Here’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. I’m delighted to share the full lineup for our 2020 (virtual) festival, which will be screened online all across Canada from November 13-22. Thanks are in order to our amazing programming team: Linda Taillon, Diana Sernick, Keith Klegman, Cameron Carpenter, Shelagh Rowan-Legg, Brennan Tilley, Ariane Molinatti, Iris Bagola, Amanda Clarke, Caterina Micci, Felix De Leon, Emily Monroe, Catharine Macdonald, Tammy Magnusson, Alessandro Romano, Caitlin Mayberry, Terry Chi, Hillary Butler, Kyle McCarthy, Craig McCourt, and Ignacio Hernández. I couldn’t have done it without your help!
74 films from 24 countries. Narrative films (43), documentaries (13), and animated films (19); something for everyone. Some other facts: 16 Canadian films, 28 films directed by women, 11 student films.
705 (Canada, 3 minutes)
Dir: Samantha Henry
A character lives in an inhospitable world, but they start their day just like many of us; with a fresh cup of coffee.
A JAR OF NUTS (Cyprus, 17 minutes)
Dir: Savvas Stavrou
Isolated in his apartment, the lonely forty-year old Giorgos meticulously devises an intricate plan to take his life after his beloved mother chokes to death on a pistachio.
As the day progresses, Giorgos allows excuses, obstacles and people to hinder his final deadly leap from the balcony, completely oblivious to the true reason behind all his stalling.
À LA MODE (France, 9 minutes)
Dir: Jean Lecointre
In a kingdom tormented by fashion crazes, a queen and her court must always keep up with the new trend. If not, an abominable monster will consume them: the Ridicule. But with the arrival of a disarmingly natural cowboy, this nation of fashion victims laughs, and a simple question arises: what if the Ridicule isn’t what we think?
ARCHIBALD’S SYNDROME (France, 19 minutes)
Dir: Daniel Perez
Archibald was born with a curious curse: he can’t make a move without everyone around doing the same. In despair, he robs a bank and meets Indiana, a young woman who has always escaped every form of control.
AS YOU CAN SEE (Egypt, 8 minutes)
Dir: Ghada Fikri
Can the lines in a hand hold stories? What memories do the grooves store? Ghada invites her mother to reflect on her life while taking us on a poetic exploration into her mother’s hands: the hands that raised five children almost single handedly. Why, Ghada asks, should someone have to give up their hands for those they love?
ASPARAGUS 2 (USA, 5 minutes)
Dir: Yuma Slowbinder
The next great American asparagus movie.
A doctor informs his patient that when he thinks he’s eating asparagus he is actually smoking an entire pack of unfiltered Cuban cigarettes. Upon learning this the patient must reckon with his own subjectivity, with no help from at all from his doctor.
BALLAD OF MUSIC NOTES (China, 4 minutes)
Dir: Xi Chengzhuo
For every piano player, there is a world of notes in the score book, and every performance is a journey into this world. Books are the carrier of the world. In the same world, the people who enter and the way they play are different. What happens when two different players enter the world?
BEHIND THE MASK (UK, 11 minutes)
Dir: Simon K. Matthews
Two actors enter a mental, physical and emotional dick-swinging contest, leading to the inevitable reveal of their worst selves. Urgh, actors.
BETTER THAN NEIL ARMSTRONG (Iran, 20 minutes)
Dir: Alireza Ghasemi
Four kids start their journey to the moon with the mission of finding a mysterious place called The Redland but the gates are being guarded by a mischievous snake.
BKS (Canada, 11 minutes)
Dir: Alexa-Jeanne Dubé
BKS is a short fiction film using A.S.M.R. video codes to unfold.
THE BOOK (EL LLIBRE) (Spain, 3 minutes)
Dir: Francesca Català
A librarian is bored sitting at her desk until one book falls down from the shelves and interrupts her monotonous day.
BUT YOU’RE NOT BLACK (Canada, 19 minutes)
Dir: Danielle Ayow
A Chinese-Caribbean-Canadian woman, driven by people’s inability to separate her skin colour from her culture, tries to own the Trinidadian identity she knows should feel like hers.
CAMERA OBSCURA (France, 19 minutes)
Dirs: Mary-Noelle Dana, Sonia Sieff
Cléo, a fervent feminist, works in a catering company to pay for her studies. Hired on a fashion shoot by the team of Alice Klein, a world-famous photographer, Cléo is forced, at the risk of losing her job, to replace an unsuitable model at a moment’s notice.
