The Toronto Youth Shorts festival is a great platform for aspiring filmmakers and for storytellers with a lot on their mind. I can usually count on the selections to cover themes from cultural reflections to personal discoveries, with an occasional fluffy piece to break up the weight of these programmes.
In a city oversaturated by film festivals, it is nearly impossible to find a festival that isn’t somehow derivative of others. While many festivals have something to offer to a small, niche audience, it often seems like it’s all been done. And yet, occasionally, you find something wholly unique; something that suggests that, not only is there no similar festival in Toronto, it may well be the only festival of its kind in the world….
The Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival celebrates its 10-year anniversary with a variety of well-realized works, made by young filmmakers worth keeping watch for. The festival’s whopping total of 47 films are split into four programmes – the kids presentation Sparks (screening on September 21), followed by Forging Our Own Discourse, Moving Forward, and Searching For Belonging (screening, in order, on September 22).
By: Trevor Chartrand As a film that explores the creative process, Ryan M. Andrews’ Art of Obsession fails to bring much originality to the table. This slow-paced, predictable little story takes itself too seriously, grasping aimlessly at faux-philosophical musings all along the way. The film is an unfortunate mix of unconvincing plot, passionless performances, and a non-existent visual style. It’s the kind of film I can still enjoy, however with a more ironic appreciation than…
Collaborating filmmakers Rob Grant and Mike Kovac receive a tape from an alleged fan mimicking a disturbing scene from their crime comedy Mon Ami. Rob and Grant, immediately feeling guilty about inspiring a movie goer in the wrong way, reflect on cinematic violence and compare it to real-life acts of assault. It’s a personal insightful adventure that leads them down an unpredictable rabbit hole.
In 2014, at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival, I had rather exciting things to say about director Audrey Cummings. The film she screened was her feature film debut, Berkshire County, and while it treaded common ground, she at least showed enough awareness to spin clichés into something new.
By: Trevor Chartrand While the concept of a homicidal Santa Claus has certainly been explored in slasher films like Santa’s Slay and Silent Night, Deadly Night, director Paul Tanter has found a surprisingly fresh approach to the ‘Killer Claus’ trope in Once Upon a Time at Christmas. This fun and festive Canadian B-movie will give viewers a reason to keep the Christmas lights on overnight.
By: Trevor Chartrand Kill Order is essentially a Crank film without the charisma or charm. It tries hard to be pulse-pounding and slick, but this punch-a-minute action flick is all fist and no fury. Given the film’s structure, it’s not surprising to learn writer/director James Mark has a lot of stunt department work on his resume, including action-driven films like Jumper and Pacific Rim. Kill Order favours style over substance, desperately stringing a series of…
This critic sometimes finds it impossible to believe the sort of films that premiere at film festivals. As I have warned you before, the Toronto After Dark Film Festival is particularly guilty of this cinematic crime when it comes to their world premieres. I would love to be proven wrong, but the streak continues.
Whatever happened to that weird kid from high school? In My Friend Dahmer, the weird kid grew up to be one of the most notorious serial killers in American history. This film adaptation of Derf Backderf’s graphic novel of the same name looks at the life of Jeffrey Dahmer in his last few years of high school, where he acts like a fool to get attention and drinks heavily to keep the voices at bay. This…