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Our Guide to the Short Films of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival

Written by on September 14, 2015 

[Programme 1] [Programme 2] [Programme 3] [Programme 4]
[Programme 5] [Programme 6] [Programme 7] [Programme 8]
[Programme 9] [Programme 10] [Programme 11]

Programme 4
Premiering Saturday, September 12th at 10:00pm | Scotiabank Theatre

Casualties of Modernity, dir. Kent Monkman, 14 min. – Canada
World Famous Gopher Hole Museum, dir. Chelsea McMullan, Douglas Nayler, 20 min. – Canada
Peripheria, dir. David Coquard-Dassault, 12 min. – France

A post-apocalyptic wasteland born from an abandoned council estate of mammoth cement structures covered in graffiti and devoid of life—human life—David Coquard-Dassault‘s Peripheria showcases an aftermath of the unusable imprint we’ve made on Earth. Without our species to use these homes for dwelling or canvases, they merely stand reflecting the sun as large shadow makers for the creatures still roaming below. The dogs are what’s left, feral and awake. They rule the land with teeth bared, claiming property and possession as the owners cooped up in 10,000-plus habitats piled on top of one another used to as well. But instead of the buildings’ doors and windows providing shelter and safety, they’ve become methods of imprisonment and death sentences since the current tenants are without the means to escape.

The animation on display is a memorable aesthetic of roughly textured colors forming familiar shapes, each shimmering along with the passage of frames moving forward. Only the black dogs cutting silhouettes against the graying façades and some plastic bags floating in the wind move to prove it isn’t static photographs progressing through a slideshow by moving film documenting time. The homogeneity of the breed and fur color breaks these animals down to their species—something humanity still refuses to do with racism and bigotry alive and well. As we see them snarl and claim stakes, though, it makes you wonder if peace is an impossible ideal no matter differences or similarities pulling us apart or pushing us together. We will always want, destroy, and want more before repeating the cycle until nothing remains.

Coquard-Dassault setting is proof—deserted by mankind or left after murdering itself into oblivion. All we’ve built will remain useless and damning, evidence of our failures. The dogs will soon join us, segmenting themselves into groups locked in high-rises without food or trapped in dry pools to clutch onto what’s left of their identities before starvation claims victory. And just as we think we know their fate is identical to our own, Coquard-Dassault and co-writer Patricia Valeix throw a curveball. Maybe this isn’t a memorial to humanity, but a shrine to a past long since forgotten and ready for rebirth. Maybe it’s a sign of our wastefulness and hubris, to take the Earth, abandon it, and rebuild. Maybe its emptiness shows our self-anointed power to mold nature in our image, burning everything standing against our vision of glory.

B

Beyond the Horizon, dir. Ryan J. Noth, 8 min. – Canada
Boy, dir. Connor Jessup, 14 min. – Canada
Beneath the Spaceship, dir. Caroline Ingvarsson, 15 min. – Sweden

What’s the age cut-off for friendship? It’s an interesting notion to consider because at a certain point a noticeable difference becomes intrinsically pedophilic in the eyes of society. Where a neighbor can befriend someone young as a babysitter, alternate parental figure, etc., as soon as the child hits puberty the platonic nature of the relationship changes. From inside it’s the same because the years have merely gone by. From the outside, however, what would have once been ignored becomes scrutinized. And while the adult has the maturity level to understand it will always be a harmless union, the child isn’t so stable. Not only could his/her sense of friendship grow into a love of respect and possibly convenience, but the quick ridicule from others his/her age will also threaten to instantly taint his/her own mindset.

This is the philosophical and emotional dilemma at the center of Caroline Ingvarsson‘s Beneath the Spaceship. It depicts this change on a seemingly innocuous day like any other where Julie’s (Selma Modéer Viking) mother allows her to visit Paul (Per Lasson) across the way. She arrives to cut his hair for the payment of his taking her out in his car for driving lessons. It’s a day that wouldn’t demand a second glance had it been a teen and her father or uncle. It doesn’t garner a second glance from us either until Julie’s innocence travels too far. Drawing a map on Paul’s leg, she approaches a realm that’s hardly appropriate. But while his surprise and horror cause him to jolt up and walk away, you wonder if he’d have reacted the same two years prior.

Is it because Julie’s no longer youthfully androgynous? Does Paul himself aroused or fear she might? While a minor hiccup exposing the cracks in society’s microscopic gaze upon them, it’s still a personal development space and time can heal. When Julie’s older cousin (Vala Norén) projects sexuality on them to make the young girl uncomfortable by blatantly flirting out of interest or the playful desire to make her jealous, however, the entire affair blows up. The awkwardness of Paul joining these teens for a day by the water causes he and Julie to wish the Death Star they joked about destroying Earth so they could start anew would come. It does to an extent, but not the way their idyllic natures originally hoped. Their new beginning staring back potentially becomes one where they can never be together again.

B+

Portal to Hell!!!, dir. Vivieno Caldinelli, 11 min. – Canada


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