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The Best Shorts at TAAFI

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The Best Shorts at TAAFI


This weekend is the Toronto Animation Arts Festival International (TAAFI) and among its bevy of guests and feature films, a whole collection of shorts will be screened throughout the event. Ranging from surreal art to cartoons for the younger set, here are some of the best short films that will be screened at the festival:

The Dam Keeper: Directed by Pixar art directors Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutusmi, this is a beautiful story of a pig who keeps his town safe from sooty clouds, even though everybody else is oblivious to his actions. Laughed at by his classmates, he befriends a sweet fox and what results is a very touching tale. The animation, using computer technology to give it a hand-painted look, is very revolutionary. The character movements are outstanding and compliment the dialogue-less script. This has been a much anticipated film in the animation community ever since its announcement and the wait has been worth it. It’s a short that could very well change the face of animation in the future as the lines between computer and hand-drawn styles continue to blur. (Kids Shorts: June 14 at 11:15 am)

The Fog of Courage: Based on John R. Dilworth’s popular Cartoon Network series Courage the Cowardly Dog, this short does a superb job at translating this fearful canine to computer animation. It retains the eerie quality and cartoonish animation of the original show and Courage is just as lovable as ever. It’s also appropriately creepy as a spooky cloud chases after the greedy Eustace. It’s hilarious from beginning to end as Dilworth gives his characters every crazy expression imaginable. (Kids Shorts: June 14 at 11:15 am)

Monkey Rag: Joanna Davidovich digs into her inner Fleischer Brothers fan for this wonderfully animated musical short. With characters bouncing up and down to a delightful little tune and the humour turned up to eleven, this is going to be one of those shorts that audiences might want to see replayed. If Betty Boop is ever revived for the modern age, Davidovich should be put in charge of that assignment. (Straight Up Toons: June 14 at 1:45 pm)

Yellow Sticky Notes: Utilising the talents of some of the biggest names in Canadian animation, including Cordell Barker (The Cat Came Back), Alison Snowden and David Fine (Bob and Margaret) and Janet Perlman (The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin), this is a funny assortment of short animated sketches depicting a day in the life of each animator. Tackling everything from work to government to Toronto life, there is certain to be something anybody will find relatable in this film. That it’s all animated on yellow sticky pads gives it that added level of charm. (Straight Up Toons: June 14 at 1:45 pm)

Uit Huis: Exploring the universal concept of finally leaving home to embark on our own, this short comically presents the idea of other forces that might keep us there. Director Joost Lieuwma makes the short more and more bizarre every time the main character leaves his house and as a result, it gets funnier and funnier. However, it ultimately leads to a surprisingly heart warming note. (The Reflecting Pool: June 14 at 4:15 pm)

Life is Beautiful: A little person trying to glide through life, while his character design is humourous, the story doesn’t necessarily play for laughs. It is more like an exploration on how why we might treat people different from ourselves and to possibly think of their point-of-view. The direction it takes in the second half is especially surprising, but is effective in conveying the film’s message and the depiction of its setting is notably inspired. (The Reflecting Pool: June 14 at 4:15 pm)

Overboard: A ship’s setting is used as an allegory for the structure of an animation studio, with some clever designs aiding in the humour. The narration makes the messages clear, but without being pandering. Those with knowledge of the inner workings of the animation industry will laugh at the visual gags, while those who might not be familiar will learn a thing to do. Animation is a collaborative process that will occasionally require a lot of people to put together their individual thinking caps and the attempt to make it all gel is the nice theme behind this charming short. (Student Shorts: June 15 at 4:30 pm)

Amoeba: Showcasing animation’s ability to give everything plenty of expression, this cute short shows a lonely amoeba living his life in a Petri dish. It doesn’t take long to sympathise with the little thing and director Bronwyn Horne gives him the best reactions to the various activities he partakes in. The ending is an especially perfect capper to this sad and funny short. (Student Shorts: June 15 at 4:30 pm)

MITE: Stanley Kubrick fans will get a kick out of the start of this short, which takes place in one of the creepiest hallways in film history. The direction it takes, where we see the microscopic habitat of a dust mite is very inventive. The computer animation is extremely detailed and perfectly rendered, but it’s where the story goes that makes this a charmer. (Hilariously Strange & Incredibly Dark: June 15 at 7:45 pm)

Bless You: This short would have been perfect placement prior to a screening of the new Godzilla movie. Those who spent many a time playing Sim City will also find plenty to relate to. The way it combines various animation types adds to the humour and enjoyment of the piece. This is quite possibly one of the funniest shorts you’ll see at TAAFI, mainly for its simplicity and universal concept. (Hilariously Strange & Incredibly Dark: June 15 at 7:45 pm)

 All of these shorts (and many other fantastic films) will be playing at TAAFI this weekend. Tickets available here.

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Review By: Stefan Ellison


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