TIFF’s Short Cuts program is 43 films strong this year and features actors like Lisa Ray and Hugh Dillon, while the directors involved include Flashpoint’s Enrico Colantoni. The films come from almost every province, including Nunavut, Newfoundland, British Columbia and Ontario, and explore the lives of jealous dogs, feral children and cabbage. Where do we sign up? Check out the full list of Short Cuts Canada selections after the jump.
4 a.m. (Ontario)
North American premiere
Director: Janine Fung
Synopsis: Spoken-word poet Muhammad Muwakil paints a powerful portrait of life in a suburb of Port of Spain, Trinidad, against peaceful pre-dawn images of a city at peace.
Director: Renaud Hallée
Synopsis: Combustion plunges the viewer, from each image and note to the next, closer and closer to its materials as they catch fire and culminate in an explosion of colours and sounds. Carried along by a scorching musical score, Combustion is a brisk and novel look at fire—a source of fascination for everyone everywhere since the beginning of time.
Derailments (British Columbia)
Director: Chelsea McMullan
Synopsis: Originally written by Federico Fellini as a film, Il Viaggio di Mastorna Detto Fernet was called “the most famous film never made.” There is mystery surrounding Fellini’s decision to abandon the project right before production. At 72, he began collaborating with celebrated illustrator Milo Manara, and together they started to sketch Fellini’s vision of the afterlife in comic format. In this short, meditative documentary, Manara remembers their journey together into the hereafter.
Doubles with Slight Pepper (Ontario)
Director: Ian Harnarine
Synopsis: In rural Trinidad, Dhani struggles to support himself and his mother by selling doubles (Trinidad’s quintessential street food). When his estranged father unexpectedly returns from Canada, Dhani must decide if he will help save his father’s life despite their strained relationship.
The Encounter (Ontario)
Director: Nicholas Pye
Synopsis: In a small room, an adolescent woman experiences synaesthesia. While she stares at half-filled glasses on the table, her vision transforms into a beautiful song. Harmonic tones induce a hypnotic state over the woman. The meditative harmonies are disrupted when an ominous character arrives with the intent to ingest her song. After consuming the beauty, the dark character leaves. Left alone, the woman employs thaumaturgy to lure her song back to life.
A Film Portrait on Reconstructing 12 Possibilities That Preceded the Disappearance of Zoe Dean Drum (Quebec)
Director: Eduardo Menz
Synopsis: A one-of-a-kind cinematic mystery reveals meticulously created scenes that provide subtle hints about the abduction of its central (and noticeably absent) title character.
The Fuse: Or How I Burned Simon Bolivar (Ontario)
Director: Igor Drljaca
Synopsis: It is March 1992 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. A nine-year-old boy anticipates a poor grade on his latest art assignment and, desperate to avoid the situation, wishes for something that will allow him to miss school.
Good Boy (Ontario)
Director: Isaac Cravit
Synopsis: During a day at the beach, Harry, the family dog, struggles to reconcile feelings of jealousy towards his owner’s new baby.
Heart of Rhyme (Nova Scotia)
Director: Cory Bowles
Synopsis: When Saxton received a heart transplant, he knew there would be side effects until his recovery was complete. What he didn’t expect was the sudden urge to tag his name on mailboxes and drop rhymes in the park, or the ability to witness rhythm come alive around him. When he decides to solve the mystery behind this phenomenon, he discovers a whole new meaning to following your heart.
Hidden Driveway (Ontario)
Director: Sarah Goodman
Synopsis: Two brothers sitting on a park bench in mid-winter receive a call from their mom, who unexpectedly announces a family meeting. As the boys walk towards home, they argue about what could possibly be wrong with their parents, each trying to hide their increasing anxiety from the other.
Director: Pedro Pires
Synopsis: Fragmented violence of war seen through the eyes of a general on his deathbed. His mind, accustomed to a life on the battlefield, surrenders to a stream of consciousness, mixing death, brutality and one last gesture of hope. The film is based on the award- winning play Jimmy, créature de rêve, by Marie Brassard.
If I Can Fly (Quebec)
Director: Yoakim Bélanger
Synopsis: A huddled man awakens, animates and deploys himself in this dance piece. It’s a trip to the centre of oneself, an exploration and personal confrontation of facing fears, emotions and the quest for achievement. A hybrid film realized using photo sequences, textures and traditional video.
