WSFF: Date Night!

Lunch Date
Of all the programmes I attended at last year’s edition of the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival, the most enjoyable had to be “Date Night.” Screening within Toronto’s CN Tower, “Date Night” makes festivalgoing an event. A night out includes an hour and a half of short films, plus a ride up the tower for dessert at Horizon’s restaurant as well as access to the Look Out and Glass Floor of the Tower. I had the pineapple turnover for dessert last year (recommended), but the trio of crème brûlées looked the most decadent. For a non-Torontonian who had never actually been to the CN Tower, “Date Night” offered a pretty sweet deal. Running at $25 a ticket, the event is a real bargain if one considers that the same ticket for a ride up the CN Tower regularly costs $23.99 sans movie and dessert! Whether you’re on a date, going stag, or simply being a bargain hunter, “Date Night” is sure to be a highlight of WSFF 2012.

Before dessert, though, things begin with a Lunch Date (UK, 11 min.). Writer/director Sasha Collington stars in this hilariously awkward story of a break-up with a silver lining. Annabel (Collington) waits patiently in a restaurant for her lover to arrive. Instead, Annabel is greeted by her beau’s fourteen year old brother (Alexis de Vivenot) who informs her that she is being dumped. Annabel becomes quite dejected that her beau doesn’t have the decency to break up with her in person; however, when Annabel grabs her bottle of wine and exits the restaurant, Lunch Date takes a nice bubbly turn and hints that romance is in the air. Genuinely sweet and candidly funny, Lunch Date impresses thanks to Collington’s work on all three credits.
Café Regular, Cairo
The next course on “Date Night” is the cute chance encounter Rhinos (Ireland, 17 min.). Rhinos is a nice Before Sunrise-y tale that proves that true love needs no translation. After Rhinos comes one of the star attractions of “Date Night”: To Die By Your Side (France, 6 min.), the stylish animated film that is co-directed by Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich). The film is a peculiar little love story that shows what goes bump in the night in Paris’s famous bookstore Shakespeare & Company. To Die By Your Side is a ingeniously literary exploration of love. It is so imaginative that it could only come from the brain of Mr. Jonze (and Simon Cahn, to give credit where credit is due). The eclectic stop-motion of To Die By Your Side contrasts nicely with the natural realism of the next short, Café Regular, Cairo (Egypt/India, 11 min.). As with some of the aforementioned shorts, communication is the key to the relationship in Café Regular, for the film depicts a young Muslim couple that meets for coffee and has a frank discussion. The couple is in the second year of their relationship and the female, Mai (Mai Abozeed), proposes that they consummate their romance. What ensues is a forthright debate of customs and cultural mores. Bolstered by wholly natural performances and dialogue, Café Regular, Cairo offers a true-to-life love story. The film also seems quite timely given the recent revolution in Egypt and in the Arab world.
After the Credits
Unlike Café Regular, Cairo, however, We Refuse to be Cold (Canada, 8 min.) introduces a healthy dose of cliché to “Date Night”. Alternatively, viewers are sure to be aroused by the dramedy I Could’ve Been a Hooker (J’aurais pu être une pute) (France, 24 min.). Hooker is the story of a scatterbrained girl and a straight-shooting guy who meet by chance: she swoons in a department store and he jumps in to save her. She is truly thankful for the man’s help, so she follows him around Paris in order to communicate her gratitude. What follows, though, involves pasta and plans for castration. An idiosyncratic character study, I Could’ve Been a Hooker is one of those love stories that could only happen in the movies. The last short of “Date Night” lampoons the love stories that precede it. After the Credits (Australia, 15 min.) is a delightful, if not gleefully cynical, look at the ripple effect of the Hollywood ending. It sounds all dashing and romantic when a man abandons the altar and hightails it to the airport in order to prevent his true love from boarding a plane; however, the reality of post-9/11 airport security ensures that the honeymoon is over before it even begins. After the Credits is an absolutely hilarious anti-romantic comedy with dead-pan performances and clever writing. This meta date night disaster provides the perfect end to “Date Night.” On to dessert!

“Date Night” screens at the CN Tower on Saturday, June 9 at 8:15 p.m.
There is also a regularly priced screening of the films of “Date Night” at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Friday, June 8 at 7:00 p.m.

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