Our correspondent in Canada, Swati Sharan, brings us some interesting reviews straight from the Toronto International Film Festival 2018.


The Sweet Requiem


Directed by: Ritu Sarin, Tenzing Sonam. Starring: Tenzin Dolker, Jampa Kalsang

Dolkar (Tenzin Dolker) is a Tibetan refugee who migrated to India as a kid. The harrowing experiences she faced when doing so begins to haunt her when a figure (Jampa Kalsang) from her past comes to Delhi. Will Dolkar ever be able to come to terms with her past?

The film is a parallel play of the past and present. Many semblances of real life can be felt here. The Tibetan area in Delhi is very realistically portrayed alongside the emotional struggles that a refugee faces. This includes a great lack of closure when being separated from family members in the bid to escape. The film shows a complex dimension with regards to the Tibetan issue, which we rarely hear about: the issue of Tibetans who cooperate with an oppressive establishment to keep everyone down. The film also addresses how some may co-opt to do so out of personal compulsion. With its visuals of the Himalayas and the vibrant colours of Delhi, the cinematography is astonishing and helps set the tone for the film.


When Arabs Danced



Directed by: Jawad Rhalib

Nowadays when we hear about the Middle East, we visualise a culture where music and dance are not considered acceptable. But through the eyes of this film, we see a period over the last few decades where this was not at all the case. It was a period ‘when Arabs danced’.

Throughout this documentary, Rhalib takes us through different countries in the Middle East including Egypt and Iran to name a few. He shows us how it is through social and political movements that dance and music as art forms have become shunned even though they are part of Arab heritage. We are simultaneously exposed to different Belgian-based Arab artistes who strive and struggle to maintain this very heritage.

The film is boldly straight-up on the challenge that these artists face.


The following were a series of short films that were featured together under the banner Short Cuts Programme 1.




Directed by: A.V. Rockwell. Starring: Shavez Forest

Feathers highlights a social issue that plagues many African-American youth.

Elizier is a young boy who has been brought into The Edward R. Mill School for Boys. The school yearns to be a motivational haven for young African-American boys, but due to a lack of funding, it has become much more of a freehold for them. Elizier struggles with past traumas and integrating into this chaotic new milieu. As he does so, we are introduced to many socially hypocritical projections in the background via the radio, which is playing throughout much of the film.

It almost feels like a modern Lord of the Flies contained in 19 minutes but with a better ending.




Directed by: Matthew Hannam. Starring: Sarah Gadon

Paseo shows us a woman getting ready to return from Barcelona to Canada during the holidays. Unfortunately, she misses her flight and her plans with her boyfriend and his family are up in the air. The woman then stays overnight in Barcelona and gets led into a highly shady indiscretion gone out of control. What will she do now?


Paseo plays on surrealism. Sarah Gadon has portrayed her character very well.


Everything Calms Down


Directed by: Virginia Scaro. Starring: Virginia Scaro

They say it’s all in a day’s work. But what happens when your day is spent doing your work all inside your apartment without stepping out once? In this film, Virginia Scaro essays the role of a woman who does just that. And what she finds are some elements of the unusual. The film is experimental though perhaps unlikely for most of us.


Shadow Cuts


Directed by: Lucy Suess. Starring: Matenga Ashby, Troy Kingi, Kyla Moffat

The story is about a 15 year old boy and girl in New Zealand who are a wandering together. The boy looks like he has something to hide but is not confessing anything. The film is a tad slow though the scenery is beautiful.


Biidabaan (The Dawn Comes)


Directed by: Amanda Strong

This film deserves to be heralded as one of Canada’s best animated short films. The graphics and animation are enrapturing and the tale is compellingly told.

Biidabaan is framed as a modern fable in Canada’s current urban landscape where a centuries-old Anishnaabe practice of taking maple syrup saps from trees gets pitted against the backdrop of modern private housing divisions. Can Biidaaban continue to partake of maple saps freely in this setting? Find out.

The film operates on multi-dimensional planes. The visuals depict the future but are highly reflective of the present. If Canada’s social conscience is to be aroused among the younger generations, a film like this needs to be viewed.




Directed by: Saeed Jafarian. Starring: Mahsa Alafar, Banipal Shoomoon

We see a woman (Alafar) going out on the streets of Tehran at night searching for her missing lover. She then stumbles into a shady man (Shoomoon) who tries to make her question her feelings for her lover.

As a short film, this works well in terms of building curiosity and fear surrounding the woman. It could almost read like a more serious webisode. The end could have been a little bit clearer but perhaps that is what the director sought to do.


Read the Behind-the-Scenes at TIFF 2018 – How To Train Your Dragon: A Hidden World here

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