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  • Brandon MacMurray

Ten Favourites from Regard Festival



Regard Festival has quickly become one of our favourite short film festivals to partake in. It has gotten a reputation of being a festival that gives us a good look at some of the early Oscar shortlist contenders. Last year the festival brought us eventual Oscar shortlisted shorts An Avocado Pit, Boom, Eeva, Invincible, Letter to a Pig  and Oasis and many more eventually qualified shorts. After spending the last two weeks taking in this years selections we expect no different. It was hard to decide just one or two to talk about so we have each selected a few shorts to talk about and put together 10 favourites seen at the festival. In general we are really excited about all of these shorts, but found in particular that Miyu has an extremely strong slate this year. In no particular order, check out reviews of 10 favourites from the fest and a few others we really enjoyed in the honourable mentions.


On The 8th Day (Au 8ème Jour), dir. Alicia Massez, Théo Duhautois, Agathe Sénéchal, Elise Debruyne, Flavie Carin



The Biblical creation story tells of how God created the world in 7 days. On The 8th Day acts as a cautionary tale warning of the impending possibility of destruction by humans on the day after. It is truly shocking to learn that this is a student film as it has some of the most impressive and unique animation I have ever seen from a short film.


In On The 8th Day we see a vibrant world of landscapes and animals, stitched and woven together with fabric-like animation. Bright yarn acts as the lifeblood of this world flowing as water flows, across the earth, into each of the animals and into the beating soul of the planet. It is used as both a metaphorical and physical connection of the environment to the creatures that live in it. 



Dark yarn (fittingly the approximate same colour as the humans in this short) acts as a pollutant pouring out from the cities. As the swelling score (beautifully composed by Adèle Chavy) builds and crescendos, the dark yarn consumes the bright colourful yarn until everything snaps, quite literally. 


On The 8th Day is a spectacular feat of animation that tells an important story of the harmony humans have to achieve with the earth if we are wanting to survive. It is qualified for the 97th Academy Awards after its win for Best Animated Short at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. 


-Brandon MacMurray


The Miracle, dir. Nienke Deutz



The Miracle, a place where the sun always shines, with endless opportunities to relax and food in abundance.


In ‘The Miracle’ we follow Irma who is visiting the resort alone. After a late check in she quickly realizes that this resort seems to cater more towards couples and families. Trying to stay undeterred she dives head first into all that the luxury hotel has to offer. But gnawing at the back of her head constantly is the reminder of what she does not have.


Using see through people as a narrative tool this short depicts the many pregnant couples surrounding Irma at the resort by showing their babies through their clear stomachs - something that Irma also seems to be able to pick up on either visually or subconsciously. This clearly bothers her, although it is never entirely clear as to why that is the case.


Whether you feel like a child is missing from your life, you have had and lost a child or just in general feel affected by the societal expectations to form a family and have children; this short hits that nerve and displays the uneasy feeling of these pressures front and center. Even on a gorgeous holiday, with abundance of food, activities, relaxation and sunshine it consumes Irma, and we collectively come to terms with the fact that these feelings are not something we can run from, the only way out is reconciliation.


-Robin Hellgren


Oyu, dir. Atsushi Hirai

 


Satoshi visits a small town onsen (hot-spring community bath) in Atsushi Hirai’s lovely and enigmatic short film Oyu. He arrives in Toyama on New Year’s Eve to pick up something that was left at the onsen, but when he finds an old ticket to get admission to the baths, he uses this stroke of favor as an invitation for self-reflection. The lonely and quiet Satoshi is played by Okihiko Yoshizawa, in an understated and open-hearted performance that remains largely interior but doesn’t waste a word or glance in bringing the deceptively emotional Oyu to its poignant final shots. 

 

Every shot in the onsen is a steamy fantasy, and cinematographer Benoit Pain makes the baths feel hazy and shrouded, like a dream or a memory from a distant past. The scenes of bathing are almost like a sort of big-screen ASMR, as voices chatter, water drips and splashes, and wet footsteps paddle from side to side. Satoshi begins the bathing ritual as if he is trying to wash something away, but what is he trying to forget? In an intimate look at masculinity that is rarely seen in movies, the men in the baths idly talk about their wives and families. The unhurried examination of loneliness and leisurely scenes of male bonding bring to mind the films of Tsai Ming-liang, especially his own journey to Japan in No No Sleep.

