With TIFF 2020 operating under a greatly reduced lineup of films, many of the programmes at this year’s festival have been scaled back, including Wavelengths, a showcase for more avant garde, artistic, and boundary pushing fare. Wavelengths usually has its own shorts programme, but not this year. However, those with an interest in expanding their cinematic horizons and watching films on the cutting edge will feel right at home in Short Cuts Programme 02, the closest thing TIFF 2020 has to a Wavelengths short subject compilation.
Canadian filmmaker Kelly Fyffe-Marshall’s incendiary Black Bodies should be mandatory 2020 viewing, leaving an unforgettable impression in only five minutes. A performance piece speaking out against police brutality and racism towards black people, Marshall’s minimalist film is strikingly composed and strongly realized. Not only is it one of the most impressionable shorts at the festival, I would’ve loved to have seen this programmed before all screenings of TIFF’s opening night film, the Spike Lee directed David Byrne’s American Utopia.
The Dutch-Belgian animated short Pilar – a collaboration between Yngwie Boley, Diana van Houten, and J.J. Epping – is a psychologically and spiritually engrossing thriller involving two young people trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Using a flowing, painterly style, the filmmakers balance foreboding menace with bright colours in a story about nature healing and reclaiming itself. It leaves an unexpected lingering impression
Sofia Bohdanowicz – one of Canada’s finest cinematic artists of the moment – returns to the festival alongside frequent collaborator and star Deragh Campbell with Point and Line to Plane. Shot in Bohdanowicz’s now somewhat trademark 16mm style, Point and Line to Plane is a rumination on ways of connecting art and movement to some of our hardest to express feelings. Talks of Mozart, Klimt, and Kandinsky link up with poignant examinations of loss, cyclical thinking, and other intrusive, ineffable feelings. Point and Line to Plane slots nicely alongside Bohdanowicz and Campbell’s other collaborations, offering up a nice continuation of the work the filmmaker has been putting out for the past several years. It will make one consider the question of why an artist’s work lasts long after they’ve died.
Argentinian filmmaking duo Pantera – also known individually as Francisco Canton and Pato Martinez – take viewers to a run down seaport in Morocco for Loose Fish, one of the most unforced shorts about growing up impoverished in quite some time. Ismail is a young man growing frustrated with his job as a fisherman in a dead end, decaying community. He’s frequently disrespected and doesn’t really fit in amongst the other fishermen who populate the docks. Loose Fish is brilliant in the way it makes viewers watch someone who would rather be daydreaming of a better life without making those fantasies real. The viewer can imagine what’s going on in Ismail’s head, and all they need to know is that it has to be better than the reality of his situation.
The Game is an invigorating and exciting procedural documentary from Swiss filmmaker Roman Hodel. Through the eyes of referee Fedayi San viewers will witness the chaos unfolding on a soccer pitch in front of a raucous crowd. In addition to constantly paying attention to all of the players and spotting any infractions, San is constantly in contact with other officials via a headset. During professional sporting events, spectators are often privy to some on field conversations, but The Game lays bare the stressful nature of having to police a bunch of testosterone fuelled athletes – most of whom are looking for any edge they can find over their opponents – in front of a crowd that could erupt into violence if he makes an incorrect call. It’s a fascinating bit of insight wrapped up in a powder keg of atmosphere.
Mountain Cat and Aniksha also screen as part of Short Cuts Programme 02, but were not available to preview before press time. This article may be updated.
Short Cuts Programme 02 is available to stream from TIFF for a limited time via Bell Digital Cinema starting at 6:00 pm on Saturday, September 12, 2020. All online screenings for TIFF are geoblocked to Canada.