It is a bit unusual to review short films, but imagineNATIVE has a pretty cool series of shorts. In addition to shorts screened before features, the festival will be running several dedicated shorts programs, including a youth program, a late-night program, and a dance program. The shorts themselves cross many genres, such as drama, sci-fi, folklore, documentary, and comedy. I’ve taken the liberty of reviewing some of the genuinely worthwhile shorts that are playing at this festival to give you an idea of what will be happening this week.
Dir. Jeff Barnaby (2010, Canada, 7 min.)
Excellent production values and a tight, unnerving plot separate this neat sci-fi short from so many others. The use of expressionist lighting and cinematography give the film particular depth and resonance. Cultural assimilation has never been so visceral.
Dir. Ty Sangar (2009, USA, 20 min.)
This foray into folklore and magical realism makes for good storytelling. Shooting in the dark can be a tricky feat, but this film does it well and manages to make sunrise devastating. The film offers interesting intellectual fare as well, given that it deals with folk memories of a people before Hawaiians, forcing us to contemplate the meaning or quality of indigenousness. Interestingly, this film made me think of the Beothuk – and made me wonder if the film had the same effect on others.
Dir. Danis Gaulet (2010, Canada, 16 min.)
This short film neatly encapsulates a problem that will speak to the younger generation of Aboriginal Canadians: that is, how to live in modern, multi-cultural Canada without forsaking one’s roots. The setting is gorgeous (a recurring thing at this festival), and the film’s self-consciousness concerning language is intriguing.
Dir. Prina Raj Josh (2010, Nepal, 8 min.)
This documentary’s subject matter is so interesting that I wanted to see much more. That being said, the film’s frenetic cinematography perhaps more at home in a music video.
Dance to Miss Chief
Dir. Kent Monkman (2010, Canada, 5 min.)
I did not expect to see an Aboriginal answer to Lady Gaga at this festival, but here we are. This film’s juxtaposition of music video with scenes from the Winnetou films (a European B-movie series featuring white actors in Croatia standing in for Apache characters in the American West – which is as hilarious as it sounds) was a neat touch. Also, I appreciate the pun.
(These short films will be playing as part of several short film programs at imagineNATIVE in Toronto. Tickets are available online or in person.)