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article imageReview: Shorts After Dark are a mini taste of the fest’s offerings Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Oct 18, 2014 in Entertainment
"Shorts After Dark" is the international short film showcase programmed annually by the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.
Stitching together a series of short films — or loosely related segments — to form a single feature-length movie is not a new genre, though it is becoming an increasingly popular choice among filmmakers seeking to collaborate. However, there is still an art to arranging a group of distinct shorts for an eclectic program of movie watching. Each year the Toronto After Dark Film Festival screens a Canadian short before each feature, but it also schedules a showing of select international shorts. The subjects vary, but there’s sure to be something for everyone.
Dynamic Venus
Dir. Kaichi Sato, 22 min, Japan
The over-the-top satire portrays a woman who secretly saves the world as her superhero alter ego, but is frequently abused by her husband in her routine life. Though it’s attempting to comment on the matters that allow domestic violence to be tolerated in society, it may not be the best tactic in examining the issues which are dwarfed by the film’s Kaiju elements.
Everything & Everything & Everything
Dir. Alberto Roldán, 15 min, USA
This sci-fi short is a strange blend of “The Goose that Lays the Golden Egg” allegory and capitalism. A man discovers a magical portal that can be compelled to boost its “golden egg” production with increased manpower. It then turns into an exercise of industrialization and expansion paired with the headaches of shipping, employee benefits and talent-poaching. In the end, his greed turns a gift into a joyless venture.
Happy B-day
Dir. Holger Frick, 9 min, Germany
In this dark comedy, a birthday prank takes an ironic turn that unexpectedly brings the central couple uncomfortably closer. Their sense of humour about the horrific situation is what drives the narrative, as well as that their dialogue is so genuine. It’s easy to imagine a real-life couple having similar arguments in less improbable situations.
He Took His Skin Off For Me
Dir. Ben Aston, 11 min, UK
Positioned as the ultimate romantic grand gesture, a man does exactly as the title suggests. The picture is filled with the practical realities of living without skin, including a plethora of bloody finger prints on everything. But the ludicrous love story takes a more serious turn when the ramifications of his sacrifice and their mutual resentment begin to push to the forefront of their relationship. Also, the skinless make-up effects are excellent.
Invaders
Dir. Jason Kupfer, 6 min, USA
A successful felony generally requires substantial, detailed planning. But in this case, the old adage about even the best laid plans has monumental consequences for a couple of indecisive, would-be home invaders. A pointless debate about which mask they should wear during the robbery gives way to an entirely unpredictable turn of events as they attempt to carry out the job.
Liquid
Dir. Kaichi Sato, 12 min, Japan
As a woman’s husband enters the last stages of a terminal illness, she agrees to take him to a healer that specializes in supernatural treatments even though she despises him. The remedy is as bizarre as the woman who treats him. She is suspended in a series of ropes that begin to ooze as she delivers the unconventional cure. This is probably too twisted for the average filmgoer as the nonsensical narrative gets stranger as it progresses.
Redaction
Dir. Tim Sanger, 11 min, USA
This is an eerie depiction of rape and spousal abuse interrogation in a future in which the offense is documented and then the incident is erased from the memories of both the victim and perpetrator. The good cop attempts to provide the battered woman with information and support, while the bad cop explicitly explains that any effort to seek justice by the abused is pointless. The universal consensus to turn a blind eye on these crimes is haunting.
Strange Thing
Dir. Alrik Bursell, 9 min, USA
Somewhat of a parallel to Pandora’s Box, a couple debates a course of action when a mysterious door mysteriously appears in their living room wall. Curiosity says they should open it and find out what’s on the other side, while caution demands they investigate its origin before doing anything. Of course the first is the only interesting choice, but the pair quickly wish they’d shown more restraint. The fairly straightforward plot could have taken more risks, but it still delivers an adequate horror story.
Swordfights
Dir. Nasos Gatzoulis, 9 min, Greece
The story proposes two men are engaged in preposterous professions over which they essentially begin a turf war. Though the title can be figuratively applied to their dispute, they also literally engage in the specified act. It’s fundamentally a ridiculous pissing contest by two men who are fighting to continue an outrageous service. The dialogue is fast-paced and the absurdity of it is amusing.
More about Toronto After Dark, Shorts After Dark, Dynamic Venus, Everything & Everything & Everything, Happy Bday
 
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