TIFF40: SHORT CUTS International – Review

Posted on Sep 20 2015 - 8:27am 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.

International selections reviewed below from the SHORT CUTS PROGRAMME follow the theme of uneasy, uncommon, and taboo relationships.




Country: Norway
Director: Halfdan Olav Ullmann Tondel
Cast: Stine Sorensen, Andre Sorum
Rating: 18A
Running Time: 25 mins.

Benjamin and Maya live together and have settled in well in their relationship. But when Maya recounts a racy sexual experience she had in Brazil, Benjamin’s insecurities come to light.

In quick order, director Halfdan Olav Ullman Tonel makes his characters likable, setting them in a cozy ordinary life. After the main plot of BIRD HEARTS is introduced, that same framing suddenly feels like a social intrusion. The audience becomes an active part of the awkwardness rather than just observing the reactions; subtle non-looks and passive-aggressive exchanges feel like hanging out with a couple in the middle of a fight.

BIRD HEARTS explores its plot effectively, weighting Benjamin’s quarter-life crisis against the endurance of shared love versus passions experienced prior to him.  Considering the theme, this is one where ‘no solution given’ is an effective conclusion.

[usr 4]




Country: Israel
Director: Elad Goldman
Cast: Yoav Rottman, Gaia Shalita Katz
Rating: 14A
Running Time: 22 mins.

As the name implies, Gur (Yoav Rottman) and Daniel (Gaia Shalita Katz) are a pair of latchkey siblings, tending to each other in the common absence of their parents. Their world is small, consisting of home & the immediate areas surrounding it. When Daniel starts to grow into a life of her own, Gur’s reaction becomes more and more troublesome.

Rottman plays a convincingly juvenile brother, with a demeanor that’s unlikable before it becomes disturbing. His character drives the sibling relationship into unnerving territory, bordering on a misguided desire for sexual intimacy. While it goes far enough to be unsettling, director Elad Goldman’s script doesn’t lose focus: overall, the film stays grounded in the notion of Gur’s jealousy, and how his damaged reactions stem from the fear he’ll be left behind.

But as such, everything concludes in an explosive conflict you would expect. And because there’s no hint of growth for Gur, Goldman’s short feels episodic.

[usr 3]




Country: Sweeden
Director: Caroline Ingvarson
Cast: Per Lasson, Selma Modéer Wiking
Rating: 14A
Running Time: 15 mins.

In BENEATH THE SPACESHIP, Caroline Ingvarson examines an uncommon friendship harboring a significant age gap – one that would immediately be questionable to most.

Julie, a bit of a tomboy, is still oblivious to many concepts of sexuality; she isn’t even old enough to drive. Her closest friend, Paul, is in his forties and lives in a neighboring apartment; As the senior, Paul’s life experience is indeed more obvious. When it’s just the two of them, their relationship is innocent enough, but Julie’s naiveties and Paul’s age come to scrutiny when others enter the picture.

Ingvarson succeeds in juxtaposing a child’s mindset with those of adults. Ultimately, she shows that taboos ingraned within the adults win due ‘strength in numbers.’ While Ingvarson has stated that she finds such judgments to be unfair, she doesn’t pull punches on how it can be construed as otherwise. The question of ‘who should know better?’ is left for the audience.

[usr 3.5]

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