CAYENNE (Canada, 11 minutes)
Dir: Simon Gionet
During her night shift at a remote gas station, a female clerk agrees to help a man whose car has broken down. While they both attempt to repair the vehicle, the driver’s intentions leave the young woman uncertain. In the middle of the deserted parking lot, an air of apprehension fills the night as the events of the evening unfold.
THE CHIMNEY SWIFT (Germany, 5 minutes)
Dir: Frédéric Schuld
19th century Europe. A child climbs up a chimney while a bird sails down into it to build a nest. An encounter with no way back. A British chimney sweeper describes his everyday routine of forcing young kids to become workers. While we observe a kid cleaning a chimney, the master’s statement gets more personal with every sentence until we understand, that he is speaking about his own past.
CIRCUS MOVEMENTS (Germany, 15 minutes)
Dirs: Lukas Berger, Mário Gajo de Carvalho
Circus culture is a space of diversity, cooperation and integration. A magical space with real people. Circus Movements was shot with circus kids from Ethiopia – Liya and Beza, doing the hula hoop; Habtamnesh, doing the aerial hoop; and the Beniyam, only 5 years old, performing acrobatics. Collectively, they are great circus artists performing in the magnificent landscapes of Ethiopia.
CUCKOO! (KOEKOEK!) (Netherlands, 7 minutes)
Dir: Jörgen Scholtens
A lonely man lives inside a cuckoo clock. Every hour he straps himself into his ejection seat and shoots through the doors of the clock. “Cuckoo!” He yells, “Cuckoo!” His work is of vital importance. The old lady who sits under the clock needs to take her medication exactly at the top of every hour. One day the man has the opportunity to win a substantial sum of money in a radio quiz. He loves gadgets and wants to buy a new computer. The only problem is that he can only dial in at the exact time he’s supposed to sit in his seat.
DEEP LOVE (Кохання) (Ukraine, 14 minutes)
Dir: Mykyta Lyskov
Deep love has finally happened in Ukraine
DOG DAYS (Poland, 15 minutes)
Dir: Zuzanna Gracjewicz
What is lacking in the world in which animals no longer exist? The two protagonists of Dog Days decide to establish a company which provides services for those who need a replacement for animals that are already extinct. In the relationship between humans and animals, all kinds of emotions are involved. Along with friendship and attachment, there is always a certain amount of violence, which will seek an outlet.
EMPTY PLACES (France, 8 minutes)
Dir: Geoffroy de Crécy
Where is everyone?
EXHALE (Ukraine, 6 minutes)
Dir: Igor Stekolenko
We observe the heroine in the most critical and significant moment of her life. She has been caught alone in the wasteland, in conditions that are unsuitable and disturbing for such an irreversible process. Her fearless determination and metaphysical force turn crisis into a positive resolution of the inevitable. Finally, the heroine is not alone anymore.
FELT LOVE (USA, 7 minutes)
Dirs: Arlene Bongco, Angeline Vu
A young boy learns to understand the depth of his mother’s love despite the distance her dedication may create.
FREEZE FRAME (Belgium, 5 minutes)
Dir: Soetkin Verstegen
Freeze frame: the most absurd technique since the invention of the moving image. Through an elaborate process of duplicating the same image over and over again, it creates the illusion of stillness. In this stop motion film, identical figures perform the hopeless task of preserving blocks of ice. The repetitive movements reanimate the animals captured inside.
FRENCH CINEMA (Bulgaria, 20 minutes)
Dir: Galina D. Georgieva
In a small country town, in the room behind the screen at the local cinema, two women spend their time by writing letters to Alain Delon. Inspired by The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov.
FULLY INVOLVED (Canada, 11 minutes)
Dir: Kyle Kulla
Brampton Fire Captain Glenn Berwick discusses the horrific realities of being a Fire Fighter and the mental toll it can take on a person. Through his work, Glenn discusses having to build the mental barriers to be able to continue the job and how this strength plays a factor when he suffers extreme loss in his personal life, the suicide of his best friend.
FUNFAIR (Iran, 15 minutes)
Dir: Kaveh Mazaheri
Majid, a young financially struggling man, comes up with a ploy in order to better the life of his wife Sarah.
