TIFF SHORT CUTS PROGRAMMES are presentations of select short films from around the world, highlighting up and coming talent within the industry. TIFF offered eleven SHORT CUTS PROGRAMMES this year, with shorts grouped by particular themes.
The films in SHORT CUTS PROGRAMME 10 follow stories wherein life can be sometimes overwhelming. Below are reviews of three shorts from the programme.
A TALE OF LOVE, MADNESS, AND DEATH
Director: Mijael Bustos Guiterrez
Running Time: 22 mins
The smoking habits of a schizophrenic son have caused his mother’s lungs to fail; throughout, the father continues his care for both.
A TALE OF LOVE, MADNESS AND DEATH (UN CUENTO DE AMOR, LOCURA Y MUERTE) is a story observed slowly, with little moments telling the tale.
What makes for impact is the narrative choices of director Mijael Bustos Guiterrez. We follow the personal story of a Chilean family through the experiences of the grandfather – living with a schizophrenic
son, discovering his wife’s last days. But while the heart of the story is with him, the film’s bookend comments are also of this family, which add resonance to the film’s sentiment.
Emotively, Gutirrez’s documentary becomes more than the sum of its parts as it builds. It succeeds in reflecting the the difficulties this family faces with a natural, organic empathy.
Director: Nader Khademi and Janne Heltberg (The Sporadic Film Collective)
Cast: Nader Khademi, Janne Heltberg
Running Time: 7 mins
An awkward situation is highlighted in this story surrounding two writers who have long experienced writer’s block.
The awkwardness stems from the insecurities of Nader (Nader Khademi), one of the two writers. When the pair encounter a peer that Nader harbors feelings for (Janne Heltberg), conversation takes a humorous turn that stabs him with the literary experience he’s been lacking.
Nader Khademi and Janne Heltberg of The Sporadic Film Collective take their turn helming the troupe with this short. Within this seven minute short, though, the build up to Nader’s breaking point seems lacking. Subtle camera movements reflect the uneasiness of Nader, but are not enough to flesh them out within this single-scene short. Ultimately, the awkwardness of the situation – funny in concept but sincere in presentation – miss the mark in being wholly effective because it’s neither one or the other.
As a result, the short feels more like a skit than a ‘film’, per se, down to the trope of a middleman friend as Nader’s writing partner.
HIDE & SEEK
Director: Kimie Tanaka
Cast: Masaki Miura, Kuniaki Nakamura, Hiroko Ninomiya
Running Time: 22 mins
A male nurse named Shoichi is obligated to return home to the countryside after his mother’s sudden death. Wanting to return to his routine as soon as possible, he tries to resolve the problem of his younger brother, Kotaro, a “shut in” whom their mother has taken care of for the last ten years.
Director Kimie Tanaka produces some beautiful images in HIDE & SEEK, her exploration of the way of life in Japan. The story thread is effective in expressing the sense of futility her thematic viewpoint aims for. The generational divide between the siblings and their mother – with burdening expectations of obligation and success – exhaust the characters’ stamina for life in various ways.
Unfortunately, HIDE & SEEK needs to be taken with that off-screen preamble: the director’s desire to emulate a sense of futility within their highly-organized society. Otherwise, to international viewers, the story feels like it simply goes nowhere for the protagonists. As artistically and technically successful as HIDE & SEEK is, its plot only ‘shows’ the plight of the theme with little exploration of it; a display of symptoms without enough inquiry to their cause. As such, the film could leave some feeling that it lacks a satisfying resolve.