Programming for the Festival since:
2010, but I was born ready.
Secret film love:
The Little Mermaid and Sigourney Weaver.
Should have seen it by now but haven’t:
You will kill me, but Star Wars.
Favourite television series:
The Wire and The National with Peter Mansbridge.
Your secret Toronto begins...
With the food at Marben; Cinema 3 at TIFF Bell Lightbox; The Beer Festival; the cocktails at Goods & Provisions; and the animals at Riverdale Farm.
Magali Simard is a Manager of Film Programmes at TIFF, working on New Releases, TIFF Cinematheque, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, and ongoing film series. She brings her experience in the Canadian film industry and deep knowledge of Quebec cinema to her fifth year of co-programming Short Cuts Canada. Magali sits on the programming team for the recently-announced Short Cuts International programme.
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Round and round and round she goes, where she’ll stop, nobody knows — especially for one girl who finds her routine becoming a vicious circle in this delightfully unique vision of a trip around the wheel of life.
130919 • A Portrait of Marina Abramovic
Shot in the then-empty location that was to become the Marina Abramovic Institute in Hudson, NY, 130919 is a haunting, one-shot 3D portrait of the famous artist at once physically and mystically occupying the space, set to a hypnotic track by Serbian singer Svetlana Spajic.
This feverish, suspenseful mixed-media animation follows a grief-stricken French expat in Taipei who obsessively tracks down the man he believes is responsible for killing his family.
Middle-aged and unemployed, Paul is looking to restart his life — but as he is forced to move in with his brother and take a menial job, it becomes increasingly apparent that what he’s lost can’t be regained. A sensitive and honest depiction of fading middle-class dreams.
Around is Around
Newly restored, McLaren’s 1951 short is the first stereoscopic animated film ever made. McLaren creates a visionary 3D effect with a cathode-ray oscilloscope, and the result is an elegant, mesmerizing pattern of spherical shapes evolving in space.
Aïssa, a young Congolese woman living illegally in France, must lie about her age in order to stay in French territory. Through the coldly scrutinizing lens of a medical examination, director Trehin-Lalanne probes the deeply personal implications of territorial boundaries that dictate the legality of an individual.
When an eight-year-old boy in a small Quebec town goes missing without a trace, a local woman begins to wonder if her young son might hold the key to the mystery. A tightly wound drama about social expectations and how kids and adults can be, on the inside, a million miles away from each other.
Set on a rural Saskatchewan ranch during the annual branding season, Bison follows a young man who heads to the country for a guys’ weekend, but is profoundly unsettled after he makes a disturbing discovery. Kevan Funk’s follow-up to Yellowhead is a disquieting study of the continued colonization of the West.
Boogaloo and Graham
Jamesy and Malachy are over the moon when their soft-hearted dad presents them with two baby chicks to care for. Raising their tiny charges, declaring themselves vegetarian and dreaming of running a chicken farm, the two boys are in for a shock when their parents announce that big changes are coming to the family.
In this striking animation, the aged Morlaix lives as a mad recluse in a remote lighthouse. When a disfigured sailor is sent to join him, a lifetime’s worth of pain and fear resurfaces as a storm brews over the sea.
Sally and Jack, a young couple in the city, discover a strange phenomenon in their backyard that duplicates organic life. Sally quickly envisions its wild possibilities, while Jack suffers its consequences.
A Ceremony for a Friend
Having decided that their comrade Mansour has "gone too far," a group of friends resolve to hang him. As they discuss details of the coming execution, the condemned is graciously allowed the time to make a few last requests and accept his fate. A subversive, deadpan comic attack on the absurdity of moral policing.
Two bodies are drawn together and apart, built up and broken down by the force of their movements. Dana Gingras’s wild dance film is a pop sensation of a different kind.
An exploded take on the final minutes of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, this brilliant choreography for the digital age transforms a coda into the wellspring for a new aesthetic beginning.
Megan, a stubborn teenage girl with hypersensitive hearing who is interning in an acoustics laboratory, must prove herself to her supervisor on her last day. What starts off as a psychological drama turns into a sensorial thriller, as Megan’s boundless dedication becomes potentially dangerous.