 

Many of the voices are onscreen, as if the audience, along with Satoshi, are eavesdropping on such intimate conversations. These men fully nude in the baths, but it is their stories that are more revealing, these overheard conversations about love and loss and family bringing a figurative warmth of community to the literal warmth of the hot springs. Satoshi’s story does gently reveal itself in the last few minutes of Oyu, but the real pleasures of the film are the bathing scenes, which without becoming voyeuristic, reveal an intimacy rarely seen on film.


-Joshua Hunt


Boi de Conchas, dir. by Daniel Barosa




In Ubatuba, on the northern coast of São Paulo, Brazil; there is a legend among the locals that there was an ox with a shell-covered format on its forehead. The ox was called Ratambufe. It had the dream of meeting the ocean and it was promised by its owner, a salesman, who wanted to take Ratambufe to another city and send it to the slaughterhouse. But while traveling to the other town, the ox smelled the salted water and ran away to the ocean, disappearing forever. However, every time it hears the sound of a cowbell made of shells, also called Ratambufe, it will appear again and dance for it.  


Based on this local premise, the film directed by the Brazilian director Daniel Barosa uses urban history to set up its storyline. The short narrates the story of Rayane, a girl from a fishermen's family, who is mourning her sister Raissa’s loss, and dreams of becoming a musician. However, she notices the number of oxen that appear on the beach suddenly, as the increase of young people's disappearances in the village, and questions if the ox she sees often could be her sister. 


Combining elements of magic realism, such as the aspects of absurdity and day-to-day life, while also analyzing the life of the young citizens of that village, the film thrives in constructing its whole universe in a few minutes and explaining the character’s inner dramas. The viewer promptly understands the dynamic present there and questions themselves about all the disappearances and the connection with the local legend. It’s very effective writing and directing to achieve its goal of setting the tone of the whole film proposition. 


Boi de Conchas uses a local legend to construct a magic realistic story, narrating the reality of young people and approaching the pains of grief. The film premiered at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival and it is currently on several short festival selections. Keep an eye on it.


-Pedro Lima


Recordings of a Weather Camera, dir. Bernhard Wenger



Recordings of a Weather Camera is just as the title suggests. Told from the perspective of panning weather cameras in the Austrian Alps, this short shows four different stories playing out within a ski hill milieu. 


In a society where the male gaze frequently dissects women, the weather camera fittingly follows, gazes back at and dissects the misogyny and toxic masculinity that threads through four different but not all that dissimilar scenarios.


Scenario 1: Two women stuck on a stopped ski lift are cat-called by the men behind them. As the woman unzips her jacket to add on a scarf to her layers a man shouts “Yeah, keep going,” and attempts to justify the comment by saying “I was just making you a compliment!”


Scenario 2: A chalet porch acts as a place of retreat from the snow storm to have some drinks. Two men see an intoxicated woman as an easy target and one goes in to make a move. 

“Holy cow, she’s hammered!” 

“Come on, you’ll definitely score, warm her up a little…”


Scenario 3: A father is all-too confident they are at the correct spot uphill of a ski jump (they very well may not be) is all-too-eager to throw his wife under the bus for being too cautious when his son shows hesitation or questions him. 

“Just because Mom said that, doesn’t mean you have to be afraid. Mom is always so careful, she was even against getting the trampoline, remember?”. 

“We’re just braver than Mom. You’re brave aren’t you?”


Scenario 4: A man hits a woman with his ski pole after a near-collision and goes on to aggressively gaslight her into believing it was an accident. When another male bystander tries to play hero and act in the woman’s interest, it’s clear that he too may not have honest intentions.


Although fictional, Recordings of a Weather Camera feels incredibly real. All four of the stories are live action however, the pure observational nature of the weather cameras makes this short feel like a documentary. This is also a testament to the excellent writing in the screenplay by Alexandra Brodski and Bernhard Wenger. The sound editing and design by Ines Vorreiter is also top notch, melding the blustery cold winds of the mountain and the coversations you overhear. The actors in no way play to the camera, creating a realistic picture of occurrences that are unfortunately way too common.


