Opening Gala: Award Winners From Around The World

Opening Gala: Award Winners From Around The World
The Opening Gala films for this year’s Worldwide Shorts Film Festival is a grab bag of funny and strange pieces from around the world. They are documentaries, animations, dramatic shorts and experimental films that have one thing in common: they’re already festival award winners, so you know there’s not going to be a loser in the bunch.

Paradise is a ’50s tin toy fantasy, an animated adventure taking place in a fully automated utopia where John (voiced by Kids in the Hall’s Dave Foley) works hard every day while his wife dreams of something bigger than their perfectly organised life-on-rails. When he tries to step outside the lines, John’s life is turned upside down. This latest effort by Cannes Award Winner Jesse Rosensweet is beautifully animated, bittersweet and incredibly charming.

Peter and Ben is a touching documentary about a man (Peter) who lives a life of self-exile in rural Wales until his peace and quiet are disrupted by a rogue sheep (Ben). Ben is but a lamb when he enters Peter’s life, and the two develop an immediate and deep bond. Though Peter tries to encourage Ben to rejoin a nearby flock, it’s obvious that they will miss each other more than either is willing to admit!

Situation Frank, directed by Sweden’s Patrik Eklund, is a darkly funny tale of a man trying to cope with his wife’s suicide with the help of a friend. Slowly, with courage and humour, the pair tries to rebuild Frank’s shattered life.

The Pearce Sisters is a strangely beautiful animated piece about the difficult lives of two ugly, hard working sisters who eke out a miserable existence by fishing in some awfully turbulent waters and then smoke the fish in a little shack on the rainy beach. Life offers little joy until a near-dead stranger washes up on shore and the sisters decide to take him in.

Tony Zear (Tony Zoreil originally, though the pun seems to work even better in English) is a hilarious and quirky love story about a man blessed (or cursed) with abnormally large ears. When his father tries to set him up with a similarly big-eared beauty from across the ocean, Tony’s scepticism turns to hope that he may actually find love.

Gravity is a cleverly edited pastiche of many on screen kisses. Jimmy Steward, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly and many others strobe before our eyes as one kiss melts into the next.