Award Winners from Around the World

Award Winners from Around the World
While a couple of the shorts included in this collection are smart, beautiful and touching, the surprising thing about the rest is that they are merely mediocre in comparison to the many other titles at this year's Worldwide Short Film Festival, regardless of award winning pedigree. Denis Villeneuve's "Next Floor" alone makes the program worth checking out but on the whole, there are more interesting ways to learn about beards and Allah.

The aforementioned "Next Floor" is a clever little communist allegory, with the bourgeoisie sitting at a dinner table stuffing themselves relentlessly as servants bring an endless supply of food to them, which is all fine and well until the floor gives away. Like everything else Villeneuve lays his hands on, this short is nearly perfect.

Next up is a French metaphysical animated short about a man who is hit by a meteorite and resultantly perceives his world from a 91-centimetre distance. What is impressive here is just how complex the process of animating this concept must have been. It certainly took more thought than "Jerrycan," wherein a bunch of obnoxious Australian kids decide to blow stuff up. Unfortunately, none of them die, which works against Darwin's theories.

"Coffee with Allah" is a forgettable but sweet-natured tale of a recent Ethiopian émigré in New Zealand who finds unlikely connections despite language barriers. Its uplifting nature may prepare viewers for the sad but touching "Gone Fishing," which involves a man (Bill Paterson) making good on his promise to take a young boy (Devon Murray) fishing on the day of a funeral.

Following this beautifully shot short is the bland "Secret Life of Beards," which screened at last year's fest and features men talking about their beards. Exciting. At least the last short, "Teaching the Alphabet," shows clips from some interesting movies while going through its familiar motions.