WSFF: CFC Short Dramatic Films

Since the Worldwide Short Film Festival is an impressive undertaking by the Canadian Film Centre, it’s understandable that the fest has a programme to spotlight the latest works by CFC students. This year’s “CFC Short Dramatic Films” offers four films, running about fifteen minutes each, which give festivalgoers a glimpse at new talents that have arrived on the Canadian film scene.

The first film, Parkdale, is arguable by a talent who has arrived already. Previous visitors to WSFF will surely remember Lisa Jackson’s Savage, which screened at the fest and deservedly went on to win the Genie for Best Live Action Short. Jackson’s CFC film, Parkdale, confirms that she is a real talent. Parkdale starts the programme with a gritty dose of realism as two sisters hit the streets of Toronto as they try to escape a return to foster care. As with Savage, Jackson successfully undertakes a worthy, powerful message in her small-scale drama: she can make a succinct point in a medium that takes other artists a feature length. Parkdale differs than Savage though by offering a much more sober tone: whereas Savage took an uncanny, humorous approach to the traumas of Canada’s residential schools, Parkdale is a sparse, natural depiction of lost youth. This stark portrait of life on Toronto streets should hit close to home for viewers at WSFF.

Parkdale sets a bar that isn’t quite matched by Silent Cargo. A well-intentioned, but ultimately heavy-handed message movie, Silent Cargo is a bleak story of human trafficking. The film shows a lot of promise nevertheless, for it boasts impressive production value and an excellent performance by lead actress Ellen Wong.
Oliver Bump's Birthday
After the two dramatic shorts, the programme lightens things up with two comedies. At the top of the CFC class might be Jordan Canning’s film Oliver Bump’s Birthday. At twelve year’s old, most kids might worry about becoming a teenager. For Oliver Bump, however, the approach of his thirteenth birthday poses imminent death. All the previous Bump children have kicked the bucket just as soon as they blew out the candles on their first birthday of adolescence. Ever determined to cheat fate, Oliver constructs a rocket ship and plans to escape. Oliver Bump’s Birthday is wildly imaginative and gleefully peculiar: it’s like a family-friendly Todd Solondz movie crossed with a big colourful cupcake. (With Sprinkles.) As with Parkdale, Oliver Bump’s Birthday includes some outstanding performances by young actors, which further proves that these directors have a really good skill at orchestrating things from behind the camera.

Last in the line-up is arguably the most ambitious film of the bunch, The Secret of the Goat. Goat is a quirky fable about a man and wife whose marriage is thrown for a loop when the husband brings home a goat one crisp autumn day. The story of the love goat plays out in a strangely placeless land of maple leaves and lederhosen, but one’s inability to put a finger on the film is part of its charm.

Which of these CFC alums might turn out to be the next Sarah Polley? Find out when “CFC Short Dramatic Films” screens at the Isabel Bader Theatre on Sunday, June 10 at 12:30 pm.
***Note: this screening is free for students and seniors with valid ID. ***

Please visit www.shorterisbetter.com for tickets, program/film info, and show times.
(And click here for updates & reviews of this year's Worldwide Short Film Festival.)