STUDENT SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL
Shorts from various film schools around the country -- with a slight emphasis on the organizers' alma mater, Ryerson -- are screened in four 90-minute programs. I'm happy to say that my worst nightmares about what influences today's film students have not been fulfilled -- not a single Dogme-style drama in the lot.
On the other hand, the entries include examples of postmodernist irony and a couple of films that would be embarrassing from grade school students. An entry from Quebec (Quel Sale Tour, program 4) presents a series of avant-garde poses that would have been trite in 1932 -- unless, of course, the filmmakers are parodying early-30s surrealist cinema, in which case they're beating the dead horse that Buuel tossed out the window in L'Age D'Or.
On the positive side, there are a pair of good half-hour documentaries: Daniel Frank's From Abandonment To Acceptance (program 1), about English children shipped to Canada during the first world war; and Conflict (program 4), Elad Winkler's look at the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Winkler's film is of the conventional hand-wringing "why can't we all get along?" variety, but he does understand the need to structure a documentary dramatically.
A couple of clever comedies are included: Fast Seduction (Ben Roberts, program 3), a parody of self-help courses in which an über-geek sets out to follow the dictates of the "fast seduction" program; and The Dim Reaper (James Gawthroupe, program 1), a family sitcom about the Grim Reaper's son, who doesn't want to frighten his appointments. (Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario, September 27-28)