Given just 24 hours, could you write, shoot and edit an entire short film?
T24 Project is an annual youth competition in which participants have exactly 24 hours to conceptualize, shoot and edit a film based upon a predetermined theme. The actual competition took place Friday February 10th to Saturday February 11th. Now I personally remember this 24 hours because I follow @TorYouthShorts on Twitter. The man behind @TorYouthShorts is Henry Wong, who also serves as head of the, you guessed it, Toronto Youth Short Film Festival. I can recall this day vividly largely because of how drastically and quickly the weather changed for the worse. I could only imagine then the types of struggles the participants had to go through in the cold and snow. This year's theme, as stated by Henry Wong, was to examine how cinematic narratives, genres and form can work to expose and deconstruct the myths and ideologies surrounding an urban cityscape such as Toronto. A complex theme led to both extreme differences as well as several points of contact between the various works. Of fifteen teams that registered, twelve completed a film. Of these twelve, three stood out for me personally.
Jan. 31 by "Reel Life" was directed by Andrew Millani and followed an interweaving narrative without the use of dialogue to tell its story. The interweaving narrative was a reoccurring theme within a few of the screened shorts, which I personally find interesting as I am currently studying "mind-game" films and the post-90s trend of works that subvert expectations and force the spectator to think critically about the works they are viewing. It was largely the unexpected twist that caused Jan. 31 to stand out for me. The fact that team "Reel Life" were able to seamlessly blend together multiple timelines without me noticing until the end of the short was effective, though constructively I would recommend they trim several of the shots throughout to create tighter edits. The story is more suited to an under five minute narrative.
Face the Strain by "Team Bacon" was directed by Alex Kingsmill and tells the story of a man who must reassess his life in Toronto after years abroad. The short embodied what I felt seemed to be another theme of the night - disdain for Toronto. I say this partially joking, yet I still can't get over how many shorts delved into peoples relationships with the city in a negative way. Many of the characters in the various shorts felt that Toronto was not a city that harboured positivity, with Face the Strain's protagonist Owen eventually concluding that Toronto is no longer the city he needs to live in at this point in his life. It was during Face the Strain that I began to question whether the themes dealt by each team were largely reflective of their own personal experiences with the city, and if so "why does everyone hate Toronto?" Face the Strain was the well deserved recipient of this year's jury prize, the Visual Thesis Award.
Metro by "Atrium Pictures" was directed by S. Jeysan and Adithya Addatheegala was another interweaving narrative that dealt with issues of personal anxiety of a group of multicultural individuals centered around Toronto Transit. Perhaps personal anxiety, whether founded or unfounded, was the reason so many of the characters in this year's films had a negative outlook of Toronto. The storyline that stuck out for me, largely because of the previous entries up to this point, was the story involving the white businessman's perceived racism. At one point in an underground garage, he becomes nervous and paranoid that a group of ethnic men are following him. He quickly gets to his car and finds that it will not start. His assumption is that the men will mug him, yet when they approach him it is simply to see if he needs help with his car. The "white man gets mugged" theme played a role in other shorts as well, making me wonder if any of the team members had themselves ever been mugged within the city. Whether it was creative license or not, I just found it odd. Luckily however Metro overcame this trope and several others to examine the racism and stereotypes that people in our multicultural city are sadly likely to encounter. This short was by far my favourite of the evening which was why I was excited to see it win the Audience Choice Award.
I can only imagine how both the weather and time constrictions affected the decisions made by each team, which ultimately affected the final outcome of their films. I got the sense that every team enjoyed the challenge and I am looking forward hopefully seeing more works in the future by all twelve teams in this year's T24 Project.