-Brandon MacMurray


Yuck! (Beurk!) dir. Loïc Espuche



In ‘Yuck!’ we follow Léo who together with his two siblings and parents are on vacation at a camping site. The three of them have made friends with other kids from a couple of families nearby and together they spend their summer playing in the sun.Léo lives in a world much like our own, with one key difference - when people are about to kiss, their lips become all pink and shiny. Naturally the kids find this absolutely appalling, and they run around the campsite looking at couples kissing letting out a collective titular Yuck! just as they are about to do so. Kissing on the mouth? With tongue?! Absolutely gross, no way!


However, Léo has noticed a shift in himself. His lips have started glistening, maybe even a bit more so when he is close to a particular friend in the group. Trying to navigate these new feelings and the peer pressure is no easy feat, and he ends up in some sticky situations. Will he ever get to give his first kiss a try?


The film perfectly captures the magic, fear and excitement that many feel during these formative years. You are trying to find yourself, your place amongst your peers and your place in this world at a time where your days consist of cycling around in the sun and waterslides. The atmosphere throughout this film is truly palpable, and you are left with a warm heart and blushed cheeks.


-Robin Hellgren


Goddess of Speed, dir. Frédéric Moffet



 In Andy Warhol’s filmography is listed a 1963 work titled Dance Movie (or sometimes Rollerskate), but no film with this title has ever been projected, or even found in any of Warhol’s archives. The film, as described by contemporaries of Warhol’s who have (apparently) seen it showed dancer Fred Herko gliding on a single rollerskate and would have been shot not long before Herko’s death by falling from an open window in the middle of a dance routine. Goddess of Speed, directed by Frédéric Moffet, is a poetic attempt to recreate the lost film based on these descriptions. 

 

Dancer Stevie Cisneros Hanley is a graceful stand-in for Herko, and his elegant dancing hides the pain that Herko must have felt as he used crystal meth to push his body to dance the way he wanted. Hanley is shown rollerskating in split screen, a gambit borrowed from Warhol’s most famous film work Chelsea Girls. As in that film, sometimes both sides of the screen show different moments of the same picture, sometimes one side informs the other, and sometimes they are separate experiences—one side showing Hanley gliding by, the other showing the starkness of the surrounding city.

 

Recreations and copies were important to Warhol’s work, such as the series of portraits of Marilyn Monroe he created over and over. Goddess of Speed, likewise, is an attempt to contextualize one work of art in another. Lines of text from The Films of Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné 1963-1965, and from Recollection of My Life as a Woman, by poet and Herko’s best friend Diane di Prima, cross the screen like they have cut out of a book and pasted onto the film. The music of Mozart and Maria Callas soundtrack the black and white fantasy of the retro-styled dancing, but then harsh city sounds and a jarring switch to colour film bring us crashingly back to the present, a reminder of those we have lost. 


-Joshua Hunt


Wander to Wonder, dir. Nina Gantz



Wander to Wonder kicks off with the opening theme song of an 80’s children’s tv show by the same title. In this opener we are introduced to the show creator, Uncle Gilly and three miniature humans in brown furry costumers: Mary, Billybud and Fumbleton (voiced by Amanda Lawrence, Terence Dunn and Toby Jones).


Within the first couple of minutes of this short it is revealed that Uncle Gilly has died on the set, leaving the three miniature stars to their own devices. Wander to Wonder chronicles the eerie yet humorous descent of Mary, Billybud and Fumbleton into insanity as they attempt to survive alongside Uncle Gilly’s decaying body and their now fly-infested set. Each minute becomes more and more wild as they move through the different stages of grief. From denial as they attempt to carry-on normally and film the show on their own, to anger when the last gherkin goes missing, and depression as Mary sadly watches one of her favourite moments from the show on repeat.


“I’m sorry for the state of things, it’s all a little bit messy.” 


This quote by Mary encapsulates the acceptance of the situation they have found themselves in. Wander to Wonder reaches its peak at the short’s conclusion as everything spirals out of control. It is chaotic in the best way possible.  


Wander to Wonder is a delightful blend of live action and stop motion animation. The production design really stands out by tying the miniature characters and their small set together with the larger room they are trapped in. Wander to Wonder is qualified for the 97th Academy Awards after winning the Grand Prize at Anima Festival and the International Grand Prize at Tampere Film Festival.


