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5 Must-See International Shorts at TIFF 2014

Premiering 36 international short films this year, TIFF has outdone itself with a collection of charming, daring, and moving cinematic treasures from around the globe.  Whether you only find time to watch a few during the festival, or are lucky enough to catch them all, I’m sure you’ll be sharing my struggle to pick favourites.

That being said, five of TIFF’s 2014 international shorts stood out as particularly special films.  Coming from both emerging and established filmmakers, each touches powerfully on different aspects of the human condition, all in a few short minutes.

A Ceremony for a Friend
Kaveh Ebrahimpour | Iran

In his directorial debut, Kaveh Ebrahimpour tackles the boundaries between friendship and morality through the cautionary tale of Mansour, whose friends decide he has “gone too far”, and see only one solution – he must be hung. Discussing the event’s logistics, the group kindly considers Mansours input and requests, as he stoically awaits his demise.  Ebrahimpour’s dry, unforgiving humour is irresistible as we sit in on this absurd intervention.

TIFF Shorts A Ceremony for a Friend

Short Cuts International Programme 2
Saturday, September 6th 4:45 p.m.
| TIFF Bell Lightbox
Friday, September 12th 8:30 p.m.
| Scotiabank Theatre


The Last Day of Summer
Feike Santbergen | Netherlands

With the final days of summer looming over three friends, a bittersweet trip to the beach is abruptly cut short by an unexpected phone call. In a single shocking moment, the trio’s melancholy is intensified and lives change forever. As the adolescents desperately attempt to summon solace under an apathetic grey sky, Santbergen captures the desperate challenge of comforting one another when all feels lost. With no silver lining necessary, this film’s actors and setting are beautifully tragic.

TIFF Shorts The Last Day of Summer

Short Cuts International Programme 3
Sunday September 7th 7:00 p.m.
| Scotiabank Theatre
Saturday September 13th 11:45 a.m.
| Scotiabank Theatre

The Shove
My Sandström | Sweden

Tobias becomes his own worst enemy in this clever comedy about a bouncer at a local bar who is caught shoving an intoxicated patron and is sentenced to a punishment that fits the crime – one unexpected shove in return. My Sandström shows nothing less than directorial brilliance as viewers are brought along on Tobias’ paranoid journey, fearfully anticipating his punishment. One thing is for sure, he’ll never shove again!

TIFF Shorts The Shove

Short Cuts International Programme 4
Monday, September 8th 9:45 p.m.
| Scotiabank Theatre
Saturday, September 13th 2:30 p.m.
| Scotiabank Theatre


Hamy Ramezan, Rungano Nyoni | Denmark/Finland

Listen is a powerful demonstration of the frustrations of language barriers and cultural isolation. Directors Hamy Ramezan and Rungano Nyoni use Arabic, Danish, and English to piece together a conversation between Copenhagen authorities, a foreign woman trying to escape her abusive husband, and her translator. As the petrified woman speaks with the police, the translator misrepresents her words and she is left helpless to save her own life. Presenting the film from the perspectives of the three characters allows the viewer to effectively become immersed in the profound struggle of human interaction in the face of bureaucracy and ignorance.

TIFF Shorts Listen

Short Cuts International Programme 5
Wednesday September 10th 6:30 p.m.
| TIFF Bell Lightbox
Saturday September 13th 5:00 p.m.
| Scotiabank Theatre


Pineapple Calamari
Kasia Nalewajka | United Kingdom

Kasia Nalewajka’s colourful and mesmerizing stop-motion claymation is reason enough to watch this quirky short. The addition of a dark and slightly twisted plotline against the preschool-style backdrop will surely captivate audiences. Nalewajka molds Pineapple Calamari for us, a horse dreaming of being a racing champion. But when his owners experience a painful loss, he puts his dream on hold in order to comfort the ones he loves. This notable short addresses the fine line between self-reliance and the confusing residual effects of depression.

TIFF Shorts Pineapple Calamari

Short Cuts International Programme 5
Wednesday, September 10th 6:30 p.m.
| TIFF Bell Lightbox
Saturday September 13th 5:00pm
| Scotiabank Theatre


Whether you’re craving a good laugh, a good cry, or a leap out of your comfort zone, there is a gem awaiting you at TIFF 2014.


Kate White

Kate White works in PR in Toronto. She has a weakness for classic film and loves a good meet-cute. If you let her pick the movie, it will be When Harry Met Sally, every time.