2021 Fantasia Film Festival Festival Coverage

Short Films From the 2021 Fantasia Film Festival

The Last Word

In just a runtime of four minutes, ‘The Last Word’ is incredibly unique. It takes a one-sentence concept, namely the superpower of an author, and implements it effortlessly into its story. For a short film, Héloïse Giraud delivers a great performance that is simple, cute, wonderful and intriguing at the same time. Likewise, Owen Little shows great acting skills in which he keeps in a reality check for the simplicity.

Furthermore, its dialogue is also written to sound as simple and dry as possible, though this is not a negative trait as it might sound, since it dissolves so well into the setting that the writing becomes one with the visuals. Even though it is quite limited given the runtime and the concept, the scenery, namely the Parisian café where ‘The Last Word’ takes place, looks beautiful with its magical atmosphere. Overall, ‘The Last Word’ is a wonderful short film both in writing and directing and should definitely not be missed.

Death Valley

An experimental piece from the Fantasia Film Festival, ‘Death Valley’ deals with a radiologist who makes his way through outer space for the sole purpose of doing yoga in front of the sunset in the midst of a desert. The absurd concept is then taken to another level when an earthquake causes her to fall off a cliff. 

What would sound like an ending for a regular film is only the opening of Death Valley, as it is one-of-its-kind in its writing. Grace Sloan’s directing is extremely experimental, though this is not to say that the short film is amateur-ish at any point; on the contrary, there is a professional uniqueness to the directing. This goes from its retro sequences to the creative camera arrangement, combined with its stylish color palette.

What then completes ‘Death Valley’ is, in fact, its perfectly fitting music. It is confusing, poignant, also weird to put it simply, but unexpectedly, this does wonders for the short film. Granted, ‘Death Valley’ is probably too abstract and experimental to appeal to a wide audience, nevertheless, it succeeds at what it attempts to do.

Henchmen

A six minute piece directed by Alistair Quak, ‘Henchmen’ has a vague story in which two bodyguards are scared of falling victim to a man who breaks into the building and ‘takes care’ of their fellow bodyguards.

The short film is an interesting one in which it is an action comedy, and most jokes depend on the cowardice of the two bodyguards, though this is not to say that the jokes are delivered well. On the contrary, even if they are slightly entertaining, the jokes mostly fall flat.

This is, though, not much of an issue, as where ‘Henchmen’ shines is its dark atmosphere and lighting according to the dark atmosphere. Not to mention, the fighting is choreographed quite well. There might not be much essence to it, nevertheless, ‘Henchmen’ provides its audience with a fun six minutes of pastime.

The Machine

Michael Price’s ‘The Machine’ revolves around a literal machine which no one knows what purpose it serves. The machine is there though, in the company, and they don’t plan to get rid of it. The solution? A new employee, whose job is solely figuring out what the machine does.

As its premise would suggest, ‘The Machine’ is a science fiction comedy, with quite the hint of absurdity in it. The idea, as well as its implementation is quite unique. The story is furthermore complemented by convincing props and overall good cinematography. 

The ending of ‘The Machine’ falls flat in accordance to its build-up, where one would most likely expect more than delivered. Nevertheless, ‘The Machine’ promises some funny and quirky few minutes to the audience.

Andronicus

A highly unique, and just as disturbing, piece from Mark H. Rapaport, ‘Andronicus’ is a little on the longer side of short films, as it is about twenty-five minutes, though none of those moments are fillers.

The plot of ‘Andronicus’, is hard to define, at least for review purposes. It focuses on a young man and his parents during a therapy session which takes an entirely unexpected turn. 

As per its direction, the short film is incredibly tense. Not only because of the scenery, but also because it contains little music and mostly ambient sounds, which, combined with the tense dialogues, creates a piece that is quite hard to watch. This is also the strength and the weakness of ‘Andronicus’ at once, since content-wise, it is quite creative, definitely, but also very weird, pushes boundaries, and is highly disturbing.

The direction is quite fitting for the most part, apart from one zoom-in scene that pointlessly stands out, apart from that, there is little to complain about. Likewise, the actors deliver their lines quite well. Nevertheless, given its disturbing setting and plot development, ‘Andronicus’ would only be a short film for those that can really stomach its content.

Hold Me Tight

Perhaps the most eccentric short film from this year’s Fantasia Film Festival is Mélanie Robert-Tourneur’s six-minute-long animation ‘Hold Me Tight’.

First off, with sparse dialogue and a strong dependence on visuals makes the story of ‘Hold Me Tight’ a bit too vague though it wraps up nicely, thus its abstract plot development can be attributed to its distinct style.

Where ‘Hold Me Tight’ really shines, though, is it’s stylish and innovative animations. The concept is already quite good, and combined with the visualization of the concept, be it through the good-looking animations or the portrayal of the theme, which is well-designed. It consists of very interesting segments where each one of them has a different effect on the audience overall. If anyone is looking for something entirely new, ‘Hold Me Tight’ would be the short film to watch.

Summary

The short films from this year’s Fantasia Film Festival present some incredibly colorful and intriguing stories. With such a broad selection of genres and narratives, one cannot help but wonder how the selection came to be. In any case, a sincere thank you is in order for the team behind the Fantasia Film Festival.

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