Short Cuts Canada

6 must-see Short Cuts Canada films at TIFF 2013

Every year, dozens upon dozens of established auteurs bring their latest and greatest films to Toronto, offering audiences an opportunity to see their most anticipated new films before they open in theatres. But there's another reason why TIFF is so invaluable, which is that they provide a platform, known as Short Cuts Canada (SCC), that is reserved for short-form work by emerging and, sometimes, recognizable Canadian talent. For the unknown filmmaker, this kind of exposure to an international audience of critics and distribution and funding reps is unparalleled, and can often lead to feature film deals.

This year there are again six programs housing 39 films coming from all over the country. I haven't had an opportunity to see the films yet, but I did go through the entire SCC selection and thoroughly researched the films and filmmakers, so I'd like to spotlight a few of the films that stood out to me as especially exciting based on what I could dig up. There are likely many great films in this year's class not included here, and the only way to really spot all of the gems is to go to as many of the programs as possible.

Paradise Falls (Programme 4)
Director Fantavious Fritz - whose name is so awesome I could easily devote this entire paragraph to just gushing about that - is a graduate from Ryerson's Film department. His film Tuesday played in SCC last year, and just one look at the trailer should be enough to convince anyone that this film and filmmaker are something special. Having already demonstrated with his last film that he's skilled with images, he's clearly taken it to a new level with this film, which seems to blend the whimsy of adolescence and Gregory Crewdson-esque surrealism to create a dreamy and enchanting world. Looks a little Xavier Dolan-ish to me to, for what it's worth.

An Extraordinary Person (Programme 5)
And speaking of Xavier Dolan, here's a 29-minute debut film directed and written by his muse Monia Chokri (Heartbeats, Laurence Anyways), and edited by Dolan himself. The film chronicles a bachelorette party that turns ugly when Sarah, hungover, spills all of her repressed grudges.

A Time is a Terrible Thing to Waste (Programme 4)
Winnipegger turned Toronto-based animator Leslie Supnet is usually spotted in more of an avant-garde context; recently, she was even included in the Toronto program in last April's Images Festival. Her animation style earnestly combines a children's book aesthetic with existentialist anxieties, making for a sweet and absurd charm that feels far less wholesome than the surface implies.

Noah (Programme 2)
Here's another film from the Ryerson factory, this one coming from filmmakers Walter Woodman & Patrick Cederberg. I was immediately struck by the stills on the festival site, which all appear to be screengrabs from someone's Mac: an unseen character logs in to his operating system and visits Facebook. The film, it turns out, is fully committed to this technique, consisting only of video of the web-scapades as seen on a computer monitor. The relatively experimental storytelling style is unique among the rest of films in SCC, and could be an effective strategy for storytelling in the Digital Age.

The Sparkling River (Programme 1)
Filmmakers Felix Lajeunesse and Paul RaphaÍl both graduated from Concordia's Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, and have been collaborating since 2004. After watching the elegant and contemplative trailer for this 18-minute film, I was surprised to find that it's actually supposed to be 3D - a departure for sure from all of the effects-laden films that have monopolized the stereoscopic medium. A drama about a hermetic alpaca farmer and a young Chinese woman, the film allegedly veers toward science-fiction, which could be where the 3D really shines.

Candy (Programme 3)
Last year, TIFF screened the debut feature by David Cronenberg's son, Brandon, and now comes more from the Cronenberg kin, this time from his daughter, Cassandra Cronenberg. Less apparently Cronenbergian than Brandon's needle-fest, Candy is an experimental portrait "of human transactions -- love, sex, money, art -- that takes place over one beautiful, intoxicating night."

Thanks to Grolsch for sponsoring our coverage of TIFF13Grolsch TIFF

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