Official Selection: Love Hurts

Official Selection: Love Hurts
The title, Love Hurts, is a bit of a misnomer for this collection of short films, suggesting that romantic strife is the subject at hand when actually this collection is more about life and death situations, as well as the mistakes we make and the hardships we endure. Regardless, aside from a couple of mediocre filler titles, some of the strongest shorts, albeit most depressing, of the festival are within.

Starting out the program is Parachute, a brief, French, off-centre comedy of sorts where a couple finds the cavalier attitude of a skydiving customer service representative suspect. Inevitably, something goofy happens ensuring the joke has a punch line, which leads us into the far less jovial Off Route 2, where a woman trapped in a car following an accident can do little more than watch while wildlife encroaches and sniffs her out. What's interesting is the play on perspective and time when the short takes an unexpected direction at the midway point.

Coming in with a longer runtime and a surprisingly powerful climax, student short Under starts with an almost clichéd take on a couple dealing with past addictions while on a winter vacation and winds up in a life or death scenario. The intensity comes from the performance from lead actress Zoe Winters, who sells her character and predicament in a uniquely powerful way, making this a challenging and devastating watch.

Following this up is the Nicolas Provost short Moving Stories, which is an extended take of airplane stock footage and hippie-dippy archival narration. It apparently says something about the romance of film, or something.

It is somewhat more profound than the superficial reverse take on Denis Villeneuve's superlative Polytechnique, Tuesday, wherein the students that stayed home to nurse hangovers react to the news of a school shooting.

Remember Me My Ghost is a challenging watch as well, featuring a first-person testimonial of a woman that lived in the Ballymun tenement in Ireland and endured an abusive drug addict boyfriend who systematically ruined her life. Using black & white footage of the locale and artful stylizations, the dilapidated visual element complements the voiceover nicely.

Similarly using artful stylization to complement a voiceover is the rapid Life and Stuff, where a Bohemian douchebag recounts his major life decisions. It's a peppy lead-up to generic short The Master Cleanse, which features a loving couple reduced to enraged monsters while they starve themselves in the ridiculously hilarious titular ode to cleansing yourself of toxins, or some such nonsense.