The Hipster program (Wednesday, June 1 at 6:15 p.m. and Saturday, June 4 at 12:00 p.m., both at the Varsity Cinema) is not all ironic glasses and facial hair. In fact, the three shorts that close this program play with the definition of “hipster” quite well. Ex-sex is the story of two former lovers who get back together for one more random fling that manages to be sweet, sexy, and complex for a film that only runs 9 minutes. Little Horses is the cringe inducing but thoroughly amusing story of a divorced father trying to procure the best possible gift for his son despite not really having much of a clue what makes his son happy in the first place. Fathermotherchild, one of the best films of the festival in any program, is quite possibly the ultimate anti-hipster statement about a smart young girl forced to deal with the neglect and unwitting mental abuse of her hipster parents. Fathermotherchild is a must see that could easily stand on it’s own and offers insight into how being an iconoclast can turn into an unchecked Peter Pan complex when not viewed in a healthy context.
Growth Spurts (Thursday, June 2 at 1:00 p.m. and Saturday June 4 at 4:45 p.m., both at the Varsity Cinema) focuses on the awkward moments in people’s lives that they grow from and not simply on growing up in a fully literal sense. It is anchored by four very strong pieces of work. Repressed is a tautly constructed film made from a single shot about a man trying to help an incredibly drunk and sick girl get home and away from a young man who might want to take advantage of her. Thermal Bathsis the story of a young man who wins a trip to a day spa but is forced to take his embarrassing alcoholic mother along with him. The film is low key and effective with a slow burn towards a memorable catharsis at the end. The Ballad of J & D is an emotional story made up entirely from found photographs that shows how in some cases motion isn’t even necessary to tell a film on screen. Aglaee is the story of a young man torn between being a popular jerk and following his heart while dealing with a girl with mobility issues that is stronger than he could ever hope to be. It is filled with great performances in a look at how cruel kids can be despite their own better judgment.
The Shorts for Shorties programs at the CN Tower on Saturday June 4th offers parents a chance to take their kids to see some shorts for free in one of Toronto’s most famous landmarks. For each paid adult admission (which includes a trip up the tower and can be upgraded to include the full tour) up to two children can get in for free. The Tell Us a Story program (10:30 a.m.) was the one of the two I watched and is filled with some great stories for kids of all ages. 9 Things I Saw Last Wednesday is an amusing free association of a pretty typical day for a child’s imagination. Marvin (which is also showing in the adult themed Accidental Witness program) is a story of a young man with a hole in his head that is searching for a missing chunk of his brain (narrated by Steve Coogan). Jillian Dillion is the type of sing song tale that kids will devour and might get asked by their parents to play again and again about a half hippo half platypus that is catchy and fun. The closing film of both this and the following All Creatures Great and Small program (1:00pm) is the Academy Award nominated short The Gruffalo, based on a children’s book, about a clever young mouse who creates a mythical creature to escape being eaten by various woodland animals. The Gruffalo is gorgeously animated and will easily appeal to kids and adults alike.