Film School Spotlight: York University Retrospective

Film School Spotlight: York University Retrospective
Having seen many of the shorts that have come from York University throughout the years, I can attest to the fact that this smattering of carefully selected titles doesn't quite represent the sloppy aesthetic and immature angst of the typical student project. It does, however, show a disturbing evolution of style and thematic preoccupation between the '70s and present day.

Throughout this program are multiple snippets of short films from throughout the years, such as a title where Kubla Khan starts up a television variety show and several involving arty dance routines. The first title played in its entirety is Plants out of the Sunlight, which features a mother, not entirely acclimated to Canadian living, working at a factory, when not trying to reach out to her distant, aloof son. Observing cultural barriers and some of the limitations of a land of opportunity, this title captures the anguish of isolation with surprising poise.

Hogtown Blues is slightly less engrossing, having something to do with familial bonds, as a woman tries to reconnect with her father. Of course, this is still more engaging than Fly, which uses squiggles and experimental animation imagery to explore calligraphy, or the flight of a fly, or something.

Documentary inclusion Benediction is somewhat more touching, using still images and recordings to remember a life lost. It's followed up nicely with the standout title of the collection, The School, where the death of plants and animals in an elementary school class leads to a collective premature existential crisis for a group of children. Impressively composed and chock full of witty, dry humour, this short is both the best of this program and one of the best of the fest.
Get It