Botched circum-cisions, storage vaginas, adulterous Mormons…. Welcome to the 2006 Worldwide Short Film Festival (WSFF), running Tue, Jun 13 to 18.
Quirky and inventive films abound this year at WSFF, a festival that manages to combine animation, fiction, documentary and experimental films into a tight and interesting package.
My favourite program by far is Pop Goes The World (International 4; 9:30pm on Wed, Jun 14 and 1:30pm on Jun 16, Isabel Bader), a mix of shorts with fatherly themes. Chris Waitt’s Heavy Metal Jr, a Scottish documentary about a dad managing his 12-year-old son’s metal band, is unbelievably funny. The new and little-talented Hatred must ditch their cover songs and write their own for the big gig three days away. With a father who’s a cross between Tom Jones and Ricky Gervais giving them singing tips you’d think you’re watching something by Christopher Guest. What results is a beautiful send-up (and scary reality) of stage parenting and the pop music industry.
Man Seeking Man is a Finnish short by Matti Harju where an older man is waiting for a sex date. However, when he mistakes his long lost son for his hookup we’re in for some very awkward moments. Belgian Renaud Callebaut’s Kwiz has a couple of old biddies duelling with their cellphone ringtones and Squeak ingeniously combines split-screens, rhythmic scratching and editing all to highlight cinema’s power for resurrection.
Pretty Young Things (International 5; 4:30pm on Jun 15 and 9:15pm on Jun 17, Isabel Bader) is worth it alone for Carter Smith’s US short Bugcrush. Based on a story by local Scott Treleaven, the film follows Ben, a cute high schooler obsessed with the new bad boy in town, Grant. He soon falls into Grant’s sketchy crowd and drives out to his isolated house for a night of fun. Grant tells Ben of this special insect he’s discovered. Then the gang soon give Ben a frightening initiation he won’t forget.
Barking Up The Wrong Tree (International 2; 1:30pm on Jun 14 and 7:15pm on Jun 16, Isabel Bader) is also well-programmed, foregrounding themes of the unexpected. The US film Davy And Stu by Soman Chainani sees two Scottish boys meet in a bog — but why are they there and what made another boy, Bobby Denham, die here? Based on a play by Anton Dudley (Slag Heap), the film has some intense moments of intimacy and remains deliciously ambiguous as to who exactly has the upper hand in the end.
Two Australian films from the same program offer perspectives of a meddling third person. The Saviour by Peter Templeman is a comedy where a Mormon gives more than just biblical counselling to married women. When his religious compadres demand conversion, he comes face-to-face with the husband and some surprising news. The other is The Cow Thief by Charles Williams where after the death of his abusive father, a young man must deal with his equally malicious uncle on the family farm.
The late night Slap And Tickle program (midnight, Jun 16 and 17, Innis Town Hall) has some darling dirtiness. Never Like The First Time by award-wining music video director Jonas Odell is a Swedish animated documentary about people losing their virginity. The visuals are fluid and stunning and who wouldn’t want to hear about a 1930s cherry-popping?
Male circumcisions aren’t always that fun in adulthood, especially if the doctor’s gone and fucked it up. Male crotches talk to the camera about their circumcision experiences in Ouch! by Irelands’ Ken Wardrop. Meanwhile Swede Erik Rosenlund’s Butler is a cute animation about a servant who must fulfill duties to both his master and his mistress.
Two other films in Slap And Tickle combine poetry with comedy. From the upstart UK collective Rong comes Oedipus. When a young man is jerking off to a porno mag and comes across pictures of his mom things couldn’t get much worse — that is, until his father walks in the room. Also, the animated UK short Susie by Cathy Snelling waxes melodic about one woman’s voracious vagina.
There’s also a littering of queers throughout the Canadian Programs. Canadian 1: I Got It Bad features local funnyman Robert Kennedy’s Valley Of The Chapstick as well as a doc about male gym bunnies, Shredded. Canadian 2: Work With Me Here has Cameron Groves’s Flamingo and Canadian 4: One Too Many Cooks features Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay’s latest Patriotic. And check out Canadian 3: Woulda Coulda Shoulda for The Young Astronomer by Thom Fitzgerald, a film where a 10-year old boy misunderstands his one-page homework assignment on Uranus.