Just when you think that summer is over and Fantasia is long gone for another year, Small Gauge Trauma steps in to give you a little souvenir of strange fruit to remember it by. As Fantasia wraps up its 10th edition, this slick DVD of 13 award-winning shorts from the past 10 years of shorts programs, also called Small Gauge Trauma, is definitely worth the price of admission.
Montreal is the hatching ground for Fantasia, and the hometown is repped by Benoit Boucher’s Flat ‘n Fluffy – a psychedelic cartoon inspired by the demented likes of Robert Smigel on cheap acid – and Infini, by Guillaume Fortin, a beautiful-looking, devilishly detailed experimental short in which an overdosed junkie’s life becomes a spliced-together Super-8 dream. Spain, a Fantasia-favoured nation, shows up with Abuelitos, a claustrophobic psychological horror story set in a seniors’ home, and Ruta Destroy!, a demented song-and-dance rave movie about "haircuts in ashtray shape!" and coke-snorting girlfriends in platform shoes. The Latin world is also represented by two other rarities, I’ll See You in My Dreams, a lovely Portuguese zombie joint, and Gorgonas, a flashy animation from Argentinean comic-book artist Salvador Sanz. Most remarkable of these is Amor só de mãe, a gorgeous Brazilian macumba thriller co-written by a real, incarcerated macumba voodoo priest. Scary stuff!
There’s a handful of Japanese offerings, which range from the sublime (Tomoya Sato’s L’Ilya) to the totally ridiculous (Tenkwaku Naniwa’s 30-second Miss Greeny).
Nearest and dearest to my heart, however, are the U.K. offerings, which include Robert Morgan’s haunting stop-motion The Separation, which first played at Fantasia in 2003. And they’ve saved the best for last: Tea Break, Sam Walker’s riveting whack job/riff on industrialism and gore, in which a butcher in an abattoir whose slaughter subjects are living human beings still takes his sandwich breaks when the clock strikes noon. Best of all, Walker and his scriptwriter take the director’s audio commentary where no cineaste has gone before: into an improvised bluegrass reel about how they made the whole thing because they wanted to see their friends naked. This is pure gold, people.