Un ciel bleu presque parfait (A Nearly Perfect Blue Sky) (2016) [Horrible Imaginings Film Festival 2017]

Following an accident, a brother takes care of his paraplegic sister while preparing for the arrival of other beings.

This film by artist Quarxx is one of those that must be seen. The story is well-developed and done in just about the perfect way. The way the story approaches multiple issues including gun violence, disability, the burden of taking care of a loved one, and others is tactful and done with care. The script approaches these issues in respectful ways while also given them the room to be properly shown and have their effects be clear. The writing and directing brings these to the forefront while still letting the film be about the people and how these things affect them.

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Transmission (2017) [Horrible Imaginings Film Festival 2017]

A man is kept captive; his captor both tortures him and spoils him. What does he want? Why is he doing this?

Written and directed by Tom Hancock and Varun Raman, this short has more questions than it gives answers, creating an odd mystery as it entertains with its proceedings. The two leads are used as nemesis in a way and the story unfolds as an odd game of captor/captive that seems to be going to a definite ending but turns out to be something else entirely. The film’s story keeps most of its action in one location and uses this location to its maximum potential. The small cast actually helps the story in creating a sort of intimate chaos.

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Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle (2017) [Toronto International Film Festival 2017]

Julita’s lifelong dream was to have lots of kids, a monkey, and a castle. She achieved all of these. Now, her son, actor Gustavo Salmerón has made a documentary on her life showing how she got to getting her dream realized, how the castle became cluttered with all kinds of mementos and things, and how things changed once she had to move out of the castle.

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Shower (2013)

Perhaps one of the most controversial and polarizing short films of the year, “Shower” has inspired a lot discussion among the media. Is it shocking just to be shocking, is it exploitative, or is there an actual message to be absorbed here? I don’t think there is a wrong interpretation, but I will find it fascinating to see how audiences respond to it after watching it. It’s become a very volatile short film with a climax that I kind of knew was coming, but still left me pretty shocked. Love it or hate it, you have to ask yourself if it’s art, or just a ploy to shake audiences up?

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30 Minutes with Laura (2017) [Oceanside International Film Festival 2017]

A man meets with a woman in a restaurant where they get to know each other.  As they talk, not everything is as it seems.

Written and directed (and edited) by Juanjo Haro, this short film takes a simple premise and spins it on its head.  It builds what looks like a meeting between two lonely people in a restaurant through their conversation into something quite different.  About halfway through the film, something happens that greatly affects the plot.  As this is an important factor into this film, it shall remain a secret here.  The film takes this and works with it, explaining itself in images, something that may not have been needed, but works well nonetheless.

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Fantasia International Film Festival 2017 Wrap-Up [Fantasia International Film Festival 2017]

This year was a huge year for myself in terms of coverage I was able to do at Fantasia. Having moved back to Montreal (albeit temporarily), I was able to see a huge number of films at the fest, which led to an average of 2 films per day most days with just a few days off to recharge. 2 films per day may not seem like a lot, but when you factor in the reviews being written to publish as soon as possible and networking every night after the fest, the best festival of the year for this reviewer becomes the most exhausting. Your schedule shifts to live between 12noon and 4am most days, waking up then writing reviews, sending reviews, going to the fest in the afternoon or at night, then to the official pub to meet with filmmakers, reviewers, staff, and fans, then bed at 4am-ish most days, the schedule takes a toll. Kudos to the staff of the fest who are up all day working, then all evening and part of the night before doing it all over again the next day, this for 21 days. I know I could never do that for that long. Even with a few full days off to handle life and try to survive, it was an exhausting yet exhilarating experience to be able to be there from the programme launch the week before the fest to post fest goodness with friends.

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A Boy and His Beast (Un Garcon et Sa bête) (2017) [Oceanside International Film Festival 2017]

A young aristocratic boy adopts a dog on his birthday.  As he teaches his dog tricks and learns to love his pet, something happens and he meets a surprise in the family’s yard.

Written by Crystal Perea and directed by Calley MacDonald, this short stop-motion animation film is adorably cute and funny.  The story shows a lot of heart and love in a family that is rather strict and not accepting of new things.  The boy at the center of it all is the black sheep of his family and is shown as a sweet, loving boy.  The way the story is built, the surprise near the end is not evident or easily guessed.  While there is indeed more to this story than first meets the eye, it all makes sense in a way.  This story is loving and filled with just the right amount of humor to make it a comedy but without going overboard silly.  The film has very little dialog, almost none really, and it shares its story and emotions through well done animation and through its music.

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