imagiNATIVE: The Witching Hour Shorts Program Review (Paolo Kagaoan)

NiiPii

Directed by Jules Arita Koostachin

Eahparas

Directed by Anne Merete Gaup

Retaliation for a Greater Good

Directed by Per-Josef Idivuoma

It seems that I won’t spend time at Toronto After Dark with my colleagues here on the site but thankfully, imagiNATIVE has its own slices of horror and cinema of dread with the midnight screening of The Witching Hour Shorts Program. And the crowd I watched these shorts with was a great one.

The program includes NiiPii, a short about a Cree woman who dreams about her ancestor’s past footsteps. However, her new footsteps also expose her to the contemporary problems that First Nations people are facing. The program also has Eahparas, taking the visual perspective of a Sami child haunting her warrior-like mother, who tries to kill the spirit away. The actress in it bravely defies conventions of female depictions in movies. Both are female-driven narratives that in their own way remind me of Germaine Dulac’s creepy and dusty aesthetic. Finally, there’s Retaliation for a Greater Good, a neo-noirish cat and mouse movie that maybe focuses too much on metaphor instead of delivering a good story. Now I’ll spend more time talking about shorts with longer running times.

The 6th World

Starring Jeneda Benally

Directed by Nanobah Becker

My favourite short film is the first one that the series screened, which is Nanobah Becker’s The 6th World. It starts out with a weird dream that seems to be set in a Southwestern desert, where lonely individual corn stalks stand, eventually dying because of that land’s parched nature. The woman (Bedally) having this dream wakes up and goes back to her reality, which happens to be a spaceship, hoping that corn can emit oxygen that humans need for a long space travel. Their destination is Mars, a planet that hopefully can sustain Earth’s life forms. What ensues is non-comic dysfunction between her and the other crew members, although the ship’s general comments about the huskless corn. I can think of two historical events to compare this science fiction short to, but importantly, its tone resonates to stand out simply as a warning against the risks that overtly ambitious people might take in the far future.

Trapped

Directed by Joshua Mark Yesno

Joshua Mark Yesno’s Trapped has three young people who are…trapped on a nighttime road trip. A young woman is visiting her aunt, who is stuck on a road trip with her boyfriend and her ex-boyfriend, the latter being relegated as the group’s reluctant driver. Oh, there’s a fourth member of the group inside the car, who manifests as the ex-boyfriend’s bipolar self. And all of them have dark make-up spread around their eyes, a decision that seems distracting in its incomprehensible presence until the last five minutes. Loosely based on Yesno’s familial experiences, I don’t want to be overtly critical towards this short. However, the actor playing the ex-boyfriend and his ‘devil’ is better at being the latter than the former, while the rest of the cast are just downright amateurish. Nonetheless I still feel a potential within Yesno and there is something confident about touching such controversial subjects.

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Little Terrors Relaunch Wednesday Sept 19th (Kirk Haviland)

Little Terrors Relaunch Sept 19th, 2012

We here at Entertainment Maven have been following Justin McConnell’s Little Terrors Short Film series for quite a time now. Examples can be found herehere and here. For the last couple of months the series has been in limbo, not holding as many events as in the past, due to legal wrangling and smaller foot traffic leading to financial constraints. Ultimately Justin was faced with a decision that would impact the existence of the series all together. He could shut the series down and file away the knowledge and experience gained for a possible revival down the road, or he could move out of the friendly confines of the Projection Booth East, move into a more central location in Toronto, bring on additional programmers and go for broke. Fortunately for us Justin is a bit of a gambler and has gone for option number two.

Bringing aboard programmers Christian Burgess from The Toronto After Dark Film Festival, April Snellings from Rue Morgue Magazine and Michael Pazst from Raven Banner Entertainment, Justin has moved into the Magic Lantern Cinema Carlton at College Subway station right in the heart of Downtown Toronto. The series re-debuts this Wednesday Sept 19th with a line-up of all new shorts for the Toronto public:

Through the Night (11 minutes, Ireland, premiere) – IMDB

DIR: Lee Cronin

Every night, around the world, couples fall asleep side by side – trusting they know what lies beside them. Tonight, in this apartment, something evil is about to show it’s true face.

SuckaBlood (7 minutes, UK) – IMDB, Trailer

DIR: Jake Cuddihy & Ben Tillett

A gothic tale of a girl scared to suck her thumb – lest the monstrous Suckablood should come.

Undying Love (11 minutes, Iceland, premiere) – IMDB

DIR: Omar Hauksson

The lengths a man will go for love when the world crumbles around him. Current selection of Sitges.

The Congregation (12 minutes) – IMDB

DIR: Michael Foulke

John Christner returns from war to find that he has been shunned by his Amish family and friends for violating their beliefs. However, when a mysterious plague threatens the community, John may be their only hope for survival. Featuring Bruce Davison and Daniel Roebuck.

The Gate (12 minutes, UK) – IMDB

DIR: Matt Westrup

A new virulent strain of rabies is thought to be responsible for a number of horrible deaths in the city of London. It soon becomes clear that the cause of the condition has a much more sinister origin.

Billy & Chuck (15 minutes, Ireland, premiere) – IMDB, Trailer

DIR: Lee Cronin

A tale about a young boy who sets out on an adventure deep into the forest to face his fear, guided only by a voice at the end of his walkie-talkie.

Animal (5 minutes, UK) – IMDB

DIR: Ross Peacock

A man on his way home from work late one night is set upon by two vicious thugs, but as the moon rises in the sky it becomes clear that this man may be more than he seems.

The Angel (7 minutes) – IMDB

DIR: Paul Hough

A little girl visits her dying grandmother in the hospital, unaware a battle will be waged for her very survival.

Eel Girl (5 minutes) – IMDB, Trailer

DIR: Paul Campion

A scientist becomes obsessed with a strange half-eel, half-human creature. From the director of ‘The Devil’s Rock’.

Casting Call of Cthulhu (9 minutes) – IMDB

DIR: Joseph Nanni

A very unconventional casting session is held for a new H.P. Lovecraft film. From the director of Little Terrors favourites ‘Black Goat’, ‘The Necronomicon’ and ‘Elder Sign’.

Day Of The Living? (11 minutes) – IMDB

DIR: Mark Stevensen

The last three zombies on earth are trapped inside a cabin, while an angry mob of humans lingers outside.

So if you are into genre films and like the compact storytelling that short films can offer, then get down to the Carlton Cinema on Wednesday Sept 19th for the newest incarnation of Little Terrors. Justin is an approachable and knowledgeable host, being a short and feature film director himself, and the Carlton has a cozy atmosphere that’s inviting. Also make sure to follow the Facebook Page of the series for info on further events

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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