The Future of Film Showcase (or FOFS, for short) offers emerging filmmakers a platform to cut their teeth in storytelling and messaging all while experimenting with different styles. The shorts I caught at the FOFS featured an incredible amount of imagination and fearless ambition.
Emily Pelstring’s Petal to the Metal, for instance, is a really intense experimental music video that features a vivid and strobing time-lapse effect. It’s exactly the length it needs to be to “wow” audiences. However, after reading the film’s synopsis, I’m afraid I couldn’t connect with it on its intended thematic level. The style isn’t an issue, but it’s how Pelstring muddled the message with the visuals. Fearlessness is great, but discipline is just as important. Likewise for Maziyar Khatam’s Bump, which resembles a goofy lark that captures the same bursts of unpredictable social chaos as seen in Uncut Gems. A little of this goes a long way and Bump, while funny, seems to push our limits even though it punches out at three-and-a-half minutes.
There were a couple of shorts working on a spiritual frequency that left an impression with me, although one was better than the other. Body of Light, directed by David Gaudette, had an interesting and personal approach to death and in-the-moment grief. A young woman takes her eye off of her ailing grandfather momentarily to find his soul has slipped away. Emma Bao Linh Tourné does her very best with the short’s timeframe, but I feel like some key reaction shorts were missing from Gaudette’s short. The spiritual angle comes into play during some ambiguous final moments that are intriguing, but all too brief.
I think Body of Light falters because it wants to have one foot in reality and the other foot in a more ethereal world, and it can’t commit to either. Andrea Nirmala Widjajanto’s Srikandi alternates the same way, but find better results by having a very clear separation between the past and present. Just like Body of Light, Srikandi focuses on a teenager who is grieving through the loss of a family member. She finds ways to reflect on the loss by finding an outlet through shadow puppets that belonged to the deceased. The short has some assistance through a few flashbacks, but doesn’t depend on them. Instead, they’re used to add richness to the film’s coming-of-age story.
The showstopper at this year’s FOFS, for me, was Kitra Cahana’s Perfecting the Art of Longing. This NFB-produced biographic doc offers an intimate session with Rabbi Ronnie Cahana as he narrates over home movie footage and current footage of his current isolated state as a quadriplegic in long-term care during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a poignant film on several layers; notably through Ronnie Cahana’s touching words of wisdom and his daughter’s considerate eye behind the camera. Romantic and gracious, Perfecting the Art of Longing is a love letter and a warm hug for an old soul.
A Clip From Emily Pelstring’s Petal to the Metal:
Visit the Future of Film Showcase official website for more details. The shorts program will also be available to stream on CBC Gem on Monday, June 2o.
Viewers attending the festival this evening (Friday, June 17) can catch a screening of Haya Waseem’s Quickening. Read Shannon Page’s review here!
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