Ape Sodom: A man shoves a lubricated iPhone up his posterior. His slave peddles leaflets as “merchandise”, between ritual worship of L. Ron Hubbard and lucid, oddly soothing jellyfish-inspired daydreams. David Cronenberg narrates this beguilingly odd post-consumerist fable; a film of rare ambition unlike anything you’ve seen before. Tangibly believable yet wholly alienating, director/star Maxwell McCabe-Lokos holds a fractured mirror to morose modern morass. What’s disturbing is just how recognisable his world appears. If you squint hard enough, you could well see yourself in the bizarre hierarchy keeping these lost souls on the edge of their sanity. Love it or hate it, Ape Sodom is sure to linger in the mind long after those jellyfish drift from view.
Gods Acre: In 15 short minutes, hugely promising Cree filmmaker Kelton Stepanowich manages what so few ever can: he irrecoverably, effortlessly breaks your heart. Following the last remaining inhabitant of a patch of Canadian wilderness, Stepanowich captures his Native people’s intrinsic, elemental connection to their surroundings with remarkable elegance and grace. Acknowledging nature’s passive brutality, the director weaves an intimate portrait of one man’s doomed efforts to maintain his homeland despite all odds. Steadfast tradition and harsh reality collide with grave consequence. Frank, our hero, may try to prolong the inevitable, but there is no escaping his fate. A soulful central performance from Lorne Cardinal, combined with Stepanowich’s assured, gently moving direction and jaw-dropping Canadian vistas help sell the painful tragedy that can only come from the past refusing to adapt to the present.
Mariner: Haunted by childhood trauma and the dizzy heights of his own expectations, the life of a trainee sailor begins to unravel during his final, all-too-crucial final exams. Thyrone Tommy presents a deeply humanistic insight into the rivalries, friendships and downfalls that help define young adult life. A single, seemingly negligible error on his practical trial unleashes a poisonous torrent of doubt to infect the student’s subconscious, shaking his inner confidence and warping his demeanour as the weight of his mistake grows ever stronger. Marred only by an incessant reliance on naval (read: anal) jargon, Tommy’s third short is a truly accomplished work spelling even greater things verging on the horizon.