It doesn't start until Wednesday, but I wanted to put the word out about the second annual Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival before the advance box office closes on Monday. It's a modest festival, with just three programs of screenings at Innis Town Hall, but it's a festival with an intriguing mandate and a sense of genuine discovery.
Designed as a showcase for young Toronto filmmakers, the festival challenges participants to really use the city as a character in their work, rather than a backdrop. Wednesday night's program, Twenty Four Without Kiefer, collects the shorts produced for the T24 Project, which required participants to write, shoot and edit a short in a 24-hour period; Thursday's program, Reflections Of The World At Home, concentrates on social and political issues, frequently viewed through the eyes of Toronto residents.
Personal Journeys, screening July 16, sticks closer to the heart, offering more intimate stories as documentaries, fictional narratives and whimsical animation. If you have to pick one program to catch, this is the one - though there's some engaging and worthy stuff in the other ones, too.
Advance tickets can be purchased in person today and Monday at the festival's box office at 253 Danforth Avenue, between 10:30 am and 6 pm (cash only), or at the door at any of the Innis Town Hall screenings. There's also a reception following the opening night screening on Wednesday.
I've already written at length about TIFF Cinematheque's Akira Kurosawa retrospective, but I couldn't let this week's column pass without directing your attention back to two of his very best pictures: The Bad Sleep Well, screening Sunday at 6:30 pm, and High And Low, playing Tuesday at 7 pm.
Tremendous, thrilling stuff, and both films are utterly contemporary; there's not a samurai in sight. The Bad Sleep Well transposes the action of Hamlet to the boardrooms of post-war Tokyo, and High And Low is a nail-biting kidnapping thriller based on a novel by hard-boiled American author Evan Hunter, aka Ed McBain.
Kurosawa worked in plenty of other genres beyond the feudal epic, and if you only associate him with Rashomon and Seven Samurai, these will dazzle you. If you've never seen either of these ... well, why haven't you? And what are you waiting for?[rssbreak]