VIFF ’21 Short Film Reviews!

The Vancouver International Film Fest is a showcase for short films and the talent behind them as much as it is for features. So let’s talk about seven short films I’ve watched at this year’s festival.

Flower Boy (dir. Anya Chirkova)

I originally saw Flower Boy this past summer as part of Canada’s Future of Film Showcase so I will echo now what I said then: this one might actually be too short! The bones of a full-length feature are here, and while the short hits some familiar story beats, there are enough creative choices in the making of it that you won’t be left wanting.

Things We Feel But Do Not Say (dir. Lauren Grant)

An all too familiar scenario for many, a young woman goes through the trauma of a miscarriage and all the grief and isolation that goes along with it. Gita Miller plays the young woman, and Aaron Ashmore her supportive (but helpless feeling) partner. The whole thing is poignant and heartwrenching, and then the last scene happens and breaks your heart entirely.

Tla-o-qui-aht Dugout Canoe (dir. Steven Davies)

The story of Joe Martin, a former logger and land defender, recounts how he came to the traditional practice of carving dugout canoes and how he pays that that knowledge forward. A compelling look at a specific cultural practice and a thoroughly interesting human being, this one will leave you wanting more.

News From Home (dir. Sara Wylie)

This film is simply constructed: it’s two recorded phone calls between a mother and daughter from opposite sides of the country during the height of the pandemic. For all its simplicity, though, both in premise and execution, anyone who lived through the last two years won’t be able to help but empathise.

Indigenous Dads (dir. Peter Brass)

Several Indigenous fathers telling stories of their fathers and their experience as fathers themselves. I don’t want to spoil any of it, but the conversation is enlightening and heartfelt and kind of wonderful.

Srikandi (dir. Andrea Nirmala Widjajanto)

A beautifully shot film with a ton of heart, this story of a young woman reconnecting with her father via the puppets he left behind for her is sweet and sincere but not that compelling. Still, gorgeously shot.

Together (dir. Albert Shin)

Apparently, there is a trend in Korea of people forming anonymous connections via the internet with the intent of meeting up and committing suicide together. In this film, a young woman and a middle-aged man do just that, and through the connection, they establish we are shown reasons to live but also how sometimes it’s just not enough. Thoughtful, compelling, and with a gorgeous last shot, this is one you won’t want to miss.


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