Worldwide Short Film Festival

Worldwide Short Film Festival featured image

By Marc Glassman

May 31-June 5
Multiple venues including: The Bloor, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Royal Ontario Museum, CN Tower and Victoria University

Significant facts:
4200 submissions from 80 countries
195 premieres: 24 World, 48 North American, 83 Canadian, 40 Toronto

33 programmes including:
12 International or Canadian Competitive
2 Celebrity Shorts
2 Spotlights on Italy
1 “New Zealand’s Got Talent”
2 Midnight Mania
2 Slap’n’Tickle
Hosts the “Short Film Big Ideas Symposium”
Host a Business Centre

The 17th edition of the Worldwide Short Film Festival (WWSF) begins next Tuesday and, as usual, it’s offering a vast and satisfying survey of the best that has been produced in the “shorter is better” category over the past year. Produced by the Canadian Film Centre (CFC), this prestigious event has received the ultimate accolade: award-winning films screened here qualify for Oscar consideration.

The Festival hosts an Industry component allowing filmmakers to hobnob with broadcasters, funders and distributors as well as their peers. Through their symposium and business initiatives, the WWSF gives Canadians the opportunity to meet international colleagues and vice-versa. It’s a “win-win” strategy that has served the industry, Canada’s filmmakers and the CFC over time.

The Festival offers a vast diversity of treats. Here are some:

In the programme called “The Comeback,” there’s a lovely doc about Billy Braver, a semi-celeb on the comedy circuit in the ’70s, who quit 25 years ago to become a car salesman. But when his Saab dealership is threatened with closure after the 2008 economic downturn, Billy decides to re-launch his career. The Saab Story is anything but–it’s a funny, moving tale of someone finding his mojo when all hope seems to be gone.

In “Celebrity Shorts 2,” Oscar winning actress Rachel Weisz directs Rosemary DeWitt and Joel Edgerton in The Thief, a dramatization of a real-life story in which a woman who is about to be robbed gives a robber something more valuable than money–hope, and a chance to rejoin society.

The Opening Gala “Award Winner from Around the World” has many treats but none better than The Lost Thing, the Oscar and Annecy winning animated short about a nerdy boy who finds a home for a strange, magical creature that’s part metal, part octopus and all fun.

In “Power Plays,” Australian documentarian Maya Newell finds an odd subject–a man who wants to be a two-year old girl. Two is surprisingly humanistic treatment of a sad character, who has found peace with himself and his very, very odd fetish by going to a “nursery” where people help him to play out his fantasy.

In “Accidental Witness,” the powerful Quebecois short Ce n’est rien (It Is Nothing) dramatizes the dilemma of a father who finds out that her grandfather–his own dad, has abused his young daughter.

Finally, in the programme “No Place Like Home,” award-winning animators Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis recount the quirky tale of an Englishman who finds the Wild Life of Alberta overwhelming. Comic and tragic, it is stylistically reminiscent of their Oscar nominated and Annecy winning short When the Day Breaks.

Animation, documentary, fiction or experimental: the Worldwide Short Film Festival offers it all. Study the programme book carefully. There’s something here for everyone.

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