GANEF (UK, 14 minutes)
Dir: Mark Rosenblatt
London 1962. A little girl, spooked by a dark tale from her mother’s wartime past, starts to imagine their beloved family cleaner (Downton Abbey’s Sophie McShera) is a thief. GANEF (Yiddish for ‘thief’) explores how trauma can be passed from one generation to the next.
GLAD YOU’RE HERE (Canada, 10 minutes)
Dir: Lisa Kannakko
This autobiographical short film covers a 19-year history of the filmmaker’s life. It unfolds a traumatic story in a way that captures the viewer and offers transparency and new beginnings. A story about an extreme moment of crisis has turned into a documentary that deals not just with the subjective but with the important issue of spousal abuse.
GOODBYE GOLOVIN (Canada, 14 minutes)
Dir: Mathieu Grimard
For Ian Golovin, the death of his father is the chance at a new life outside his native country. As he prepares to leave and bid farewell to his sister, he is forced to face his decision — why he is always blindly moving forward and what he is leaving behind.
GREEN GRASS (Canada, 8 minutes)
Dir: Michael Greco
Poignant, powerful, and told without dialogue, Green Grass is a thought-provoking allegory that follows two hopeful migrants who make the arduous journey to what they believe must be a better life only to discover their destination may no longer be the place they thought it was.
HOT DOG (USA, 10 minutes)
Dir: Patrick Muhlberger
A group of coworkers try to rescue a dog trapped in a hot car. Chaos ensues in a single shot.
HOW TO FALL IN LOVE IN A PANDEMIC (Ireland, 10 minutes)
Dir: Michael-David McKernan
How to Fall in Love in a Pandemic is a short doc filmed in lockdown that follows a capsule romance between two filmmakers and how they are forced to move in together after knowing each other for just two weeks.
HUNTSVILLE STATION (USA, 14 minutes)
Dirs: Jamie Meltzer, Chris Filippone
Every weekday, inmates are released from Huntsville State Penitentiary, taking in their first moments of freedom with phone calls, cigarettes, and quiet reflection at the Greyhound station up the block.
THE ICE CUBES (LES GLAÇONS) (Belgium, 10 minutes)
(Dir: Sara Dufossé)
The Ice Cubes tells the story of a past relationship and what’s left of it after a few months, shot in a single take.
IDOLS NEVER DIE (Canada, 17 minutes)
Dir: Jerome Yoo
When Korean pop idol “N.D.” tragically dies, a dysfunctional group of high school fan girls discover a hidden message in his music, which leads them on a quest to fulfill his final wish — to spread his ashes over the tallest tree in their hometown forest.
JESSE JAMS (Canada, 16 minutes)
Dir: Trevor Anderson
A young Indigenous musician and his rock band bring mumblepunk to the Interstellar Rodeo. A rock ‘n’ roll survival story of a different stripe.
JUMPERS (France, 8 minutes)
Dir: Mario Schiniotakis
A group of rollerskaters take the streets of Paris as their playground.
KILT (France, 14 minutes)
Dir: Rakel Ström
Like lots of guys, Philippe is hairy.
Like lots of guys, Philippe is going bald.
Like lots of guys, Philippe would like to turn into a woman sometimes…
Today, Philippe has decided to become a brand new man!
THE LITTLE BEACH (LA PLAYITA) (Argentina, 13 minutes)
Dir: Sonia Bertotti
The city of Corrientes in summer. On the shores of the Paraná River, in the shadow of the General Belgrano Bridge, thousands of families compete for space for their umbrellas and chaise lounges. Priscila, a 7 year old girl no one pays any attention to, sets out in pursuit of an elusive toy vendor, getting further away from her family and closer to adventure.
THE LONELY ORBIT (Switzerland, 9 minutes)
Dirs: Frederic Siegel, Benjamin Morard
Leaving for his dream job, a satellite technician keeps solitude at bay by constantly texting with his old friends. After he neglects his duties, a satellite leaves its orbit which causes the world’s network to collapse.
MARTY (Canada, 7 minutes)
Dir: Mike McKinlay
Marty follows an 11 year old ’80s obsessed skate punk – stuck in the past while struggling to navigate the present.
MEATS (USA, 10 minutes)
Dir: Ashley Williams
A pregnant vegan struggles with her newfound craving for meat.
