TIFF40: SHORT CUTS Animated – Reviews

Posted on Sep 20 2015 - 6:07pm by Jonathan Encarnacion

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.

Animated films we’ve reviewed from the SHORT CUTS PROGRAMME are a sampling of the varied styles that can be encountered in TIFF’s selections.




Country: Canada
Director: Howie Shia
Cast: NA
Rating: 18A
Running Time: 5 mins

Howie Shia delivers a distinct, imaginative artistic style in BAM. The short chronicles key moments in the life of a boxer as he discovers the explosive power of his rage. In living with that and finding regret, it also shows he yearned for rest and relaxation.

A sparse use of color highlight the emotive tones of BAM’s world – in particular, the growth, placement, and movement of purple add another layer to the scenes within the protagonist’s story. The choice in palate might also represent a spiritual significance – namely those found in chakras. Given the setting is ‘an inner city haunted by primordial gods’, it adds sophistication to how it informs color movement.

The short can be enjoyed without being aware of the symbolism, and the music is engaging enough to paint the picture of rage without using dialogue. It’d be nice to see this one go far.

[usr 4.5]




Country: Lebanon/Qatar
Director: Ely Dagher
Cast: Elie Bassila
Rating: 14A
Running Time: 15 mins.

WAVES ’98 is a mixed media piece, combining real-life shots and news footage with animated characters and backgrounds.

The story follow a boy who is disenchanted with life in the city. His feelings are explored when he encounters a golden elephant on the way home. Ely Dagher carefully selects what the audience would identify as ‘real’ versus ‘otherwise’, expressing the idea of the ‘the world and everything else’ with the ‘caricature’ of the character’s life. The choice resonates the idolization and dissatisfaction the protagonist encounters.

WAVES ’98 illustrates deep, timeless concepts of feeling within its short duration: how presence in a moment can feel like forever – doldrum or beautifully otherwise. Dagher’s creative intelligence builds a story that is fantastical without being inaccessible. Milestones of life’s cadence are when beauty comes and goes, rather than calendar references of time; experiences simply follow.

Its range provides more than you’d expect from even the most exceptional shorts. Artistically and thematically, it succeeds.

[usr 4.5]




Country: France
Director: Cecile Paysant
Cast: Aurélien Gabrielli, Rémy Lacquittant
Rating: 14A
Running Time: 12 mins

A boy takes part in a father & son competition, marking his first foray into hunting tradition.

WELLINGTON JR. is director Cecile Paysant’s graduate animation piece, showcasing impressive skill with stop-motion animation, down to the fine details. For instance, pay attention to the ‘grey hairs’ in the beards and mustaches as they move; it’s evident Paysant wasn’t dismissing them as a design afterthought.

Paysant builds a fantastical world with contrasting visuals, populated with strange creatures and dark shadows. Story wise, it gradually fades from Disney to dark. Father and son are not the best within their hunting class; as such, the boy learns about selfishness quite intimately. There’s no great moral here, but from a technical standpoint, it gains applause.

[usr 3.5]




Country: Netherlands
Director: Joris Oprins, Marieke Blaauw, Job Roggeveen
Cast: NA
Rating: 14A
Running Time: 10 mins

A young girl ‘loses’ her imaginary brother, only to find he’s been adopted by a family that can’t have children. If the colorful pallate, cheerful music, and character design lead you to assume this is a movie fit for kids, (OTTO)’s story would raise an eyebrow. Given that it’s rated 14A, however, informs otherwise.

The team that created (OTTO) also created the animated short A SINGLE LIFE, featured in last year’s TIFF and nominated for an Oscar. (OTTO) serves to be just as imaginative in the situation it poses. The interesting thing about their creative choices is that it seems they’re finding a middle road between Pixar-like moods and ADVENTURE-TIME tropes. Once they find that voice, their work would create some interesting stories to come.

The animation is great and their style has huge design appeal. (OTTO) is cute if the characters aren’t taken too seriously; again, it has the markings of a well-developed kid’s film, and its theme of ‘coming together’ is a worthy goal.

[usr 3.5]

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