Chop My Money
Patient, Guillain and David have nothing to lose and everything to gain... so get the fuck out of their way. Director Theo Anthony’s vibrantly stylized doc follows three street kids in the Eastern Congo, who share their dreams and philosophies to the rhythm of Montreal-based musician Dirty Beaches.
A Delusion of Grandeur
Defeated in his re-election campaign for town mayor, Louis tries to find some way to escape the bitter taste of failure. Vincent Biron returns to the Festival with this deadpan take on how everyday interaction breaks down in the face of life’s biggest disappointments.
Near closing time in a Lausanne grocery store, a man loses patience with his child, which prompts a woman to intervene. Other patrons join in, and what started as an impromptu debate on proper parenting rapidly descends into a full-on ideological showdown. Discipline is a wild statement on the fragility of the social contract.
Following an assault on a young woman, we track her attacker through the streets of Paris. Quietly yet with a growing sense of fear, Frieda Luk’s film takes us into unknown territory.
Forced to care for her catatonic lover Malcolm after a secret quantum experiment goes awry, Erin is determined to uncover the cause of his condition — even at the risk of her own life. This riveting contemporary science-fiction story, from one of the writers of Orphan Black, bridges alternate dimensions as it explores how far a person will go for someone they love.
everything & everything & everything
In this visionary statement about the meteoric rise and catastrophic falls of consumer culture, the oppressively vapid life of sad sack Morgan (Primer and Upstream Color director Shane Carruth) takes a sudden turn when he discovers a mystical blue pyramid that produces doorknobs. Realizing the profit potential of this tireless high producer, Morgan takes it to the next level — and then some.
Eye & Mermaid
Burning with curiosity about where her father finds the stunning black pearls he regularly brings back from his fishing trips, young Hanan trails the men when they set out to sea. A darkly lyrical tale that teaches that those things we most cherish — beauty, freedom, riches — may come at a terrible cost.
When his father is electrocuted while illegally stripping copper in an abandoned factory, his young son must attempt to deal with the aftermath by himself. As the boy struggles to bring his father’s body out into the light of day, the factory’s foreboding environs double as both physical gauntlet and symbolic vision of the boy’s uncertain future.
Following Water in director Raha Shirazi’s short-film trilogy, Fire offers a study in light as it follows village men who slowly congregate and pass torches to share the flame. Celebrating a ritual from Iranian culture, this beautifully composed film draws power from its illuminating landscapes and the elemental brilliance of its subject.
After being subjected to a ritual circumcision intended to usher him into manhood and purge him of any homosexual desires, a young Xhosa teenager is painted white as a goat and isolated in a remote mountain hut, where his desperate desire to escape grows as his pain and panic mount.
Fabian’s awkward adolescence is made all the worse by his domineering mother, a no-nonsense veterinarian who castrates male dogs as soon as possible to "calm their urges" — and when fun-loving Felicia visits the clinic, Fabian gets his first peek at what those "urges" might be like. A twisted coming-of-age tale about being your true self.
As a Jew growing up in Baltimore, David Paul’s vision of Germany (and Germans) was shaped by the stories of his Holocaust-survivor mother; later in life, he reflects on whether it is possible to overcome this history. Simple in aesthetics yet potent in philosophical introspection, this animated documentary poses difficult questions about the human capacity to forgive unimaginably evil acts.
Rendered mute by his autism, Gary spends his days racing remote control boats with his little brother — which creates stress for the boys' father, a single parent who just wants his eldest son to get a job. However, Gary’s condition conceals a powerful gift that goes beyond words. Connor Gaston combines humour and the supernatural in this offbeat comedy.
Billy, a middle-aged disabled man, is a classical music lover and well-liked Value Village worker who longs for intimacy. Director Martin Edralin creates an honest portrait of a quest for human connection.
I'm in the Corner with the Bluebells
Amid the cheery chaos of a family gathering, Julie, happily married and a loving mother, meets her half-brother for the first time. Julie’s unexpected feelings towards him are surprisingly not altogether unwelcome — a predicament not lost on anyone present.
In this delightful tale of desire and dogged determination, the rare arrival of an ice-cream man in his small village spurs eleven-year-old Rojhat into action: dodging his angry mother at every turn, Rojhat is set on securing the coveted sweet treat no matter what.
