Teenland

Teenland
Another possible title for this program might have been Dead Dogs and Aberrant Teens. This is one of the stronger programs screened at the fest, with a bevy of neurotic teenagers and fragmented generational discord. It’s occasionally upsetting but mostly insightful, with a completely incongruous dance party short tossed into the mix.

Blasting out of the gate with the Teenland program is 1977, a spunky animated short about social and cultural expectations thrust onto a plucky young lesbian. Teenaged homosexuality sucks but the animation and score here don’t. Thoroughly entertaining and engaging, this is one to watch.

Something else that sucks as a teenager is being accused of being emotionally cold and distant by a significant other. In A Small Thing, Margaret is sort of like Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted, only no one hides rotting chicken carcasses under their bed. They do, however, apply defibrillators to a chocolate cake, which is certainly a big plus. The lead, Meredith Cheesbrough, is fantastic and should find herself sliding into the Canadian indie scene sometime soon.

The short film Home is a watchable but somewhat bland film about a young woman who lives in a disgusting house that’s literally falling apart. An obese woman pees without washing her hands, as they have no water. Nice.

Next on the docket is My Grandmother Beijing, a stop-motion animation entry that focuses on plastic surgery for the elderly. It’s less amusing than it sounds. Also lacking humour is Tess and Nana, a film about a teenaged girl who prematurely uses sexuality as a means to gain attention. What is upsetting about this short is the believability of the scenario. Tess seems genuinely unconcerned with her mother’s disapproval, which is entirely logical, as her mother doesn’t seem to care about anything but herself.

Anyone with sensitivity towards canines might want to skip The Death of Shula, as it features a minute-long scene of a dog being euthanised. Aside from this, the short is really quite affecting as a portrait of a man who has lost his dog, which is clearly his only companion, as his children and wife don’t appear to give a shit about him or his dog. People are selfish and vulgar and this film aims to give an example.

Fictional Dance Party comes out of nowhere and doesn’t seem to serve any kind of purpose. It’s not even very good. Aren’t sweaty club kids awesome? Well, no, they really aren’t.

The second dead dog short, Aquarium, captures the quirkiness and uncertainty of youth to great effect. This is likely why it has won so many awards — it deserves them.