There are too many film fests in toronto nowadays, but you should always make time for the Worldwide Short Film Festival. With its international scope and rapid-fire programming blocks, it's an aggregator for cinematic talent.
Consolidating venues in the wake of the Cumberland's going dark (the festival is also eschewing the ROM this year), the WSFF is primarily screening at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema and U of T's Isabel Bader Theatre, with satellite programs at the Garrison and the CN Tower.
This year's national spotlight falls on Switzerland, with two programs considering that country's cinema: Near assembles more intimate works such as Steve Walker's family saga, Ashbrothers, while Far takes a broader perspective, from the Morocco-set Snowing In Marrakech to the far-flung sci-fi of Yuri Lennon's Landing On Alpha 46.
This year's Celebrity Shorts program is packed with stars, kicking off with Avengers villain Tom Hiddleston (who has a cameo in Friend Request Pending, starring Judi Dench) and ending with X-Men First Class baddie Michael Fassbender (reunited with his Hunger co-star Liam Cunningham in the nifty Pitch Black Heist). You'll also find Rita Wilson as a bereaved mother in The Carrier, Martin Freeman and Tom Hollander as a prison shrink and his newest patient in The Voorman Problem, and Charlotte Rampling as herself, sort of, in the absurdist French mystery The End.
The Date Night program - screening Friday night at the Bloor and repeating Saturday at the CN Tower - features seven shorts about couples. Highlights include Shimmy Marcus's Rhinos, about an Irish man and a German woman who spend a day together in Dublin; We Refuse To Be Cold, Alexander Carson's experimental tale of a Montreal romance; To Die By Your Side, Spike Jonze and Simon Cahn's delightful literary animation; and After The Credits, Josh Lawson's puckish consideration of the logistical difficulties awaiting characters who race to the airport at the end of a romantic comedy.
And the four shorts from the Canadian Film Centre make a strong showing, particularly Jordan Canning's mordant Oliver Bump's Birthday and Lisa Jackson's verité drama Parkdale, whose jittery immediacy sets it apart from most CFC productions, which tend toward the stately and composed.
If you've enjoyed the WSFF's past horror programs, this year's festival offers a new challenge in The Night Shift, a late-night marathon of scary shorts Saturday night at the Bloor. Starting at 11:30 pm and running to 4 am Sunday, it's a non-stop creep show filled with ghosts, demons, zombies, the odd pack of ravenous CHUDs and a French rabbit who's tripping balls.
Oh, that reminds me: please don't indulge in any mood-altering substances before attending this particular screening. It could get messy.