Published May 31, 2010What I've always found interesting about the Opening Gala at the Worldwide Shorts Festival year in and year out is that the award-winning films featured are typically mediocre in relation to the entire festival. 2010 is no exception, as the five titles featured are all decent, with one exception, but none of them stand out in the way that Ella or Fear of Snakes do.
That said, opening animated short Runaway is a propulsive, rollicking joy to watch. With an energized score from Benoit Charest, this one follows a runaway train with an absent conductor and posh bourgeoisie exploiting the working class. But not only Marx and Jung would enjoy this one, as it's a joy to watch from beginning to end.
Similarly enjoyable is Seeds of the Fall, which boasts that distinctive Scandinavian humour oft seen in Roy Andersson films, only less incisive and more whimsical. This one shows an older couple struggling with the decision to sell a needy neighbour sperm after a truck randomly crashes through their wall, leaving them strapped to pay for the repair.
The weakest short in the program, or at least the most unintentionally amusing, is Tunijuq. It features a woman transforming from human to seal, and then hunting said seal, occasionally floating in the water naked (like Juliette Lewis in Blueberry, only less gynaecologically explicit), and then eating some meat. The cut they make in the seal looks like a great big vagina, and they gently rub the inner flap, pulling out viscera and eating it. If one of them looked at the camera, said, "I'd tap that" and then winked, I honestly wouldn't have been surprised.
The Six Dollar Fifty Man is one of those shorts that juries love, because it features a socially dejected boy trying to find his place in the world. He draws comics and rebels against authority figures, getting teased by other kids. It's fine, but is this really a story that needs to be told again? There are at least four shorts exactly like this every year at the festival.
Also hopping on the social reject bandwagon is It's Sunday, which is about a kid that gets expelled from school and lies to his father about it, claiming that he actually received a diploma. The situation escalates and we learn about the beauty of the father-son bond. It's cute, but minor.