Father's Day

Father's Day
Featuring fathers that are neurotic, absent and manipulative, the Father’s Day program of shorts doesn’t paint the nicest portrait of patriarchs. It also isn’t a particularly strong segment, having only two films with any emotional gravity or depth. There are, however, blow-up dolls, boogers, foul-mouthed children and impromptu bicycle repair.

Starting things out with some dodgy Canadian animation is Boar Attack, a short film about a young man reflecting on his ballerina father who may or may not have been attacked by wild boars in the woods. It is definitely interesting and eyebrow raising but not entirely clear in its intentions.

Not lacking any sort of clarity in intent is He Said, a short film about a young boy who discovers a secret about his father after clandestinely following him across town. The inclusion of Kerry Fox foreshadows the taboo that is ultimately displayed, which thankfully doesn’t involve oral sex or dead bodies. Homecoming, on the other hand, has a dead body, thanks to a trite look at a young soldier returning from Afghanistan. Recognisable Canadian thesps Nicholas Campbell and Mimi Kuzyk certainly do their part but the short itself is bland, with a side of perfunctory.

Coming across as more genuine is Alexandra, an emotionally charged and accurate look at modern family dynamics. If nothing else, it points out that paranoia isn’t a particularly sexy characteristic. Another unattractive quality is the desire to manipulate the elderly, as displayed in Gilles’ Lily, a bizarre look at a son who is trying to manipulate his demented father from the perspective of a blunt and foul-mouthed little girl. Standing out as one of the best in this program, Lily is entertaining and quite well made.

Taking a step down in quality is The Foxhole Manifesto, a relatively insightful look at religious hypocrisy that is denigrated by an absolutely abrasive and vile voiceover. It also has very little to do with the overlying "father” theme, unless God is considered the father of all. Block also doesn’t seem to have much to do with fathers, focusing on a seemingly insane man who carries around an inanimate, nude woman he found under a bridge.

Concluding the Father’s Day program is a solidly crafted, well acted and all around enjoyable short called New Boy. Based on a Roddy Doyle short, it follows a young African boy named Joseph on his first day in a European classroom. Simultaneously funny and poignant, this was one of the strongest films at the festival.