Director: Enrico Colantoni
Starring: Hugh Dillon
Synopsis: An entertainer at the top of his career, Bobby struggles with his public life. In a session with his psychiatrist, Dr. Mann, it becomes clear that traditional therapy isn’t working. When the doctor employs a simple childhood game, he helps Bobby embrace his true, twisted self.
Lie Down and Die (Ontario)
Director: Kyle Sanderson
Synopsis: Seth’s family is cursed, with each member suffering increasingly tragic and unfortunate deaths. He’s next.
Little Theatres: Homage to the Mineral of Cabbage (Ontario)
North American premiere
Director: Stephanie Dudley
Synopsis: The theatre is usually a place where larger-than-life stories are explored. This film looks between the tiny cracks, for the beauty and subtleties that often go unnoticed. This is a film about cabbage: a simple vegetable, with many layers.
Director: Darrin Klimek
Synopsis: This is the story of Mandeep Sanghera, a 23-year-old man who lives with severe Tourette’s syndrome and other behavioural disorders that make everyday tasks challenging. Adding another level of complexity, he takes five types of medication to help him focus. This portrait of Mandeep’s life explores how he deals with and overcomes these obstacles, often with humour and a lust for life.
No Words Came Down (British Columbia)
Directors: Ryan Flowers and Lisa Pham
Synopsis: Thomas gets set up on a blind date with Mary, an older woman. Despite their awkwardness, these two lonely individuals find a way to continue on with a quiet evening together.
Of Events (D’aléas) (Quebec)
Director: Mathieu Tremblay
Synopsis: Following the sustained rhythm of what is claimed as circumstance, the boundaries between a woman, a man, a child, an old man, a destination and a set of diffused memories and desires slowly fade away.
One Night With You (Une nuit avec toi) (Quebec)
Director: Jeanne Leblanc
Synopsis: Samuel has been fat since childhood. However, when he is 23, his fantasies turned to the pretty, thin girls. Faced with the indifference of his inaccessible desires, Samuel is crushed by his insecure and immature reality when he tries to fall back on Emily, a young woman in the same situation as him.
Director: Phillippe Baylaucq
Synopsis: The worlds of choreographer José Navas and filmmaker Philippe Baylaucq collide to create the first film to use 3-D thermal imaging. Ora spotlights six dancers with luminous bodies, exploring a world marked by the heat they produce. The film showcases never- before-seen images in a dance allegory that draws the viewer into the heart of the shifting space the dancers inhabit.
The Paris Quintet in Practice Makes Perfect (British Columbia)
Director: Benjamin Schuetze
Synopsis: Five men live in a one-room apartment wearing identical suits. They are a well-oiled machine, perfectly synchronized in their morning routine. All of this in preparation for their work: sitting around a typewriter creating a fantasy account of an afternoon in Paris with the woman of their dreams…but they are a long way from Paris.
Patch Town (Ontario)
Director: Craig Goodwill
Synopsis: Told as a Russian fable, Patch Town is a story about what parents tell their children when asked: ‘Where do babies come from?’ This satirical comedy-meets-musical clashes Russian folklore and Soviet-style oppression with Western-style consumerism and a culture of discarded love. Starring Lisa Ray.
Director: Dusty Mancinelli
Synopsis: A little boy is forced to defend himself when he stumbles upon an unconscious man in a forest with a gun and a briefcase.
The Pedestrian Jar (Ontario)
Director: Evan Morgan
A short mock-doc about an office of co-workers who come up with their own solution to pedestrian-related driving accidents in the city: every time you hit someone on the way to work, you have to put a quarter in the jar.
The Red Virgin (Ontario)
Director: Sheila Pye
Synopsis: In 1933, Spanish political activist and champion for sexual freedom Aurora Rodriguez killed her utopian “project” and brilliant young daughter Hildegart. This is a film about the human propensity to kill the thing one loves the most.
A River in the Woods (Newfoundland)
Director: Christian Sparkes
Synopsis: A fable about a group of feral children who befriend a monster they find in the woods.