NORMAL (France, 11 minutes)
Dir: Julie Caty
Dany has a magic gift: he just snaps his fingers to get everything he desires. But he finds all that stupidly uninteresting or, to use his most usual expression: “NORMAL”! To overcome so much weariness, Dany drugs himself by consuming Magic Powder but one day, it runs out. Dany, completely defeated, stays in his room… and starts reading.
OUT OF ORDER (Canada, 17 minutes)
Dir: Matthias Falvai
In the not-so-distant future, Christopher, a depressed young man, enters a Suicide Assistance Booth hoping to end his life; however, the sentient AI has a plan of its own.
THE OWL (UGGLAN) (Sweden, 8 minutes)
Dirs: Simon Pontén, Joakim Behrman
The mood in a teachers’ lounge changes when the reason behind a teacher’s nickname is brought to light.
PEETE (Canada, 10 minutes)
Dir: Simon Madore
A washed-up misfit by the name of Peete moves temporarily into a quiet suburb. As he waits for a loved one to contact him, he forms a bond with a young neighbour to whom he bears a strange resemblance.
PERLE (France, 15 minutes)
Dir: Juliette Boucheny
Following the death of the man she loves, Perle decides not to live without him. One Saturday in July, in the heat of Cannes, her daughter and grandson come to lunch. Between the real and the unreal, Perle lives…
THE PHD (Canada, 20 minutes)
Dir: Maxime S. Girard
A romantic dinner turns into a ludicrous disaster when Bruno, an anxious psychology student, has to lie to his control-freak boyfriend about what really happened during his PhD entrance interview earlier that day.
PIPO AND BLIND LOVE (France, 13 minutes)
Dir: Hugo Le Gourrierec
In a dehumanized world where emotions are rationed and measured by gauges, Pipo, a young worker, falls under the spell of a young woman sitting on a bench. He will do everything he can to attract her attention and to seduce her with words of his own.
POSTPARTUM (Germany, 5 minutes)
Dir: Henriette Rietz
Postpartum is about the chaotic phase in life of a fresh mother. Pumped up with hormones and lacking sleep, this intense time has burned deep into the protagonist’s heart. This film is an honest and very personal insight into the world of an overwhelmed mother, who seriously thought that parental leave would become a sort of sabbatical.
THE PRAYER (China, 14 minutes)
(Dir: Xinyu Cao)
After a night of heavy drinking, an anaesthesiologist is asked to work his hospital connections to bring the best attention to his young grand-nephew who was hit by a car the previous evening. Fear and a sense of guilt escalate when he spots a dent on the back of his car. No matter where the truth lies, this atheist turns to pray before going into the operating room.
PREY (Canada, 6 minutes)
Dirs: Aiken Chau, Ella Ye, Keni Xiao Xuan Ji, Ryan Maman, Anastasia Adela Putra, Alice Liu, Sabrina Shan, Saniya Baig, Danny Del Toro, Rujun Ma, Summer Oh, Sabrina Shan, Nathan Chen
A relentless hunter travels through the forest collecting antlers and discovers monstrous consequences for his actions.
RAIN MACHINE (France, 10 minutes)
Dir: Jérôme Walter Gueguen
Two explorers arrive ashore in an abandoned land in search of a mysterious beast. Under a permanent driving rain, torn between their opposing beliefs while struggling with heavy equipment, they will walk together or die.
REMINISCENCE (USA, 5 minutes)
Dir: Chieh Cheng
Reminiscence is about a grandmother and her grandson, both immigrants from Earth living on Mars, who travel from the red planet back to the blue one. This film addresses not only the importance of a common destiny shared between humanity and Earth but also traces our history which roots in our memories. In the journey from the future to the past, between the virtual world and reality, viewers are asked to ponder the essence of life today and what it means to the humanity of the future.
RINGING (DAS LÄUTEN) (Germany, 19 minutes)
Dir: Erik Zühlsdorf
Jonas is a lost teenager. In desperation, he locks himself in a classroom with his teacher. He pulls out a gun to go on a rampage, but he gives his teacher the chance to write down some last words.
ROUTE-3 (Bosnia and Herzegovina, 13 minutes)
Dir: Thanasis Neofotistos
In a tram on Route-3, the old lady in the leopard dress treats the passengers with juicy oranges during a hot, but rainy day in the centre of Sarajevo. Nadja, the princess-teen in her pink hijab; Luka, the virgin bully; an Orthodox Priest; an old creepy man and many, many more ordinary people in this tram have nothing in common, but a juicy slice of orange. All except a shy, yet horny, teenager named Amar.