-Brandon MacMurray


My Name is Edgar and I Have a Cow, dir. Filip Diviak



Edgar is a man of simple means. He lives an ordinary life keeping his mother company, caring for a houseplant and saving up to buy his dream car one day. He eats his meat and carrots every day then sits down to watch TV. While others might deem this mundane, he is simply content and despite a lack of strong external displays of emotion he seems happy.


One day he decides to go on a tourist visit to a nearby slaughterhouse. During the tour Edgar gets to witness the birth of a calf. The tour guide is quick to point out that the newborn will become schnitzel, a fact that he simply cannot accept. This marks the start of a completely new chapter in Edgar’s life.


He decides to adopt the newborn cow and the two move in together in his apartment. The meat and carrots in his diet is swapped for a much leaner menu of just carrots, which he happily shares with his new room mate. But it quickly becomes apparent that keeping a cow in a small flat is no simple task. The cow keeps growing and growing and tripping over things wreaking havoc amongst the small collection of belongings Edgar keeps in his flat. With the TV, the houseplant, his savings and frankly any room to move around in his home gone, Edgar is forced to take action.


This short is a warm and playful nod to the anxious feelings many of us have today in relation to the environment, animals and our dietary preferences. Through a couple of surprising twists and turns it tells a story that feels completely unrelatable, yet somehow familiar in its core ideas and values. You can’t help but feel for Edgar who is simply doing the best he can, and aren’t we all really?


-Robin Hellgren


The Electric Kiss, dir. Rainer Kohlberger

 


“You need a little bit of disorder for your brain to work effectively.” Rainer Kohlberger may have taken this line from his film The Electric Kiss literally as the iconoclastic avant-garde artist packs the abstract 18-minute film with too many ideas and images to count. In a detour from Kohlberger’s purely structuralist films, The Electric Kiss presents something roughly resembling a plot—or at least recognizable humans and the suggestion of a story that they are a part of. As always with Kohlberger, though, The Electric Kiss is much more interested in moods and textures. 

 

The opening minutes look straight out of a 1980s technology video, with the colours smeared like the holographic waves of lenticular photos, or the tracking lines that wobble across an old VHS tape. Kohlberger has always been on the cutting edge of technology in his films, but here he looks to the past in integrating found footage of obscure fantasy films into The Electric Kiss. His trademark visual noise is achieved by feeding this footage through self-trained machine learning algorithms until it is all but unrecognizable. Two people in VR headsets are shown; is he controlling her? The camera moves closer and closer as the moiré patterns begin to make the picture more and more abstract. Subtitles convey unspoken technobabble about bodies brain waves, straight out of Cronenberg body horror film (“feelings are no longer the best algorithms in the world” is the new “surgery is the new sex”) as the images continue to flicker and degrade.

 

Soon The Electric Kiss returns to Kohlberger’s more expected exploration of light and colour.

Lasers, blinking eyes, and beams of light flash across the screen, as well as bodies both celestial and human. Eventually any recognizable characters or forms become only textures, which still manage to evoke the eras Kohlberger seemed intent on exploring—even if we can’t see them, we feel retro video games, carnival rides, lava lamps. Subtitled science fiction-flavoured non-sequiturs (“the average human body contains somewhere between 8 and 50 ghosts”) and the overwhelming soundscape created by Jung An Tagen make The Electric Kiss an experience unlike any other this year.


-Joshua Hunt


Honourable Mentions: Eight Other Shorts We Loved!

Summer 2000, dirs. Virginie Nolin, Laurence Olivier

Mothers & Monsters, dir. Édith Jorisch

Cross My Heart and Hope To Die, dir. Sam Manacsa A Crab in the Pool, dirs. Alexandra Myotte, Jean-Sébastien Hamel

Extras, dir. Marc-Antoine Lemire Gaby's Hills, dir. Zoé Pelchat-Ouellet

Lick a Wound, dir. Nathan Ghali

I Can See the Sun But I Can't Feel It Yet, dir. Joseph Wilson

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ShortStick

The short end of the stick: The inferior part, the worse side of an unequal deal

When it comes to cinema and the Oscars it always feels like short films and getting the short end of the stick. Lack of coverage, lack of predictions from experts and an afterthought in the conversation. With this site we hope to change that, highlighting shorts that stick with you, predictions, and news on what is happening in the world of shorts. 

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