Honey, I Screwed Up The Kids

Honey, I Screwed Up The Kids
How much can be contained within the relatively short life span of youth? Judging by the shorts that make up the Honey, I Screwed Up The Kids program for the Worldwide Short Film Festival, a whole lot. These kids are haunted by morbid memories, criminal rap sheets, moments of dementia, the Sex Pistols, blooming homosexuality and yes, even death. The program begins on a promising note with Simone Massi’s animated short The Memories of Dogs. The absorbing film about dogged memories features striking black and white images that get lost within each other in a transcendent dreamlike manner, providing for an absorbing experience that is haunting and moving. That is followed up by Rebecca Daly’s equally impressive Joyriders, a film about a quiet ten-year-old Irish girl named Kylie who comes to terms with her father’s death both through her imagination and behind the wheels of stolen red cars. It’s a delicate and atmospheric piece of work that finds sweet restitution via grand theft auto. The rest of the program never quite matches these first two shorts, as it continues through to the senseless stop-motion animation of Monkey and Deer, a little sketch where the titular animals trample through forgotten prairie lands. That film might have been easier to cope with if there were some hallucinogens handy, the kind of stuff that the makers of Mash Up were obviously on when they concocted their stylish and bizarre, but wholly self-absorbed, drug trip through dementia. Fans of the Sex Pistols will have something to look forward to with the documentary Christmas in Haddersfield, which fondly recollects a charity gig the band did… for children! The program would have found an admirable closer with From Alex to Alex, an amateurish-to-the-bone segment that U of T student Alison Kobayashi directs and stars in. Depicting a pubescent letter that the director discovers on a highway overpass, the film is at once confident and confused, innocent and sinful, delightfully embodying all of the contradictions that teenage years are about. Instead of finishing with such a charmer, the evening shoots for a heavy, and not a particularly good, closer. The overambitious Tuesday Morning uses a Memento-like structure to depict the aftermath and restitution of a Columbine-style tragedy. Poor writing paired with high anxiety drama makes us wish these kids didn’t try to get too serious too soon.