Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival: Borders and Barriers • Blurred Realities

Before I dive into the vlogs and my festival rigmarole, let me say that attending these festivals is a lot of fun because so much content is being showcased and each short takes on its own demeanour. It’s rare to see two shorts that hit the same notes in its storytelling or with its visual style. From what I’ve seen of the entries so far, Henry Wong and his team behind the Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival brilliantly categorized these films into their appropriate groupings. This made the short films more accessible and easier to digest.

However, I encountered another fun element to these festivals. This was the first time I had filmmakers approach me and give face-to-face feedback in regards to the articles on Film Army and past festival reviews. To those who introduced themselves, thank you so much. It means a lot to me and the conversations I had with these filmmakers were great. It was more proof backing up that these artists are certainly talented and bright.

I could only stay for the first two portions of the festival. However, even though I stayed for just the first two brackets of films, I saw a lot of potential and creativity in quite a few of these filmmakers.

The films in the Borders & Barriers groupings were more straight forward in their storytelling. The short films and the short form documentaries took on interesting subject matter which was enticing. Sometime the films would hold up throughout, asking questions and stating answers for the audience to dwell on while being visually stimulated. On the other side of the pendulum, there were a few shorts that needed work. I found a lot of the issues derived from their presentations; the visuals just weren’t attractive and some of the formulas the directors decided to adapt didn’t work.

To be honest, I went in to the Blurred Realities screening cautiously. At times, when given the chance to tell a story in a disconnected manner using surreal imagery, directors and screenwriters can “fly off the rails” and submit navel-gazing gobbledygook. Here, most of the filmmakers told stories in a disconnected way but were aware of the audiences they were playing toward. Symbolism was abound but it always connected on a visual standpoint or on an emotional level; rarely did these films feel weird for the sake of being weird.

In this week’s vlogs, James and I shoot some footage of the festival and, for the first time, I conduct an interview in front of the camera. Now, there were some audio issues (I love the Innis Town Hall but when that lobby gets crowded, it turns into a tomb of infinite echos). That said, I subtitled everything that takes place in that lobby.

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I also review the submissions I’ve seen thus far of the festival.

Borders & Barriers

Blurred Realities

Like always, comments are appreciated; good and bad. As long as your points are backed up, I’d love to start a conversation.

Stay tuned next week for my vlog where I review the remaining films of the Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival.

Thanks for watching and have a great week!

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