TIFF always offers a good selection of short films. Realistically, I cannot watch all of them but herein I do share my thoughts on three shorts that truly captured my attention — It’s Nothing, The Physics Of Sorrow, and Now It’s The Time.
Director Anna Maguire (Your Mother And I) returns with this allegorical drama about a recent graduate, Robin (Emily Piggford), returns to her parents’ house and obsessively starts to dig a hole, encouraged by an impossibly perfect girl; but as she digs, she heads further down a path of self-destruction.
The film co-stars Cara Gee in an intensely manipulative and terrifying role, as an aspect of an eating disorder personified. The hole Robin keeps digging is also part of her eating disorder. The way the film address this very real and debilitating illness is very poignant.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Maguire and Piggford to discuss the premise of the film, the importance of de-stigmatizing and generating new conversations about mental health.
The Physics Of Sorrow
Theodore Ushev (Blind Vashya) returns with this beautiful animated film inspired by the novel by Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov. The film outlines an unknown man’s life as he sifts through various memories growing up in communist Bulgaria, then a melancholic adulthood in Canada. This man, like many of us immigrants, is always searching for a home, family and self.
Narrated by Rossif Sutherland, with a special guest-voice appearance by Donald Sutherland, the films is animated using encaustic painting, a technique in which uses heated beeswax and then adding coloured pigments. The paste is then applied to a surface like wood or canvas. The result is a poetically beautiful story.
Ushev’s work is always engaging, moving, and so very creative. I particularly enjoy it because of its aesthetic, uniqueness, but also because it is also captures emotions that at times we cannot put into words.
Now Is The Time
When internationally renowned Haida carver Robert Davidson was only 22 years old, he carved the first new totem pole on British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii in almost a century. On the 50th anniversary of the pole’s raising, Haida filmmaker Christopher Auchter takes us through history to revisit that day in August 1969, when the entire village of Old Massett gathered to celebrate the event that would signal the rebirth of the Haida spirit.
For several decades, the Indigenous people of Old Massett did not have any totem poles or art because of the restrictions from Canadian laws under the Indian Act, which was first passed in 1876. This Act was later amended to outlaw the community from practicing ceremonies, including songs and dances.
At a time when we hear about Truth & Reconciliation towards Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, stories like this must be shared. The film is filled with emotional interviews with Davidson, his family and community members. It also features original footage and some animation, the film captures three generations of Eagle and Raven clan members as they work together to raise a new pole to once again celebrate their culture in dancing and songs. It is good to see films that celebrates this culture that is alive and vibrant here in Canada.