TIFF 48 – Day 6
by Thom Ernst – Film Correspondent
(September 12, 2023 – Toronto, ON) Note to self: Do not overlook the shorts program!
Ahh, the arrogance! And completely unwarranted. Why is it that I consider the shorts program at TIFF well after I’ve earmarked the schedules with must-see features? Programmer, Jason Anderson has been doing this gig for enough years to know what works and the shorts (and we’ll focus on the Canadian submissions) work.
Mothers and Monsters director Edith Jorisch’s instinct for absurdity is so well honed that even when pushing the camera along a fallopian tube, the situations she creates are more consequential than allegorical. Jorisch tells the story without dialogue, aside from the customary coos and ahhs from a dining room table of a collection of elegant, young, and fertile women. One by one the guests are presented with a head of cabbage which, when unwrapped, reveals a healthy newborn. But the film has the grey hues of a George Orwell novel, putting the viewer on guard for something to rock the cradle—and no, I don’t care that I’m mixing my metaphors.
On the same program is Express. Despite its overt and heavy-handed messaging, there is a lot to like in Ivan D. Ossa’s direction. Express is without contest, a morality tale. There is nothing allegorical to ponder; everything the film needs to express is expressed without ambiguity. But the story holds together with fine performances from the entire cast.
Baigl Nuur – Lake Baikal is an experimental short coming out of Germany and Canada. I can best describe this 9-minute animated short as hypnotic. There is an exploration of language and image that (and I know this from reading the film notes) “reimagines the formation of a sacred lake in Siberia…”. The animation is strong, and constantly evolving, blending from one frame to the next with kaleidoscope-like movements.
Other Canadian shorts appearing at the festival include: Director Atefeh Khademolreza’s Meteor, Director Zoé Pelchat, Gaby’s Hills, Kasey Lum’s Bloom, Miryam Charles’ All the Days of May, Anubha Momin’s Aftercare, Eric K. Boulianne’s Making Babies, Andrea Nirmala Widjanjanto’s Sawo Matang, Marielle Dalpé’s Aphasia, Ryan McKenna’s I Used to Live There, Marni Van Dyk’s This is Not About Swimming, James Michael Chiang’s Xie Xie, Ollie, Catherine Boivin’s 6 Minutes Per Kilometer, Karsten Wall’s Modern Goose, and Jasmin Mozaffari’s Motherland.
Promotional photo from Mothers and Monsters courtesy of TIFF.
Thom Ernst is a Toronto based film critic and writer and an active member of the (TFCA) Toronto Film Critics’ Association. His work has appeared in various publications including Playback Magazine, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. He is known to CBC Radio listeners for his lively contributions to Fresh Air, Metro Morning, and CBC Syndication as well as appearing on-air for CTV News Channel and The Agenda with Steve Paikin. He was host, interviewer and producer of televisions’ longest running movie program Saturday Night at the Movies. Currently he can be heard interviewing Canadian filmmakers on the Kingston Canadian Film Festival podcast, Rewind, Fast-Forward.