TIFF Review: 'Dear Scavengers'

Dear Scavengers
(Canada, 9 min.)
Written and directed by Aaron Phelan
Starring: Hrant Alianak, Helen Colliander, Erin Pitt.
Hrant Alianak stars as Hector, a no-nonsense used appliance store owner in Dear Scavengers.
Hector (Hrant Aianak) is a curmudgeonly immigrant trying to earn an honest living as an appliance salesman in Toronto. He doesn’t quite seem to understand the younger generation, nor does he seem to want to, as they’re all a little too hyperactive and fussy for his liking. “My friend, this is not an art gallery,” he sternly informs a toe-shoe wearing liberal who studies the aisles of Hec’s Appliances in search of an energy efficient stove.

Hec doesn’t like browsers, but he does like efficiency (the sales type), as indicated by the silly mise-en-scene that decorates his store. “No cheques,” reads one sign that is posted behind his desk. “No refunds,” reads another. Also posted throughout Hec’s store are caveats of “No loitering,” “No pictures,” and “Touch with clean hands only.” Dear Scavengers doesn’t need a sign saying “No soup for you!” to make it clear that Hector is the Soup Nazi of appliance store owners.

Hector’s regime is overruled, however, when a flood of little girls enters and enquires about his number of electric stoves. A culture clash ensues as Hector tries to deal with these bratty little kids and shoo them from the premises. This film by Toronto-based writer/director Aaron Phelan (Rockets of Tomorrow, Home) is a hilarious black comedy bursting with antagonistic energy. Dear Scavengers adopts the farcical tone of an angry jungle death match as old man and the young girls face off, and the wily observational cinematography by James Klopko combines with the thundering drums of composer Paul Carroll. The film has a great sense of comedic timing, especially the ominous door chime at Hec's Appliances, which dings at just the right moments. Dear Scavengers should appeal to fans of Moonrise Kingdom thanks to its hilariously offbeat battle between the young and the old. Audiences are bound to find themselves chuckling long after the credits roll. 

 Rating: ★★★★ (out of ★★★★★)

Dear Scavengers plays in Short Cuts Canada Programme 6 and screens Thursday, Sept. 13 at TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 at 6:15 and Friday, Sept. 14 at TIFF Bell Lightbox 3 at 9:30 AM

The Toronto International Film Festival runs September 6-16.

Also reviewed from the Short Cuts Canada Programme are Frost and Asian Gangs