10 must-see Canadian short films at TIFF 2020

These shorts are by new and established Canadian directors... and you don't even have to leave your living room to watch them


Colonelle Films/TIFF

Whitney Lafleur and Marguerite Bouchard share space in Ariane Louis-Seize’s Shooting Star.

The selection of short films at TIFF feels very different this year: thanks to COVID forcing the festival to scale back on every front, there are just five collections, viewable only on the festival’s bespoke streaming platform.

But staying home isn’t the worst thing during a pandemic, and we’re all accustomed to watching short films online these days anyway. Here are 10 entries from new and established Canadian filmmakers you’re going to want to seek out… and you don’t even have to leave your living room to find them.

The Archivists

Igor Drljaca’s latest marks an intriguing pivot from his heavier features The Waiting Room and The Stone Speakers, set in a desolate future where three friends (Noah Reid, Bahia Watson, Maxwell McCabe-Lokos) spend their days looking for lost cultural artifacts. What they find, and how they process it, is somehow both charming and haunting.

Short Cuts 3, streaming from Sun Sep 13, 6 pm at Bell Digital Cinema.

Benjamin, Benny, Ben

An anxious young man (Anwar Haj) makes his way to a job interview in Paul Shkordoff’s unnerving, intense character study. That’s really all you need to know.

Short Cuts 3, streaming from Sun Sep 13, 6 pm at Bell Digital Cinema.

Black Bodies

Kelly Fyffe-Marshall’s impressionistic short expresses the root concerns of the Black Lives Matter movement through stark, simple imagery and a mesmerizing reading of a Komi Olaf poem. Just four and a half minutes long, but it contains centuries.

Short Cuts 2, streaming from Sat Sep 12, 6 pm at Bell Digital Cinema.

Every Day’s Like This

A father (Daniel Kash), daughter (Kacey Rohl) and son (Francis Melling) unpack groceries, sort packages and talk around the impending death of the siblings’ mother in this muted drama from the Lisa Pictures team, whose projects include The Oxbow Cure, The Intestine, Spice It Up and last year’s White Lie. (Lev Lewis writes and directs this one, while Calvin Thomas and Yonah Lewis produce.)

Short Cuts 4, streaming from Mon Sep 14, 6 pm at Bell Digital Cinema.

4 North A

Filmmaker Jordan Canning (We Were Wolves, Suck It Up) and animator Howie Shia co-direct this short drama about a woman overwhelmed by memories and grief as she sits in the hospital with her dying father. There’s no dialogue. It’s not necessary.

Short Cuts 1, streaming from Fri Sep 11, 6 pm at Bell Digital Cinema.

Point And Line To Plane

Toronto director Sofia Bohdanowicz and actor Deragh Campbell have worked together for years. Here, they continue their remarkable collaboration with a pointed meditation on loss, loneliness and the stifled legacy of the abstract artist Hilma Af Klint.

Short Cuts 2, streaming from Sat Sep 12, 6 pm at Bell Digital Cinema.

Shooting Star

The latest from Quebec emotional stylist Ariane Louis-Seize (Wild Skin, The Depths) observes a teenager (Marguerite Bouchard), her mother (Whitney Lafleur) and her mother’s new boyfriend (Patrick Hivon) on their first cottage weekend. You’ll think you know where it’s going. You don’t.

Short Cuts 4, streaming from Mon Sep 14, 6 pm at Bell Digital Cinema.

Still Processing

Toronto’s Sophy Romvari (Pumpkin Movie, Let Your Heart Be Light, Norman Norman) has always drawn on her life for material; in this new short, she excavates it using a box of rediscovered family photographs and videos to work through two devastating losses.

Short Cuts 1, streaming from Fri Sep 11, 6 pm at Bell Digital Cinema.

Strong Son

“Women like a man with strong legs. Strong legs mean a stable home.” A father speaks admiringly of his son’s commitment to fitness in this charming vignette from Ian Bawa, which features the Winnipeg filmmaker’s actual dad Jagdeep as the proud papa.

Short Cuts 4, streaming from Mon Sep 14, 6 pm at Bell Digital Cinema.

Succor

A young woman (Deragh Campbell) winds up catfishing her best friend (Michaela Kurimsky) in the latest short from writer/director Hannah Cheesman – whom you may know better as Star Trek: Discovery’s cyborg Airiam. A barbed comedy featuring one of Campbell’s most interesting performances, which is really saying something.

Short Cuts 5, streaming from Tue Sep 15, 6 pm at Bell Digital Cinema.

Listen to a podcast interview with filmmakers Hannah Cheesman, Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, Tiffany Hsiung and Sophy Romvari about what it’s like to debut a film at TIFF during the pandemic:

@nowtoronto

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