. Funny, yet depressing (see above).

In this short, a young dad and his wife are in torments because their son cries all the time. Desperate times call for desperate measures. And when a near-identical baby, in an identical pram, in identical clothes appears, yet has the calmest disposition ever (I swear that baby must be the most amiable actor ever) - well, what would you do? I can't laugh at baby-napping. But if you can, enjoy.

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Surprise -Germany. Outlandish, sickly funny.

Boyfriend sneaks into girlfriend's house to make her dinner. Boy is calamitous. Girl has sickest sense of humour ever. Everything, everything, everything goes wrong. Painfully so. If it didn't end the way it did, the sheer audacity of awfulness would be criminal. You laugh out of relief that the story dodges it's way out of total and utter tragedy.


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