By: Addison Wylie
I tend to think I cover a lot of film festivals; especially those who screen short films. However, the Toronto Short Film Festival (March 16 – March 20 at Toronto’s Carlton Cinema) is new to me.
By grazing over TSFF’s mission statement, the festival blends into the collection of similar screenings in the GTA. That said, I investigated more and was corrected. The Toronto Short Film Festival has a wide roster of international films. I couldn’t believe it! There are so many short films, that the festival lasts all week. To dedicate that much time to films looking for an audience is absolutely admirable.
I was lucky to watch two of the featured short films. They were both informative, but they were also made by friends of mine. Rob Comeau (Blinded From Society) is a filmmaker I encounter frequently, and Paul W. Los (Raising Hope) is a fellow graduate of Canadore College’s television and video course. I’m honoured to review their work, and I’m thrilled to see both unstoppable filmmakers strive for what they love to do.
Blinded From Society (DIR. Rob Comeau)
Rob Comeau is a filmmaker I keep my eyes and ears open for. He’s a moviemaking factory who churns out professional short films one after another, yet each submission never feels like he’s slacking off. Personally, his filmography hasn’t always hit home runs, but I’ve always appreciated his hutzpah and his unbreakable initiative.
In the past, Comeau has made videos that were driven by food for thought, but Blinded From Society marks the first time where Comeau may have gotten a little too preachy for my taste. The writer/director/producer means well with his short film, but it’s an over-saturated societal issue (our mass consumption of social media through modern technology).
Blinded From Society is another reminder of how many of us are throwing away the life around us in order to voluntarily become sucked into our own personal bubble. Comeau has illustrated this point through clean cinematography (he was also the editor and cameraman). He counters these moment of joy with shots of vacant environments that give an ominous, grossly effective vibe. Again, he’s delivered on making a gorgeous film.
However, I don’t believe Comeau thinks his audience realizes the gravity of his topic. In fact, we do. We just need someone to show us how slow our progression is. To some extent, Rob Comeau has done this successfully, but unfortunately, his short goes in the wrong direction.
Blinded From Society screens in Block 2 on Monday, March 16 at 6:15 pm
Raising Hope (DIR. Paul W. Los)
Not only does the audience receive an inspiring film with Paul W. Los’ Raising Hope, but Sudbury’s ‘Relay For Life’ committee has gotten a terrific promotional tool to rally their heartfelt community for upcoming fundraisers.
Raising Hope stands on its own, but its rejuvenating tone reminded me of Lee Hirsch’s Bully. Los (with producer Nora Burns) has effortlessly displayed how powerful teamwork is, and how banding together is an essential key in moving forward. None of it is manipulative. It’s all inspirational.
Jordan Presseault and Ian Johnson provide opulent cinematography of Sudburians taking part in the festivities and commemorating loved ones who have passed on. Los’ uplifting documentary is further evidence that the human heart beats strongly; whether you’re remembered or remembering.
Raising Hope screens in Block 1 on Wednesday, March 18 at 6:15 pm