An Immortal Man
Baseball legend Ted Williams lived his life in the public eye, but his story took a strange turn upon his death and subsequent preservation (contrary to the instructions in his will) via cryostasis. In this fascinating investigative documentary, filmmakers Josh Koury and Myles Kane uncover the familial machinations that resulted in Williams being quite literally frozen in time.
Hand-crafted, stop-motion figures come to life in this dreamlike tale inspired by Native mythology, in which a confined woman is liberated by a grandmother spider while opaque memories are projected in an effort to restore her spirit as life nears its end.
In the dark just before the dawn, a woman has died in her small suburban home, her death caused by some mysterious, intangible entity looming over the town — a presence that has only just begun to make itself felt. A chilling, brilliantly controlled evocation of the inexplicable forces that have the power to destroy our lives.
Kajutaijuq: The Spirit That Comes
In this combination of folk tale and thriller, a hunter in the Arctic wilderness tries to live by the traditional survival skills passed on to him by his grandfather — but these lessons are difficult for a modern man to apply, and the price of failure can be costly. Scott Brachmayer’s Kajutaijuq raises provocative questions about tradition, knowledge, and adaptation.
Inspired by the isolated beauty of tropical islands and the explosive allure of ocean volcanoes, the stunning new animated short from Disney Pixar is a musical love story that takes place over millions of years.
The Last Day of Summer
The inherent melancholia of the end of summer is suddenly intensified for three teenage friends on a quiet beach when one of them receives a phone call with tragic news. Reeling from shock and realizing that the future has changed irrevocably, the trio desperately seeks some kind of solace beneath the expansive, uncaring canopy of the overcast skies.
A man believes his roommate jacked off on him during the night, even though the accused vehemently denies it. A painstakingly logical debate that ensues is absurd, hilarious, and all too believable.
Devastated by the death of his newborn son, a Lebanese man living in an adopted country is challenged by his mother’s request that he perform Islamic pre-burial rituals in the confines of a hospital. Avoiding melodrama, Yassmina Karajah delivers a deeply affecting story about culture, loss, and devotion.
"Almost everything disappeared. How did it happen?" a man wonders on his deathbed. Elizabeth Lazebnik’s patient, poetic and supremely controlled film sensitively addresses the terrible thought that our pasts, our accomplishments, our families, and friends can be effaced by encroaching sickness and impending death.
A foreign woman in a burqa brings her young son to a Copenhagen police station to file a complaint against her abusive husband, but the translator assigned to her seems unwilling to convey the true meaning of her words. A tense, diamond-hard film about cultural isolation and bureaucratic ignorance.
Luk'Luk'I : Mother
A full-time mother and part-time sex worker goes missing on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside during the 2010 Winter Olympics. This narratively sophisticated and righteously angry commentary on social neglect is set against a backdrop of glib patriotism.
Me and My Moulton
A seven-year-old girl longs for a bicycle so that she can be more like the other kids in her Norwegian town, but her embarrassingly unconventional, modernist architect parents see things differently. Academy Award-winning animator Torill Kove weaves memory and fantasy together in this droll and charming look at the pain of childhood alienation.
The gorgeously realized Midfield profiles an ordinary workday in the life of a stevedore, who executes his job with surprising grace and simplicity — but when Sunday comes, an altogether different man emerges.
Nostalgically emulating home-movie and vintage nature-doc aesthetics, this digital animation traces the journey of a whale-like herd as they wander through towns, fields and forests seeking refuge in the sea. Whimsical and technically brilliant, Migration imagines a species that you’ll wish were real.
Mynarski Death Plummet
The story of Winnipeg WWII hero Andrew Mynarski is related stunningly in this explosive, expressionistic and psychedelic envisioning of his final moments, paying homage to our collective past while transforming fact into brilliant celluloid fantasia.
A hauntingly beautiful documentary that follows female survivors of acid attacks, who bravely defy the trauma and fear that will always accompany them.
We commemorate the centenary of the birth of animation legend Norman McLaren with this remarkable 1951 animated adaptation of our national anthem, a 3D trip across Canada from coast to coast created by McLaren’s close collaborator Evelyn Lambart.
Rooked into taking over her niece's English lessons, Setsuko, a fifty-five-year-old "office lady" in Tokyo, is at first taken aback by the blond wig and new identity as "Lucy" the unconventional teacher gives her — but being "Lucy" awakens desires Setsuko never knew she had. Oh Lucy! is a charmingly absurdist comedy about identity, loneliness, and the art of finding yourself.
