FUTURE SHORTS TORONTO Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN
Future Shorts is a wildly popular monthly film series that started in Europe several years ago and launched earlier this summer in Toronto. The founders of the event - "screening" seems too small a word - want it to do for short films what MTV did for music videos.
Judging from the eclectic and mostly excellent lineup, it could capture a regular audience hungry for international fare. Call it celluloid dim sum.
There are a couple of throwaway films - one involving former Pop Idol Will Young as a wannabe competitive swimmer, another an extended joke about mishaps at a small Czech train station. (Warning: there's some cruelty to animals involved in this one that won't have you laughing.)
But the others are first-rate. The UK film Eating Out is set in the dingiest greasy spoon you'll ever see, and just when you think you know where it's going, it takes a couple of quirky twists to make the humour even darker.
Two fine dramas feature women and water. In Krooli, a young Finnish girl guides us through her lifelong obsession with swimming, which includes dreaming about competing with Athens gold medallist Therese Alshammar. The idea of swim meet as metaphor for life doesn't totally work, but the piece is calm and hypnotic and there's some gorgeous underwater filming.
Eating Sausage, meanwhile, is a quiet look at how a lonely recent Korean immigrant to New Zealand finds solace and friendship at the local pool.
The animated Killing Time At Home is the most fun you'll have in three minutes. A restless boy-man orders a friend over the Internet and then disposes of him. The tale's set in an ominous dystopic universe, but the theme of modern fickleness is sharply contemporary. Each frame is so packed with detail you'll want to pause the film to admire it.
The Canadian entry is Guy Maddin's homage to silent film classics, The Heart Of The World. The technically brilliant and witty film (cinephiles will have a field day) has already racked up a handful of awards, but it's oddly appropriate to have it screening concurrently with TIFF. The short was commissioned by the festival six years ago to kick off its 25th anniversary. It actually gets more impressive with repeated viewings. (Tonight, Thursday, September 14, at the Bloor)