Your guide to the 18th edition of North America's largest celebration of short film.
The annual cinematic antidote to ADHD that is the Worldwide Short Film Fest (WSFF) returns to Toronto screens this week, featuring another lengthy lineup of brief-but-brilliant distractions. Running through to June 10, the fest’s 2012 edition boasts 244 selections from 35 countries, which, once again, have been helpfully sorted into themed categories that cater to every taste—unless you’re a stickler for epics. The tasteless, too, are in luck, thanks to new WSFF venture The Night Shift, a four-hour midnight marathon at the revamped Bloor Cinema, dedicated to the deranged and depraved. Making a return, meanwhile, is Towering Shorts, a full day of screenings and activities at the CN Tower, as well as popular music video spotlight Scene Not Herd.
Also returning to the fest is star-studded screening program Celebrity Shorts (June 7, 7:45 p.m.), which, as ever, is an ideal entry point for WSFF newcomers. Famous faces featured in this year’s eight selections include Judi Dench, Charlotte Rampling, Anna Paquin, John Malkovich, Rainn Wilson, and Michael Fassbender. The Shame star joins Game of Thrones actor Liam Cunningham in monochrome mini-caper Pitch Black Heist, about a pair of hardened safecrackers tasked with circumventing a light-sensitive alarm system. We’re also pretty fond of Friend Request Pending, in which the typically dignified Dench falls to pieces over a flirtatious Facebook exchange. Look out for a cameo from Avengers scene-stealer Tom Hiddleston.
In addition to appearances from A-list actors, this year’s WSFF boasts several selections from notable directors. Celebrated documentarian Errol Morris sheds light on a shady character with alleged links to JFK’s assassination in The Umbrella Man, the highlight of the eclectic, semi-surrealist program Who’s Your Dada? (June 9, 7:45 p.m.). The program also includes Nothing Else, from Anne Émond, whose first feature, Nuit #1, won the Claude Jutra prize at the 2012 Genie Awards. In the Date Night category (June 8, 7p.m. & June 9, 8:15 p.m.), Spike Jonze contributes To Die By Your Side, a stop-motion romance about a skeleton who woos a fetching damsel into jumping his bones.
Jones’ saucy short wouldn’t go amiss in WSFF’s Slap ‘n’ Tickle program (June 7, 10:15 p.m.), which assembles 12 of the festival’s most amusingly risqué offerings. Mouthful playfully explores the trauma of discovering that your GF’s ex was enormously well-endowed, while Would You features 21 Jump Street‘s Dave Franco, as well as Christopher Mintz-Plasse in his steamiest scene since McLovin got lucky in Superbad. And then there’s The Relationship Doctrine of Don Blanquito, which sees the eponymous Brazilian bro-rapper smugly expound on love, lust, and the finer points of how to “get that vagina.”
Other programs we heartily recommend: Iron Ladies (June 9, 3 p.m.), which opens with the terrific What a Young Girl Should Not Know, by York University’s Emily Pickering; The Family Compact (June 9, 2:15 p.m.), featuring the ever-compelling Peter Mullan in Long Distance Information; and the aforementioned Night Shift (June 9, 11:30 p.m.), which includes Bobby Yeah, a stop-motion body horror tour de force that would give even a young Cronenberg the willies.
Stills courtesy of WSFF. For tickets and a full schedule of screenings and events visit the festival’s website.