JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Toronto Urban Film Festival - Encounters (Programmer: Jennifer Chen) - September 17, 2009
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Toronto Urban Film Festival - Encounters

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Brief encounters; lasting memories

2 Bucks Short
Glen Cram and Ron Hier
Three and one-half stars

Wandering about the subway and city streets, no one can escape panhandlers, protestors and the apparently homeless. These encounters of a humourous kind (“Kick my ass for $1,” reads one handmade sign) offer a decidedly light touch to what are usually walk-fast-no-eye-contact situations. The toonie payoff is just that.


A Comic Book World
Palestrina McCaffrey and Andrew Trotter
Four stars
Those who like their frames filled with “Bam!” and served up on newsprint will enjoy this comic video that features a young man falling into the story and discovering his twin alter ego. More of the “you are in the storyboard” concept ought to be, er, fleshed out in an expanded version.


Bright Lights
Andres Victorero Rey
Two and one-half stars
This collage of time-lapse images darting across the screen while easily living up to the title’s basic promise, is unable to focus on a central theme or idea. Perhaps neon and natural might add to the texture and mood.


City Serendipity
Christina Tacconga
Four and one-half stars
Here’s a fresh, fanciful collection of encounters of the shyest kind. Various couples briefly share the same space but lack the courage to make the first move. Magically, their thoughts are seen rather than heard, making the phrase “if only you could read my mind” take on extra-special meaning. The largely still-frame action is at one with the nervous “hesitato” of the suddenly smitten, mute protagonists.


Jour Bruyant
Elijah Marchand
Four stars
A dramatic rendering of “love is blind.” Mackenzie Gruer is a marvel as the subway passenger who is awkwardly attracted to a sightless man who—somehowsenses her interest. The lack of soundso at odds with the literal meaning of the titleadds much to the feeling of tension.


Locker Boys
Midi Onodera
Three and one-half stars
Inspired by Ryu Murakami’s 1980 novel, Coin Locker Babies, Onodera explores the notion of lifting/leaving life’s burdens in public. The split screen (with captions below) shows two young men—both abandoned at birth by their mother. A film treatment is in the works and eagerly awaited.


Our Toronto: Nuit Blanche ’08
Daniel Sidorowicz and Alex Iliuta
Three stars
A frenetic dash though the streets of Toronto during the never-ending night is a tad crammed with content (still, so was the event) and is oddly repetitive (in the shot selection) despite the ever-changing cast of revellers. The ghouls are especially welcome—in any hue.


Tuan
Nguyen-Anh Nguyen
Four stars
Culture shock is never more challenging than for the very young. Here, love at first sight and the humiliation of being dressed for winter on a short-sleeve day is endearingly portrayed by Tuan as life begins again at a new school. Happily, (wish it were always so), his intended seems ready to accept rather than mock the displaced soul.


TXTN’
Matthew McCallum
Four stars
Internet dating comes under the spotlight as an anxious couple text, stumble (a marvellous touch: already they have something in common) and finally meet in person rather than in the electronic confines and anything-goes personas of on-line encounters. The closing smile says it all.


Water Children (an urban ballet)
Lorène Bourgeois
Three stars
Children at play on a hot, hot day. Running, dancing and darting through gushers of humanity’s most precious resource. Oh for some close-ups of the joy of being drenched and the instant relief that is fun, free and fortunate. JWR

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