TIFF Big Stars, Short Form



Short film is an extremely underrated medium. It doesn’t matter how low or high the budgets are, the art in the constraints of short film is difficult to master. Take into account the full story depicted in a regular length feature: setting set up, plot, and full story. In short film, these elements must be infused in the first few frames from its opening. At times, the plot becomes a setting and the tone becomes the story. Sometimes the story evolves purely through the eyes of the viewer. In many ways, the restrictions actually allow the filmmaker a whole new world of imagination and possibilities to cull her art from.

TIFF’s program Big Stars, Short Form brings to light big name actors into these short film constraints.

Trouble and the Shadowy DeathBlow
Dir. Stephanie Lang

Tony Hale stars as Jim Funkle Jim Funkle in Stephanie Lang’s Trouble and the Shadowy DeathBlow. Jim is a food-scientist trying to dig himself out of a career hole after a catastrophic blunder. Ominous moods permeate this piece in subdued tones and lighting, but the kicker here is Hale. Hale’s mannerisms versus his bits of narration, keeps the viewer guessing as to what is really happening to him and the world around him.

Human Voice
Dir. Edoardo Ponti

Whenever Sophia Loren appears on a screen, the audience feels like their in the presence of something regal. In Edoardo Ponti’s (Loren’s son with producer Carlo Ponti), Human Voice, Loren proves that it isn’t merely in her timeless looks, but her mastering of nuanced acting. The film is almost entirely composed of her expressions while she’s desperately talking on the phone with her lover who is leaving her. Surrounded by the vestiges of her youth and romantic filigree of a fifties Sicilian boudoir, Loren is focused within the brutal honesty of emotions. There’s definitely a great love existing in that lens and it’s amazing to witness the attention cast in the film’s composition. Adapted from the famous Jean Cocteau play it adds to the allure of Loren and showcases a wonderful talent by Ponti.

Three Stones Jean Genet
Dir. Patti Smith

Patti Smith directs Three Stones for Jean Genet. Through a black and white lens infused with her beat-poet like voiceover, her tribute to her hero Jean Genet is personal, yet poignant. She relates her search to commemorate or find some validation in her timeless journey for a connection to him. The capturing part of this film are the collected every day Morocco street scenes. A journey of thirty years is encapsulated in her seven-minute tale.

Satellite Beach
Dir. Luke Wilson, Andrew Wilson

Satellite Beach is a short directed by Luke Wilson and his older brother Andrew Wilson. It’s the story of a shuttle manager that plans and oversees the transport route of the space shuttles Atlantis and Endeavor as they head to their new homes in California and Kennedy Space Centers. It’s the kind of story you didn’t expect you needed to know, and once you do, you’re intrigued from beginning to end. The real footage is half documentary and part fiction. Scenes of the freeways with space shuttle fans and Americans paying tribute to the vessels are touching and inspiring. However, things are not quite what they seem and in its reveal, the film unfolds into more prospects and bigger possibilities.

The Phone Call
Dir. Mat Kirkby

Award winning ad director Mat Kirby’s The Phone call stars Sally Hawkins as a phone operator at a crisis helpline. She receives a call from a man (Ed Broadbent) at the end of his rope. Much like Human Voice much of this story is told through the character’s gesticulations. It’s a palpably depressing tale with a quirky, but loving end. The ouroboric life and death rollercoaster takes centre stage. It just goes to show how a good director can make an audience feel so much in the miniscule span of twenty minutes.


About Author

I'm a published writer, illustrator, and film critic. Cinema has been a passion of mine since my first viewing of Milius' Conan the Barbarian and my film tastes go from experimental to modern blockbuster.