It is hard to believe that the Toronto Youth Shorts is a decade old. Championing the creative voices of young filmmakers, the festival has become an integral part of the city’s cinematic fabric. The 10th anniversary edition, taking place on September 21-22, looks to be another stellar year as 47 short films, covering a wide range of genres, will be showcased. To get you ready for the festival, here is a peek at five titles screening at Toronto Youth Shorts:
The Curious Tale of Aunt Binks
An instant crowd-pleaser, The Curious Tale of Aunt Binks is a pure delight in every possible way. Blending several animation styles, including stop-motion animation and puppetry, directors Jenna Feltham and Niko Powell create a visually stunning fairy tale. Following young Abby as she visits her Aunt Binks, only to find a creature desperate for companionship posing as her aunt, the film offers an inventive spin on the Little Red Riding Hood tale. Featuring wonderfully rich narration and at great script to support vibrant animation, The Curious Tale of Aunt Binks is a must-see.
Erin’s Guide to Kissing Girls
One of the wonderful things about Julianna Notten’s amusing film Erin’s Guide to Kissing Girls is that it never quite goes where you expect it too. The titular Erin is a girl who knew from a young age that she liked girls. Wanting to ask the coolest girl in school to the dance, Erin employs the services of her best friend Liz to find elaborate ways to pop the question. Anchored by a hilarious script and solid performances by the ensemble cast, Notten effortlessly shows how you can incorporate diversity without making it a focal point of the film, Erin’s plight is relatable without ever feeling forced. A tale of the bonds of friendships, and how easily we take them for granted, Erin’s Guide to Kissing Girls is a charmer.
Vanessa is a socially isolated young girl hoping to find a connection within her school. Wishing she could be more like the other girls, especially outgoing Mia, Vanessa hopes that entering a dance competition will help her come out of her shell. While an effective glimpse into the awkwardness of finding one’s voice, the voiceover in the latter half of Stimulant feels unnecessary. It displays lack of trust in the audience as the poetic narration overstates the obvious. Director Natalie Paton’s film works best when she lets the visuals and performances convey the story’s symbolism.
A better example of the importance of trusting in the audience is Michael Boroda’s Attainment. Very little is explained in the film, there is not even an ounce of dialogue, but the film manages to pack an emotional punch. The story focuses on a figure skater who dreams of being the best, but his reality tells a different story. Juxtaposing the skater’s recollections of preparing for a competition with his declining physical condition, Boroda paints an intriguing portrait of a man not willing to mentally give up on his dreams even when his body makes those aspirations seemingly unattainable.
In cinema, much as in life, strippers have often been portrayed in a negative light. Jevon Boreland’s documentary Stripped aims to change that. Following Phylicia Carty aka Mz Lady Ice, Boreland constructs an empowering tale of a woman living life on her own terms. Mz Lady Ice proves to be a fascinating subject for the film to observe. The only female dancer in an all-male review show, the film portrays her as a hard-working and talented woman who is revolutionizing the adult entertainment industry in Toronto. Never making her a victim, as so many filmmakers tend to do with exotic dancers, Boreland’s film paints a well-rounded portrait of an entertainer who has only scratched the surface of her potential.