Official Selection: Flora and Fauna

BY Robert BellPublished Jun 2, 2011

As the program title suggests, the thematic trajectory throughout these shorts is that of nature and wildlife, whether it's rats, pigeons or perverted human orgasm trees. And if nothing else, the big lesson is that a surprising number of people out there in the world feel compelled to make movies about bugs.

Speaking of which, the first short film, The Death of an Insect, is essentially an arty, Finnish, visually impressive ballet comprised almost entirely of dead bugs. While stunning to behold, it's disappointing that no dead donkeys or manatees make an appearance above the city skylines and cold, black abyss.

My Tired Father transports us to Bulgaria, where family dysfunction is exacerbated by the discovery of a rat in a little girl's bedroom. The word "gypsy" is thrown around casually. It's possible that some gypsies were included in Meniscus as well, although the cake-y white makeup covering the plethora of naked, grinding bodies – shot artistically – makes it hard to discern much of anything.

Even though I was raised on a large beef farm and have hands-on experience with just about every facet of that life (I had to stick my entire arm up a cow's vagina at the age of eight when she was having trouble giving birth), I chose to skip by Like Father Like Son when the slaughterhouse imagery became too vivid.

Fortunately, Hop the Twig is actually quite well made, featuring a young girl's fantasies about the many ways her mother could accidentally die. I think death by knitting needle was my favourite.

Unfortunately, A Plain Landscape with a Cradle is a painfully dull examination of a man's struggle with alcoholism, which is almost preferable to weird Inuit short Anirniq, wherein a narwhal whale is slaughtered and a man cries. Oh, and a man tells a kid that a big pole is a unicorn without humour or irony. What's that all about?

And lastly, there's the terribly acted, pointless We're Leaving, wherein a man with a mullet struggles to find a new apartment that will allow pet alligators. I kept expecting him to drink a Labatt 50 tall boy and beat his wife, but no dice.

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