La Ronde (Quebec)
North American premiere
Director: Sophie Goyette
Synopsis: Come nightfall, Ariane leaves her sleepy suburb, driven by a longing to wake up elsewhere—anywhere but there. From one unusual tableau to the next, her quest becomes a moving pilgrimage, offering a singular meditation on leaving, loss and night’s power of abstraction.
Solar Wind (Vent solaire) (Quebec)
Director: Ian Lagarde
Synopsis: During the last days before the mass suicide of an isolated cult, Michel prepares for the ultimate transfer. Along with Louise, a co- disciple, he goes to the local department store to buy the cult’s uniforms: black jogging pants and running shoes. The movements are simple, but the body struggles to follow.
Sorry, Rabbi (Quebec)
Director: Mark Slutsky
Synopsis: Surrounded by angry Hassids, Josh is astonished to find himself accused of anti-Semitic violence. He’s Jewish himself, if non- practising—what would his mother think? With a bleeding Hassid, an exasperated rabbi and Josh’s newly broken heart jostling for space in the crowded office, who’s telling the truth? Starring Jacob Tierney.
Spirit of the Bluebird (Alberta)
Directors: Xstine Cook and Jesse Gouchey
Synopsis: Using spray paint on a garage where Gloria Black Plume, an Aboriginal woman, was brutally murdered in 1999, Cree artist Jesse Gouchey paints a large-scale animation of a bluebird in flight.
Sundays (Les dimanches) (Quebec)
Director: Jean-Guillaume Bastien
Synopsis: In the small town of Bas-Saint-Laurent, Quebec, three short stories unfold in the surreal atmosphere of a Sunday. An imaginative boy and his sister play inside their house, a Colombian priest faces his new community while giving an uneasy mass, and a teenager falls into the reality of work.
Director: Yan Giroux
Synopsis: It’s another quiet summer day in Parc Dufresne. The neighbourhood teens loiter about until a young park monitor arrives for his first day of work. Tension rises as the two worlds clash in an unbalanced territorial struggle. In this impressionistic film, the banal day-to- day rituals of a suburban park take on a poetic tone through carefully planned and choreographed takes.
Tabula Rasa (Manitoba and Quebec)
Director: Matthew Rankin
Synopsis: In the aftermath of the 1950 Winnipeg flood, apathetic Fernand floats listlessly through a ruined city while his estranged wife, Marie-Oiseau, prays for the drowned souls of Saint-Boniface.
Throat Song (Ontario and Nunavut)
Director: Miranda de Pencier
Synopsis: In the snowy Canadian Arctic, a young Inuk woman silently suffers in an abusive relationship with her alcoholic husband. When she gets a job that connects her with other victims of abuse, she discovers that her voice is not yet entirely diminished.
Directors: Arnaud Brisebois and Francis Leclerc
Synopsis: A young outcast pits himself in a race against a raging locomotive. Fantastic visual effects add to this powerful tale of man versus machine.
Up In Cottage Country (Ontario)
Director: Simon Ennis
Synopsis: An absurd reimagining of Kafka’s In Der Strafkolonie, Up in Cottage Country has George (Josh Peace) stumble upon an elaborate torture machine operated by a defunct officer (Julian Richings). Also stars Liane Balaban.
Director: Gina Haraszti
Synopsis: Waning is a short fiction film using spatial montage to address the narratives of memory and loss. The story follows an aspiring model who one day meets a photographer with a unique portfolio, seeking beauty in death.
Water (Acqua) (Ontario)
Director: Raha Shirazi
Synopsis: In a film that celebrates traditions and their roots, a girl travels far from home to bring back water.
We Ate the Children Last (Ontario)
Director: Andrew Cividino
Synopsis: Researchers discover a radical cure for digestive tract illnesses by transplanting organs from pigs into the human body. Medical miracle morphs into pop phenomenon as eating garbage explodes in popularity, but society is not prepared for irreversible consequences more chilling than a fleeting fad.
The Weight of Emptiness (Le poids du vide) (Quebec)
Director: Alain Fournier
Synopsis: Thomas suffers from strange weightlessness crises. Distressed, his mother takes every means to bring him down to earth.
A Yodeling Farmer (Manitoba)
Directors: Mike Maryniuk and John Scoles
Synopsis: In a wooden folk-art universe, a crude Internet search takes the viewer on a ride down the information super-railroad, exploring the life and music of Manitoba cowboy yodelling legend Stu Clayton.