Saturday, 2 June 2012

Canadian Film Centre World Wide Short Film Festival 2012 Toronto - Opening Night Gala: Award Winners From Around The World - Reviewed By Greg Klymkiw

Opening night gala presentations at most film festivals are usually stacked with inoffensive fare that's soon forgotten once the festival really gets underway. The Canadian Film Centre's Worldwide Short Film Festival has not been immune to this, but traditionally the programme includes a carefully selected group of award winners from around the world. Awards, of course, do not ALWAYS ensure great cinema, but the beauty of an evening of short films is that there's bound to be some genuinely great stuff. Judging from the 2012 Opening Night Gala lineup, the pickings out in Award Winner Land must have been mighty slim. Read and weep. (Though I can assure you it only goes up and in some cases, WAY up during the festival, after this opening night of - ahem - winners.)

Luminaris (2011) dir. Juan Pablo Zaramella
Review By Greg Klymkiw
Equation de Klymkiw: Magic Realism + Whimsy = (for this fella) Explusion of Bile (though, for many others, delight).
The craft (I hesitate to use the word "artistry") in this digitally animated short is undeniable. This annoyingly predictable tale of a creative soul and his babe-o-licious co-worker hemmed into a dehumanized cubicle is, like most whimsical magical realism, almost sickeningly jaunty. The couple, along with hundreds of other toilers in an environment that inspires homogeneity rather than imagination, eventually break free of the shackles of bureaucratic efficiency in order to create a light from within that offers both freedom and love. If you're easily dazzled by eye-candy, but precious little else, you'll gobble this up. The rest of us can regurgitate it and/or file under "forgettable". Winner of the Annecy 2011 - Audience Award & Fipresci Award, Special Jury Prize - Seoul Int. Cartoon and Animation Fest

Dripped (2010) dir. Léo Verrier
Review By Greg Klymkiw
L'équation de Klymkiw: French Movie + Whimsy + Jackson Pollock Tribute = Good Intentions & Mild Entertainment Value. Superb craft is on display in this not-so-sickeningly whimsical animated short and a pretty cool idea to boot. An art thief blessed with a unique gift involving two of my favourite things - ingestion and regurgitation - scurries about Gay Par-ee in the 1950s plying his trade in a most unique and genuinely surprising way. It's basically a one-note joke with a decent punchline, but thematically it has a couple of layers and offers eye candy, a morsel of food for thought and a few decent laughs. Winner of Best Animated Short, Sitges, Special Prize, Krok IAFF

Armadingen (2011) dir. Matthias Schulz
Review By Greg Klymkiw
L'équation de Klymkiw: Armageddon + Predictable Humanity = Sickly-Sweet Feel-Goodery. This live-action (and yes, whimsical) German drama about an old farmer beleaguered by his gruff wife with endless chores presents a by-the-numbers arc involving a pudgy couple in the rut of familiarity and how an impending disaster draws them closer together. Hubby tries his damnedest to shelter his harridan hausfrau from the inevitable armageddon and they gradually use their final hours on Earth to experience the joys of another form of familiarity - their love. There's nothing dreadful about this movie, but within two or three minutes I knew, almost beat-for-beat where it was going to end up and when it got there, I wasn't sure it was all that worth it - even at a mere 23 minutes. Undiscriminating audiences might be delighted and moved, but for this fella, the apocalypse has been done to death and with fond memories of Stanley Kramer's On The Beach, Don McKellar's Last Night and Lars Von Trier's Melancholia dancing in my brain, this was Armageddon Lite. The direction is certainly competent and the performances solid. Official Competition at the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival.

Grandmothers (2011) dir. Afarin Eghbal
Review By Greg Klymkiw
L'équation de Klymkiw: Supreme Artistry + Thematic Complexity + Perfect, Simple Narrative = A Great Film That's Actually About Something. A Grandmother's voice speaks for all the grandmothers of Argentina in this delicate, heart-breaking trip through rooms that carry artifacts from an earlier age - haunted by the ghosts and memories of both happier times and sad. Gorgeously lit, designed and visually composed, Afarin Eghbal delivers a simple, yet stunning (and ultimately layered) film. Using live-action images via stop-motion-styled animation, this is a genuinely great film - short or otherwise. Telling what's ultimately a horrendous tale of one segment of "the disappeared" of Argentina, it earns its rays of hope honestly. Eghbal creates cinematic poetry of the highest order and it's a perfect demonstration of film's great potential to render narrative with the poetic qualities inherent in the medium.Winner of Encounters - Honourable Mention - Best Doc , Austin - Best Documentary Short

Trotteur (2011) dir. Arnaud Brisebois, Francis Leclerc
Review By Greg Klymkiw
L'équation de Klymkiw: Quebecois Artiness + High Production Value = Dullsville. Typically glossy high production value inherent in so many Quebecois films, an annoyingly soulful score, stunning period detail, a pseudo-Chariots-of-Fire slow motion race (between man and machine, no less - BIG IDEAS, EH?) and arty flashbacks to childhood that yields a fine calling card for television drama or a pretentious Quebecois feature replete with typically glossy high production values inherent in so many Quebecois films, an annoyingly soulful score, stunning period detail and arty flashbacks to childhood. In Official Competition at the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival and Canadian Premiere.

The Fisherman (2011) dir. Samantha Pineda Sierra
Review By Greg Klymkiw
L'équation de Klymkiw: Magic Realism + Day of the Dead = Take One Guess. As an old fisherman clambers into his boat and rows out to the wide open spaces, a little part of me thought, "Ah, perhaps we'll get some fabulous tale steeped in neorealism with a dash - only a dash, mind you - of existentialism. An old man and the sea. Arthritic hands. The meticulous detail with which he must continue to practise his livelihood, his craft - nay, his art." The phonograph in the boat should have given me a clue to the contrary. When he uses an old photograph as bait, my heart sunk. "Oh Christ!", I thought, "He's going to fish for his memories." I think you know the rest. On a positive note, it's not whimsical - at least not too much. Winner of an Honorable Mention, Morelia.

The Elaborate End of Robert Ebb (2011) dir. FX Goby, Matthieu Landour, Clément Bolla
Review By Greg Klymkiw
L'équation de Klymkiw: Spoof Of Cheesy SF + No Feel For The Genre = Not Always The Sincerest Form Of Homage. Dreadful, juvenile, thoroughly unfunny spoof of cheesy 50s SF monster movies with no feel, love or passion for the genre. The tongue is buried too deep in the cheek. Nothing is played "straight" - which is always the best way to ensure good-natured, knowing laughs. The monster suit is genuinely cool. Too bad the movie isn't. Astoundingly, it took three credited directors to helm this abysmal nonsense which could have just died the good death of so many of its ilk save for its questionable, noggin-scratching inclusion in good festivals. Official Competition at the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival

Canadian Film Centre Worldwide Short Film Festival - Toronto
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema: Tuesday June 5, 7:00 pm
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema: Sunday June 10, 9:30 pm
Tickets and Info: HERE