WSFF: Opening Gala - 'Award Winners From Around the World'

Trotteur, winner of Quebec's Prix Jutra
The CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival revs things up by offering two free screenings before the festival (ie: “Christmas in June” and “Flick-Nic”), but the festival officially begins with the opening night gala screening of “Award Winners From Around the World.” Every festival benefits from a strong screening on opening night, and this programme gets WSFF 2012 off to a good start. As the title suggests, WSFF starts a new year of shorts by showcasing the films that stood tallest in the world of short film circa 2011. So get your passport ready and prepare to fill it with the golden ink of award-show glory.

“Award Winners” begins with the first of three films to take us to Latin America. Luminaris (Argentina, 6 min.) boasts a whopping tally of 50 awards and nominations at festivals worldwide, including both the Audience Award and the FIPRESCI prize at the 2011 Annecy International Animated Film Festival. It’s easy to see why since this animated film by Juan Pablo Zaramella has the vibrancy of real life. Stop-motion animation combines with photo-montage to create a film with a dazzling tempo and keen sense of authenticity. Fans of Amélie will surely light up while watching Luminaris (and look back to see if the crowd is too!). Dripped (France, 9 min.) follows Luminaris and it offers the perfect film for art aficionados. An homage to Jackson Pollack, Dripped is the story about a wily art thief who is also a rabid consumer of painted works. Taking a connoisseur’s painterly approach to the story, Léo Verrier deftly acknowledges styles and masterworks that inspire future artists.
Up next is Armadingen (Germany, 23 min.), which is the warmest, most uplifting vision of the apocalypse. It’s hardly the end of days as seen by Lars von Trier, but like Melancholia, Armadingen shows what happens when the looming threat of annihilation is met with hysteria by one party and indifference by the other. When Walter sees news of the impending doom, he protects his wife, Helga, from fear; however, since Helga is a whiny, crotchety old lady, she is happily oblivious to the oblivion that’s pushing Walter to the brink. Consistently funny and surprisingly moving, Armadingen is sweet love story about how potential loss can rekindle old love. Viewers might not join in a chorus of “Leaving on a Jet Plane” à la Armageddon, but they’ll probably exit the theatre humming “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing.”

Following Armadingen is the clever and noteworthy documentary Grandmothers (Abuelas) (UK, 9 min.) Grandmothers uses voice-over narration to connect testimonials both animated and live action in order to reveal the personal horrors of military actions that tore families apart in 1970s’ Buenos Aires. The mixed form approach enables a haunting blending of the present and the past. The past is infused with stunning artistic vision in Trotteur (Canada, 9 min.), the breathtaking film by Arnaud Brisebois and Francis Leclerc that comes next in the series. Winner of Quebec’s Jutra award for Best Live Action Short, Trotteur is a lyrical depiction of the race between a destitute country boy and a state-of-the-art train. Gorgeous cinematography and an evocative score accentuate the plight of the young boy who tries to escape the poverty of his simple, rural life. A beautiful, enigmatic film!
The Elaborate End of Robert Ebb
After Trotteur, style blends with nostalgia in The Fisherman (El Pescador) (Mexico, 11 min.), which is the third and final film of the night to jet viewers to Latin America. The party ends with the hilarious short The Elaborate End of Robert Ebb (France/UK, 13 min.). An idiosyncratic creature-feature, The Elaborate End of Robert Ebb is a fun tribute to the world of monster movies and B-movie schlock. It’s funny, inventive, and delightfully weird: The Elaborate End of Robert Ebb should leave viewers hungry for fresh little films and ready to explore during the festival.

The Opening Night Gala screening of “Award Winners From Around the World” happens at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Tuesday, June 5 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for the Gala also invite festivalgoers to attend the opening night party at The C Lounge.

“Award Winners From Around the World” has an encore screening at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Sunday, June 10 at 9:30 p.m.

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.)