SAD BEAUTY (Netherlands, 10 minutes)
Dir: Arjen Brentjes
In a heavily polluted world, a young woman mourns the disappearance of animal species. When she falls ill due to a bacterial infection, nature appears to send her a message in her hallucinations.
THE SIZE OF THINGS (EL TAMAÑO DE LAS COSAS) (Colombia, 12 minutes)
Dir: Carlos Felipe Montoya
Diego lives with his father in a house without things, without furniture, without anything. One day he finds a chair deep in the woods and the desire of possession arises. Diego takes the chair back home but his father disagrees and orders him to return it. At night, the father recognizes the boy’s feeling of dearth and allows Diego to bring the chair again. Diego returns to the forest but something has happened, something really big. He can’t bring the chair this time.
STORY (Poland, 5 minutes)
Dir: Jolanta Bankowska
Story is a reflection about modern man in an age of omnipresent technology. Looking through stories – a popular function in many social media platforms – we see people who are lonely, lost or already indifferent about reality surrounding them. Action takes place during one day and it’s told by short, often (auto)ironic scenes, where virtual world sinks to reality.
STUD BOOB (USA, 10 minutes)
Dir: Shaina Feinberg
Two sisters in a bathroom debate their different approaches to the patriarchy.
SUNDAY (India, 10 minutes)
Dir: Arun Fulara
When the middle-aged Kamble makes his weekly visit to the neighbourhood barber shop, it’s not just for a shave. He can’t wait to be touched by Jaan, the new barber-boy he has a crush on. It’s the highlight of his otherwise dull existence as a married man leading a dual life in a society that abhors homosexuality.
SUPPORTER (Прибічник) (Ukraine, 8 minutes)
Dir: Sergey Naida
Transporting cultural value from another dimension, the courier soldier finds himself in the vastness of the Ukrainian present.
TODAY OR I’LL DIE (AUJOURD’HUI OU JE MEURS) (Canada, 7 minutes)
Dir: Kristina Wagenbauer
After a month of texting, Zoe has organized a perfect first date with Marc. Their expectations will be tested by reality.
TOXIC (TÓXICO) (Mexico, 18 minutes)
Dir: Fabián Archondo
A couple in a marriage crisis will have to survive a terrible explosion that releases toxic particles into the environment while being trapped in a little house in the middle of the desert.
TRIMMING (ZUSCHNITT) (Switzerland, 15 minutes)
Dir: Larissa Odermatt
A film about one’s own hair, about self-discovery, social constraints and defining beauty ideals in the digital age.
TRUTH HERTZ (USA, 3 minutes)
Dir: Shaun Majumder
When a father suspects his son is lying, he buys lie detector robot and gets more truth than he had hoped for.
THE VASECTOMY DOCTOR (Ireland, 11 minutes)
Dir: Paul Webster
The Vasectomy Doctor is a short film produced in 2018 as part of Screen Ireland’s Real Shorts documentary scheme. It tells the story of Dr. Andrew Rynne, Ireland’s first vasectomist.
THE VISIT (Iran, 14 minutes)
Dir: Azadeh Moussavi
After six months, Elaheh is finally allowed to visit her husband, who is a political prisoner. Elaheh and her little daughter Tara have one single day to prepare for this important meeting.
WADE (India, 11 minutes)
Dirs: Upamanyu Bhattacharyya, Kalp Sanghvi
In a version of Kolkata, India rendered unlivable by sea level rise, things take a dark turn when a family of climate change refugees are ambushed by a tiger on the flooded streets.
WAITING FOR HAROLD (Germany, 6 minutes)
Dir: Christoph Lauenstein
Is there something like destiny or is life just a line of coincidences? With small clay figures and a continuously moving camera Waiting for Harold explores the meaning of only small changes for the development of each character’s story.
WAVES (USA, 14 minutes)
Dir: Jane Hae Kim
Jamie, a hesitant Korean-American woman, visits home for the holidays. She hopes to catch up and make some sort of connection with her family but instead, like in the past, feels isolated and alone. Through the experience of feeling like the black sheep once again, she looks to different forms of water as a means of comfort and re-connection.
YOU’RE GOING EXTINCT (T’ES EN VOIE D’EXTINCTION) (France, 5 minutes)
Dir: Julien Crampon
Two friends are cycling on a road. They’re cruising, taking their time and absorbing the world one last time. A conversation starts.