Published Sep 03, 2013Amidst the thematic backdrop of the first Short Cuts program screening at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, sexuality, identity, conflict and the ephemeral nature of existence comprise a tapestry of creative, 3D animation and experimental short films. More abstract as a package than it is concise or formal, it demonstrates emerging and established talent throughout Canada, taking risks with a highly versatile, ever-evolving medium.
Starting everything off is Theodor Ushev's Gloria Victoria, the conclusion to his 20th Century trilogy, utilizing 3D Russian Constructivism to build and evolve images that detail and examine war and conflict throughout history. What's particularly compelling is the gradual evolution of art, becoming more linear and crisp, as industrial images impose on the animated landscape, giving an impression of artistic theory in relation to the form of war being depicted. It's a very different style than that utilized by Academy Award winner Chris Landreth in Subconscious Password, who utilizes an eerie blend of candid live-action with computer animation, creating a melting pot of mental fluidity as someone tries to remember the name of someone on a game show.
Even more disturbing and strangely erotic is Maciek Szczerbowski's Cochemare, which starts in a 3D stop motion garden of Eden where snails—an overt visual metaphor for the vagina—sit amidst pollen and goblin-like creatures that transcend space and time. Groping and seducing a nude live-action woman walking through the meadow, they then appear in a space station, smearing "pollen" on her bare breasts. Sexuality as the inherent birth of life in all forms is as consistent as the perverse, almost pornographic, close-ups of snails during masturbatorial climax.
The Sparkling River similarly utilizes 3D but does so in a real world environment, mixing potential Science Fiction with stark simplicity. A farmer, awaiting the arrival of visitors for some sort of unexplained cosmic event, finds quiet companionship with one of the young women traversing his land amidst a backdrop of poetry suggesting and inherent worldly disconnect.
It's more experimental than Marie Clements' Pilgrims, which presents as a knowing satire about a German travelling to Canada to experience First Nations culture, using comedy and wondrous landscape imagery to make accessible the bit of incisive cultural observation that's on display.
More overt in its satire is Jean-Francois Asselin's oft-hilarious short Remember Me, which makes literal the modern social media-inspired need for perpetual validation. A man, prone to literally disappearing when not getting attention, has to explain to his girlfriend why he moons people, has sex with anyone he can and persistently acts in an abrasive, over-compensative manner in order to survive. As a text about the modern ego, validated by constant commentary and banal updates in a web environment, this short excels, having an inherently fantastic gimmick and exploiting it to criticize our times with a shrewd eye.