An elderly woman looking for one more (or last) intimate encounter reaches out to young man trying, in a unique way, to break out of his loneliness. Robin Aubert achieves an observational detachment that lets his characters soar to surprising heights.
Haitian farmer Alfred Avril is one of the last remaining masters of tire machèt, the indigenous martial art created by Haitian slaves to defeat Napoleon’s armies. Teaching about the practical and spiritual value of the machete — which is both a weapon and a farmer’s key to survival — Avril provides a bridge between his country’s traditional past and its troubled present.
In this dark fable rendered in golden, sun-kissed images, a young diver on the coast of the Adriatic in southern Italy finds another kind of natural wonder amidst the bounty of the sea: a beautiful woman. As his strange romantic obsession grows, he withdraws ever further into silence.
In this quirky, colourful stop-motion story, Pineapple Calamari dreams of being a horse-racing champion — but when tragedy befalls the two inseparable women who share his love of riding, he finds his race to the roses abruptly halted.
Playing with Balls
As tempers (and temperatures) rise between a couple on the tennis court, a group of older lesbians become intrigued with the goings-on, and one of them is inspired to take the opportunity to act on her desires and escape her daily routine — but the result may not be the blissful encounter she anticipated.
Severed feet in running shoes have been washing up on the shores of Prince Edward Island — which, unfortunately for Arthur Zimmer, has resulted in the devaluing of his late father’s seaside house. Anxious to sell it and move on, he is now faced with the vultures ready to snap it up at a lower price. With his carefully constructed script and aptitude for slow-building tension, Grayson Moore proves himself a welcome new cinematic voice.
Having witnessed his sister Sahar’s rebellious attitude towards their conservative parents, obedient young Nadim ignores her pleas to let her into the house when she returns late in the night — which triggers a chain of events leading to a police interrogation days later. This is a riveting and revealing domestic drama that foregoes moralizing as it examines a pressing contemporary issue.
A group of friends retreat to a cottage for a weekend in the woods, and tensions rise when the presence of a newcomer — the black, much younger boyfriend of one of the group — elicits unthinking acts of deprecation. Director Marie-Ève Juste courageously addresses issues of social performance and the politics of difference.
In a single, black-and-white 360-degree shot that traverses seven boats surrounding a man lost at sea, director Hlynur Pálmason crafts a simple yet potent statement about mankind’s struggle to survive.
It’s an eye for an eye in this absurdist comedy in which Tobias, a bouncer at a local bar, is caught shoving a drunk and disorderly patron and is sentenced to a retributive shove in return, at an unspecified date and time. Paranoia steadily sets in as Tobias awaits his punishment, fearful expectation haunting his every moment.
A Single Body
This beautiful, tightly constructed portrait of male friendship is set against the raucous and grisly backdrop of an abattoir, where best friends and skilled workers David and Wani diligently ply their trade as they dream of opening their own butchery.
A Single Life
Life sucks and then you die? Upon playing a mysterious vinyl record, Pia begins to travel through space and time, experiencing her own reality at different ages and stages in this vibrantly animated witty ditty showcasing a life in (one) song.
In economically depressed Budapest, to avoid being evicted from your home means you need to evict others — and Tibi, a hardcore bouncer with a conscience, soon finds that he must turn against his own to save himself. Skinner takes a raw, incisive look at how the global financial crisis transforms the life of the disenfranchised into brutal gladiatorial combat.
While spending a boring summer on Lake Superior, Adam falls in with two local boys and begins to fill his days attempting ever more hazardous stunts — but the arrival of pretty young Taylor could lead to the trio’s riskiest dare yet. Andrew Cividino captures boyhood growing pains with bracing authenticity.
A Spark at Darkest Night
In a park in the dead of night, magnetism and connection bring light into the darkness. An illuminating look at the power of attraction and the gift of sacrifice: giving so that one may be reignited twice as bright.
In this psychological thriller with a sci-fi twist, a young couple takes a break from a road trip to walk through a wintery forest — where it soon becomes clear that their relationship is based on dangerously unbalanced power dynamics.
