The Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival Isn’t Short On Fantastic Docs And Animation

This year’s Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival was another success for festival director Henry Wong and his band of merry co-workers.

I can’t remember the last time there were so many documentaries on display in a festival that wasn’t catered to docs only. And, as I say in my vlog, I can’t remember when I saw this many phenomenal documentaries. After the screenings that night, I sent out a tweet saying, “Saw some incredible docs, ones that will be all-time favs!” and those thoughts haven’t changed. The docs I gush about in my coverage are ones I certainly hope will either pop up online so that I can share them with friends and family or take the festival circuit by storm.

On the topic of things in my vlog, I’ll keep this written part light and geared more towards the festival set-up itself. I don’t want to give anything I say away, but in my vlog you’ll hear what I thought about the documentaries, the animated pieces, some feedback on the straight-forward narratives, as well as why masks are better than shirts.

Everyone running the Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival were all great to work with as always. This time was a little bit of a different perspective. Instead of just covering the festival for Film Army, I was also a judge on the Film Critics Panel made up of four other panelists. Those people being:

• James McNally of Toronto Screen Shots

• Titania Plant of Classic Flick Chick

• Courtney Small of Big Thoughts from a Small Mind

• Genevieve Walker of Scene Creek

It was a great talking film with these four and compiling a list of the best shorts that were screened that night. Our number one was a unanimous decision, as it was a film that crossed all of our minds as one of the best.

Henry did a fine job placing each short in the appropriate program. There were three programs lined up for that night.

The first program was called Young at Heart. It was a collection of films that had a particular connection everyone – young and old – could relate to or have in common. This was a very strong grouping of films that made us laugh, made us ponder, and made us grossed out (I’m looking at you In Bubble Trouble…).

The second program was, bar none, the best out of the three as well as one of the best groupings of short films I’ve had the pleasure to sit through. Our Zany Adventures was filled with shorts featuring wild tales of both fiction and non-fiction. It made us feel the same things Young at Heart did but these films had even more of a resonance, if that’s even possible.

The third program is where the festival’s footing slipped a tiny bit. Henry warned audiences to get the tissues ready for A Different Perspective, a program featuring shorts that leaned toward being more serious and somber. The documentaries were about important topics and the filmmaking in the straight-forward narratives was fairly solid. My gripe with the program was that there was too much of a drastic tonal shift from the others. It was a heavy and dry ordeal for the most part making me become fidgety and wanting the pace to “giddy-up”. The program is pitched as “the dramatic program” but it could’ve definitely benefited from the odd “light” film being thrown in there to keep us on our toes and spice things up. However, that’s not to say the program was without some real winners.

To the filmmakers: If I didn’t mention your short film in my vlog and you want some feedback I would love to talk shop about your film. I urge you to comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

There was a lot of phenomenal work on display this year and one could get the feeling that a lot of filmmakers brought their A-game. Congrats to the filmmakers for getting their work in this wonderful festival and getting it seen. And a big thanks to Henry Wong and the kind people behind the Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival for this amazing opportunity.

The Gala Awards:

Achievement in Film Direction: Fiction – Open Invitation, Jae Woo Park
Runner Ups: Prolepsis – Maikol Pinto, Raising Bigfoot – Aaron Robson

Achievement in Film Direction: Non-Fiction – Backwards Rider, Chris Barnard
Runner Ups: Bad Movie – Trevor Chartrand, The Beautiful Dead – Spencer Ryerson

Achievement in Animation – Vernal Equinox, Haiwei Hou
Runner Ups: Bang – Alex Kingsmill, Blind Luck – Diane Aarts

Cultural Relevancy Award – Tainted, Ben Brommell
Runner Ups: Dolime Dilemma: Water Proof? – Kristy Neville, Our Best Friends – Aidan Jeans

Critics’ Choice Award – Tainted, Ben Brommell
Runner Ups: Bad Movie – Trevor Chartrand, Breaking Over Me – Luise Docherty,
Jordans or Justice – U Shift Film Program, Open Invitation – Jae Woo Park

Youth Emerging Artist Award – Ostrichcized, Benjamin Brook

Festival Director’s Merit Award – Breaking Over Me, Luise Docherty

Audience Choice: Young at Heart – Our Best Friends, Aidan Jeans
Runner Ups: Blind Luck, Feathered Bullets

Audience Choice: Our Zany Adventures – Mile Zero, Roop Gill and Jean Francois Taylor
Runner Ups: Bad Movie – Trevor Chartrand, Open Invitation – Jae Woo Park

Audience Choice: A Different Perspective – Breaking Over Me, Luise Docherty
Runner Ups: Heart of Perception – Fabiola Alliu, Vernal Equinox – Haiwei Hou

Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:

Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival: @TorYouthShorts
Henry Wong:
@HCMWong
James McNally:
@jmcnally
Titania Plant: @classicflikchik
Courtney Small: @SmallMind
Genevieve Walker: @ginnynotweasley
Film Army: @FilmArmy
Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

Read my review of Ben Brommell’s Tainted here!
Visit the official Toronto Youth Short Film Festival website here!