In its tenth year, Toronto After Dark continued to showcase short films both homegrown and from around the world. Here were some of my favourites this year.
We were all saddened to hear about the passing of Roddy Rowdy Piper earlier this year. Thankfully, we were blessed to have this last hurrah in the form of the short film Portal To Hell where he plays a maintenance man whose building suddenly becomes a gateway to the netherworld. Piper has just as much charisma as he ever did in this, and it's impossible to watch without a big smile on your face.
Wunderkind Nate Wilson returned to After Dark with his newest short film, Fuck Buddies. It is amazing to me that at eighteen, he not only has this much of a grasp on gender relations, but also the confidence to have people act out this crazy scenario. This zany cross between rom-com and J-horror is quite remarkable in its ability to just keep getting more and more insane.
In the scares department, TAD brought forth Oliver Park's Vicious from the UK. It takes the standard woman home alone trope and throws in some of the creepiest visual set pieces I've seen in quite some time.
|Rachel Winters in Vicious|
The world of animation was not left out this year. I really dug Morgan King's short Exordium. Watching its use of rotoscoping gave me pangs of my days watching stuff like Heavy Metal and Wizards. Khoebe Magsaysay's Nihil was also a dazzling piece that reminded me of Ari Folman's The Congress and nineties video games Another World & Flashback. Both shorts are a feast for the eyes.
I was very glad to see two of my favourite short films this year - Point of View and Boniato - play the festival this year. Justin Harding and the Spanish trio of Andres Meza-Valdes, Diego Meza-Valdes & Eric Mainade should have long careers ahead of them if they keep bringing this amount of energy and intensity.
I didn't get to see everything at TAD this year, but I heard that Heir and I Am Coming To Paris To Kill You both played very well at the fest.
I also wanted to throw another one out here. This year, after getting swamped by the over eight-hundred submissions they received, the shorts programmers invited me to help pre-screen. I watched almost two hundred entries, flagging a bunch, but my favourite was this Aussie film from James Hartley called Twisted, which I have put below.