Guest Blogger | Toronto Youth Shorts Festival Director, Henry Wong
This year is the 7th edition of Toronto Youth Shorts and the programming process is one of the most rigorous I have ever encountered. With a major increase in submission entries, it was incredibly difficult to narrow everything down to just 30 films. That being said, Toronto Youth Shorts is proud to present a solid lineup that features homegrown drama, documentary, and animation by those in the Greater Toronto and Southern Ontario area.
This year’s festival will feature two lineups: What We Were, What We Will Be and Who We Are.
What We Were, What We Will Be is for those saying goodbye to friends, family, lovers, or even their own autonomy while embracing change and the development of identity. Many films depict the often painful process of letting go but for those shedding the baggage of inhibition, addiction or dogma, there is a prospect and reason for hope. In these films, loss opens the door to perspective, humility, maturity, and friendship. With 17 short films, this lineup is a cultural melting pot, featuring Kevin Saychareun’s Korean fantasy-horror short, Footprints and Guillermo de la Rosa’s The Crocodile and Capybara, a Mexican family drama on brotherly love. Even the animated selections such as MINE! directed by Patricia Lestari tap into many of the same themes, capturing universal concepts like greed and loneliness through visual images and no dialogue.
Who We Are showcases courageous women that will empower and inspire you, centering on female characters with depth, wit, and intelligence, and focusing on independent women who make life-changing decisions to escape their unfavorable environments. In The Weeds by Joy Webster and Phoebe’s Declassified Guide to Unwanted Pickups by Rebecca Gao make the use of drama and comedy to provide insight into the timeless issues of non-consent and unwanted attention that women continue to face. A New Reflection by Pauline Beal and Being Tessa by Erin Harris are two documentaries that follow young women born with physical differences who do not succumb to the pressures of female perfection by pursuing their dreams. Adam Goldhammer’s Jesse features Degrassi star Jake Epstein in a story of a young woman struggling to maintain balance between her commitments to her autistic brother and her personal goals. Dan Laera’s Pretty Dangerous is a rare look at women and sports, featuring an in-depth conversation about the life of Canadian wrestler Seleziya “Sparx” Echo.
Between the two programs, there is also award-winning content. Annie Amaya’s Tanabata is a beautiful animation that won at the Toronto Student Film Festival. Another animated piece is the hauntingly memorable Hunger’s Core that won at the ZOOM Film Festival. Alicia Harris’ Fatherhood won the Royal Reel Award at the Canada International Film Festival. Two-time Toronto Youth Shorts award winner, Kristina Mileska, brings us her latest film, Asteroid.
Toronto Youth Shorts plays at Innis College on Saturday, August 8. Tickets are available at www.torontoyouthshorts.ca
Toronto Youth Shorts trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNtjJns78TQ