Slap ‘N' Tickle

Slap ‘N' Tickle
What seemed like a disaster from the outset — a series of shorts based around sexuality, coupled with the groan-worthy program title — actually reveals itself to be what may be the sharpest and most poignant collection in the World Wide Short Film Festival. Making love, having sex, whatever the phrasing or connotation, these moments can be brief or elongated but are always part of one developing moment of time.

Some of these moments amount to little more than a clever joke; Thomas Hefferon's four-minute "The Confession" is essentially an old bar zinger about easy Catholic girls set to film. Other shorts reflect small events in a character's life; a young girl asks her mother what a virgin is and receives one of the most charmingly bumbled and honest explanations one can imagine.

Norwegian comedy "Oh My God" presents three elementary school girls experimenting with the idea of orgasms, exposing each other's ultimate lack of knowledge on the subject. This kind of exploration may offend those who think it impossible for preteen girls to scour porno rags as feverishly as boys can but it should be noted gender equality is also a prevalent theme at the Worldwide Short Film Festival.

"Human Assembly" finds a young woman in a retro-future universe with readymade lovers but encounters the same design flaws plaguing the "real" men. British director Bernhard Pucher demonstrates a keen eye for visual humour and achieves a tone of sexiness far beyond the ludicrousness of the plot.

"Protect Me From What I Want" is an incredibly frank and touching tale of a UK teenager's first gay experience. Elliot Tittensor is a winning presence as the charismatic Daz, who seduces Indian teen Saleem (Naveed Choudry). Their encounter is of few words and much passion, a genuine romantic uncertainty. This energy permeates through nearly the entire program. Go with it.