YoungCuts Film Festival: Stellar debuts

Stellar debuts

Smile: How could we not?

YoungCuts Fest is back with a new slew of up-and-comers

Both emerging films and short-format films are sorta doomed when it comes to exposure in this close-minded cinematic industry. Thank heavens for the YoungCuts Film Festival, then, which serves a glorious role as North America’s only fest dedicated exclusively to advancing the careers of young filmmakers who make shorts. This year’s edition descends upon Concordia’s Hall Theatre and De Sève Cinema from tonight through this weekend.

Every year the fest organizers select 50 short films out of thousands of international submissions and organize this festival as their platform. Those 50 shorts are shown to a wider audience than they could ever dream of getting independently, and get viewed by industry professionals too, who can actually help their creators build careers. The goods are subdivided into a 12-category competition (Best Film, Best Actress, Best Music etc.), the winners of which receive a variety of prizes, including cash, Avid software and industry internships.

Among the 50 selected films this year, Smile is definitely a 120-watt neon highlight. Californian director Chris Mais has created one of the more endearing characters in contemporary animation out of a yellow stick figure with a smiley face for a head. The story, in which animated characters exist in a live-action world, follows the little yellow dude on an adventurous quest for love with a smiley-faced balloon that pits him against a Jack Russell and an evil pirate stick figure. It’s riveting.

May I Come In? by Nathan Zimmerman would be rip-roaringly hilarious if it weren’t for its morbid theme of one man’s attempt to bypass death. The Grim Reaper’s transmogrification here from the typical hooded being to a slimy-looking businessman (terrifying nevertheless, considering he’s wielding a bloody knife!) is only one of the quirky pleasantries in this kooky doomsday tale.

Closer to home, Gabrielle Nadeau’s Québec, Québec packs just as much surrealism into its 16 minutes: The story is about Jonathan, who wakes up one morning in his rural home just outside Quebec City unable to speak French. He tries, but he can’t even say his name with a French accent! His incomprehensible transformation gets him told off by his parents and beaten up by his friends. Though a little strained in terms of some of the acting, the film’s setting on the night of the 1995 referendum gives it punch to add to the charm.

Spy these filmic visions from the ground up starting tonight, at the opening ceremonies, which include presentations and a Q&A period with directors for the $15 ticket price. Surf to" target="_blank"> or call 514-287-1062 for tix and programming info.

YoungCuts Film Festival

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