On Friday, May 15, The Ottawa Canadian Film Festival(OCanFilmFest) is presenting short films that you can watch at the comfort of your houses, and I was lucky enough to watch them and review them ahead of time. Here they are:
The Art Of The Morning(dir.Nathan Hauch)
This short is described as a lyrical look at how one person prepares for the day ahead, savouring each moment, and I couldn't agree more. As it started, I realized that in broad strokes, the film is just about someone getting up and how they spend their morning. On the surface, it doesn't seem like very engaging entertainment for a short documentary. Then you begin the realize that the person we are watching is a disabled person.
A common conception is that life is difficult and that the simplest of tasks must be a challenge, but director Nathan Hauch, who is the main subject of the film shows that this is not the case. Nathan has a glass half full approach, seeing the beauty in the little things.
I applaud the artistic choice of not showing his face until the near end of it, resulting in creatively composed shots throughout the duration of the short. This visual poem is a stunning accomplishment, offering a glimpse into a life that has joy.
As It Was(dir.Blake Garbe)
As It Was follows Mason, a young boy who is experiencing the difficulties of family separation. We see how it affects his parents, his brother, and his sister, and while it is difficult, no one knows how to talk about it. Mason certainly doesn't want to, but no one has a choice. A relatively simple family breakfast results in an explosive shouting match that brings out all of the bubbling emotions
The story is a relatable one. The entire ensemble gets a story, but the filmmakers wisely pick the youngest family member as the focal point. His perspective gives us a new view into this, and the confusion and loneliness it can cause. While his life and family dynamic won't be the same, the way his family feels about him won't change, and that is a massive comfort, both for Mason and the audience. The feels got to me on this one.
This film's greatest strength is the cast. The family dynamic feels real and the siblings get the most screen time. The film opens with the three of them together, and director Blake Garbe wisely ends the film with the three of them together. Overall, this short hits all the right notes and leaves an impression with its knock out performances.
Before Me(dir.Karim Ayari)
There is a sad truth about social intolerance. It isn't a natural thing that people have; it is taught. Before Me explores this with its bilingual tale of a young boy named Mathis, who is becoming increasingly influenced by the xenophobic worldview of his father once his mother begins to date her Muslim neighbor.
The story contained such complex ideas for only a 16-minute short film. I wasn't sure where it was going. At first, it looked like the perspective of a child once a divorced parent begins to date someone else, but that changes once you realize when Mathis doesn't like him. The message becomes quick clear in whatever language the characters communicate in.
I applaud the filmmaker's take on such a difficult subject matter. It was so captivating, and it is such to stick with you long after you watch it. A standout sequence was the introduction monologue with the time cuts and the camera footage the mom capture. Such a creative way to flip the slightly optimistic tone with a hard-hitting family drama.
Our perception of other people, good or bad, isn't an accurate reflection of who they are. This short nailed the message on the head without being too preachy about it, which is a rarity as the filmmakers chose to believe the audience will understand. Just a captivating film. Excellent.
Perfect(dir. Karim Ayari)
Everyone has their perceptions about what is 'perfect'. Our protagonist Julius Quicklax certainly does. He found that he thinks his blind date was perfect, while he was not. Julius has Tourette Syndrome and describes to his therapist how his date went. After getting a glimpse into his life with all his ticks, we see him trying his best to suppress them when he finds that his blind date is perfect.
This sweet comedy-drama is more relatable than you think. Perfection is seen in different ways, and Julius learns that maybe perfection is a flaw that one sees to prevent themselves from truly living and being who they are.
The short benefits from its stylistic cinematography and 4th wall breaking storytelling. The quirky style perfectly reflects Julius' perspective. I appreciated that the filmmakers took a comedic approach to the material, as the tone elevated leading man Richard Gélinas' standout performance.
Andre The Anti Giant(dir. Kim Saltarski)
This short documentary details the life of Andre H. Arruda, an up and coming comedian who suffered from morquio syndrome, leaving him 3 feet tall and limited walking ability. From the age of four, Andre knew that he wanted to be a comedian, and set out to make it happen. His dark sense of humor may seem offputting at first, but his bubbly personality and infectious energy, I found it to be quite engaging.
We are treated to some of his standup acts, provoking big laughs from the crowd. In between, we are given confessions to several of his friends and his health care workers talking about him being such an inspirational figure in their lives.
It's not all fun and games. After a surgery that could have left Andre paralyzed from the waist down, Andre goes through the long journey of having to learn to rewalk and have to readapt to living by himself again. Instead of letting it get him down, he humbly embraces his limitations, and plows forward, letting it inspire his creativity and his comedy act. If you require inspiration, this short is highly recommended.
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