Returning for its sixth season, the Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival continues to be one of the premier outlets for young local filmmakers to showcase their talents. Featuring thirty-six short films in three distinct programmes, that cover themes from discovery to the bonds that bind us, there are plenty of choices to satisfy even the pickiest of cinephiles. While the festival does not officially commence until Saturday (September 27th), we were able to get a sneak peek at five of the films screening at the fest:
Dylan Vogel’s experimental short film is a meditative piece that plays with the notion of repetition. Throwing the audience into an asylum for the artistically minded, Vogel’s creative short is a visual treat that plays with the medium of film in interesting ways. Normally experimental films such as this can be tough to pull off as it demands a lot out of the audience. Luckily Vogel incorporates enough ideas, including inventive ways to alter the repetitious moments, to keep the film feeling fresh.
The depths of the 1994 Rwanda genocide is something that cinema has only scratched the surface of. In the documentary Dear Rwanda, director Christian Wallace gets a first-hand account of the terror from aspiring musician Don Hatali (aka Innocent Don Hatali). Only ten years-old when the violence broke out, Hatali recounts his near death experience at the hands of Hutu soldiers and how he found salvation in music. Though Wallace’s documentary follows a traditional format, his subject matter is more than compelling enough to hold the audience’s attention.
Remember when you were young and only allowed to have one small piece of chocolate before dinner for fear of ruining your appetite? Well Machina is that chocolate. A sweet, but brief, taste of things to come that ultimately leaves you craving for more. Joshua Hardie drops us right into the middle of his animated tale without any warning. All we know is that his nameless kick-ass heroine is being hunted down by a mysterious man in black. What is the connection between the two? Unfortunately, Hardie leaves the answer to our imagination as he simply teases us with endless possibilities. Here is to hoping that we see more of these characters in the future.
Rogue in Real Life
Those who have been to Comic-Con, Fan Expo, or any of the wonderful conventions for all things geek culture know that cosplay has become a massive industry. Kevin Shak’s documentary explores this creative world of make believe through the eyes of Rogue Benjamin, more famously known as Northern Belle Rogue in cosplay circles. Benjamin not only opens up on how she got into cosplay, but also the impact it has had on her life both personally and creatively. Mixing in footage of Benjamin’s photo shoots with questions about maintaining ones individuality in a community that thrives on playing a part, Shak crafts an engaging documentary that treats both Benjamin and the world of cosplay with the utmost respect.
Something Like This
In this forbidden love drama, two boys try to conceal their love for each other while away at camp. This is no ordinary camp mind you, but rather a repurposed camp designed to convert gays into “normal” human beings. One of those converts is prize counselor Trevor (Degrassi’s Alex Harrouch) who is struggling with his feelings for Simon (Blake Mawson). Given the delicate subject matter, director P. Dylan Healy wisely fills his film with actors who are more than capable of bringing out the nuances of his script. This is a film that succeeds in large part to Harrouch and Mawson’s performance. They bring a level of depth to their characters that help to sell the overall heartbreaking tone of the film. While the premise has shades of But I’m a Cheerleader, Healy ensures that Something Like This provides its own unique and interesting take on the subject matter.
The Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival screens on Saturday September 27, 2014. The full slate of films screening, and ticket information, can be found at the Toronto Youth Shorts website.