Working in a hospital with permanently disabled patients, a male nurse is asked to perform duties that challenge his personal morals. With sensitivity, honesty and remarkable performances, Take Me reveals the complex physicality of relationships and the challenges of forced intimacy between strangers.
Tatuapé Mahal Tower
A wildly entertaining existential drama set in a scale-model-sized São Paulo, this clever animated short follows Javier Juarez Garcia, who abandons his tiresome job with a residential tower developer and makes a life-changing decision — but even the new possibilities he discovers are not enough to wipe out his desire for revenge against those who have betrayed him.
A Tomb with a View
Elevating its departed occupants considerably closer to heaven rather than entombing them six feet under, Memorial Necropole Ecumenica is the world’s tallest cemetery. Towering proudly alongside its fellow skyscrapers in the expansive São Paulo skyline, this one-of-a-kind mausoleum and its equally unique owner celebrate the high life in the afterlife.
Macau’s colour-saturated late-night landscape of dark streets, back alleys, and neon lights is tailor-made for trouble, as a desperate tricycle driver discovers in this cautionary tale of need and greed.
A young Iranian man struggles to fit into a new culture, his poverty and isolation leading him to imagine himself as an insect, absorbing the world through its senses. Inspired by Rawi Hage’s bestselling novel Cockroach, this visceral tale of alienation and delirium creates a magical-realist aesthetic that is both gritty and poetic.
With two actors and no sets, master filmmaker Claire Denis traces the arc of a strained relationship, with a focus on race and language. In this fraught arena, words omitted can be as potentially devastating as words used, and what is not seen can have greater political consequences than what is.
The Israeli Defense Forces execute a midnight raid on a refugee camp known as The Warren in this high-stakes thriller about conflict, escalation, and the terrifying moments between life and death.
The Weatherman and the Shadowboxer
In this bold blend of live action and digital animation, the lives of two brothers with conflicting memories of their common past take very different directions. Randall Okita bends the boundaries of cinema with his spellbinding, seamlessly rendered visuals.
What Doesn't Kill You
As their car burns on a remote road in the aftermath of a horrific accident, three bullied high school boys discover that they possess unique abilities. An inventive premise and well-honed script comes to life through the compelling performances of the film’s young leads.
A young actress attempts to lead a normal life after starring in a successful Canadian TV series, but her past fame makes for some awkward and self-conscious first dates. Lauren Collins (Degrassi: The Next Generation) showcases her comedic talent in this self-reflexive, tongue-in-cheek look at celebrity and neuroses in the age of social networking.
Short Cuts Canada Programme 1
Headlined by newly restored animations by the great Norman McLaren, this programme muses on the many facets of fame with tales of war heroes, TV stars and local mayors.
Short Cuts Canada Programme 2
From the most intimate spheres to the wide open spaces, this programme explores our physical connections to our environment and to each other.
Short Cuts Canada Programme 3
From animation to observational realism, these films employ experimental visual approaches to explore the fragility of family connections.
Short Cuts Canada Programme 4
Working in a wide variety of modes and genres — from documentary to animation, science fiction and folktales — the filmmakers in this programme address questions of culture and generational clashes, death and rebirth.
Short Cuts Canada Programme 5
From a wildly reimagined recounting of Noah’s Ark to a chilling tale of invisible intruders, these shorts explore the darker sides of our existence.
Short Cuts Canada Programme 6
Self-definition is the thematic thread of these shorts, which depict protagonists who are forced to imagine and choose between the many roads that their lives could take.
Short Cuts International Programme 1
An accident at the supermarket turns into an international event; a day on the job has life-altering repercussions; an unexpected connection leaves an electric impression... Serendipity, circumstance and dumb luck combine in unforgettable ways in this package of stellar international short films.
Short Cuts International Programme 2
From the simple pleasures of an ice cream to the realization of our deepest and darkest wishes, desire has many names and faces in this shorts programme.
Short Cuts International Programme 3
As these six cautionary tales illustrate, the words we use and the actions we take in our daily lives can have profound consequences.
Short Cuts International Programme 4
Resilience, faith and humour prove to be powerful weapons in these stories of systemic injustice, retribution, and social and cultural isolation.
Short Cuts International Programme 5
Innovative animations, creative uses of 3D and stunning cinematography distinguish this programme, offering a snapshot of some of the best cinematic storytelling talent from around the world.