A Brief History of Our Time

A Brief History of Our Time
The fifth program of official selections explores the circular nature of human conflict, feelings of isolation, fleeting thoughts in the last moments of life, the necessity of death to create life and the memories of those who have passed. It’s a somewhat depressing section, with many of the shorts leaving themselves open to interpretation. Maturity is juxtaposed with immaturity throughout, as some films are significantly more profound than others.

Starting things out is Under Twilight, a visually fascinating entry that manipulates stock footage — in a means that may nauseate some viewers — to convey the circular nature of war. While interesting, it certainly wouldn’t qualify as a form of entertainment per se, but perhaps as a meaningful symbol that will mean something only to the eight or nine people who care.

Reluctantly trudging back into audience-friendly territory is L’Astronaute, a 22-minute French short about a rural family that finds an astronaut suit, which unfortunately was devoid of English subtitles on the screener. Beautifully photographed and filled with cavemen and astronauts (Spike and Angel be proud), it appeared to be a thoroughly entertaining short.

Unfortunately The Nature of Rebirth is as dull as dishwater. It states that Europe’s oldest forest, Puszcza Bialowieska, requires poop and dead bodies to flourish. But really, what doesn’t? One might guess that creationism from a satanic perspective might be the answer but they would be wrong. Renaissance for the Modern Lucifer is a somewhat immature stop-motion animation with some sassy gothic roots. The instinct to die one’s hair black and flip the bird to authority figures — or at least to men in suits — may come about after viewing.

Continuing on with immature shorts is Souvenirs from Asia, a film about a young Korean-Canadian who is utterly pissed that she was adopted as a child — to such an extent that she spray paints racial epithets about noodles on her own house. That’ll teach ’em! The film quality is grim, with a very student short feel.

Odin’s Shield Maiden is a Guy Madden short made to honour someone’s passing. And as a Guy Madden film it should be heralded as genius, even though it looks a bit like that video from Ringu.

Thankfully, after struggling through a relatively crappy series of shorts, there is a hidden gem titled Manon on the Asphalt. It’s a truly powerful film about a young woman reflecting on life experiences, friends, love and things she will never get to do while she lays on the street dying. This is definitely one of the strongest shorts in the festival, bringing great meaning and insight to the truly important things in life.