Daria Gamliel for Cinetalk.net

A lot of the short films this year are about the female perspective.

Sister This (Claire Byrne, Ireland) is more of an anecdote, rather than a short film. The career choice of one sister occludes the struggle of the other. The well-meaning sister-slash-nanny is losing her sanity. She is failing to handle her imposed charge – her young nephew. She can’t understand how the child’s mom could prioritize money over family. But as most sisters do, after a good bicker, all is as it always was and always will be: eye-rolling, teasing, and acceptance.

Unliveable (Matheus Farias, Enock Cavalho, Brazil) is an unexpected little gem. A woman searches for her missing daughter. Due to the vast indifference toward the safety of transgender women, Mom attempts to locate her (trans) daughter without much help from the authorities.

Searching for clues among her daughter’s belongings, she finds an unfamiliar gadget. It glows and generates heat, but she would never imagine its function. Lots of mood, incorporating location shots that seep with an unexpected beauty.

The future doesn’t seem so distant in Freya (Camille Hollett-French, Canada). Day to day tasks are managed by an Alexa or Siri-like government appointed AI. Tired after work? Ask Freya to order in some delivery nosh. Noticing a cavity coming on? Freya will automatically book an appointment with a dentist. Feeling horny? Freya will assist you with an app that doesn’t match you with a perfect date, but instead with a perfect one-night stand. Up to you if you wish to revisit your partner, if his or her ratings are high enough.

In this dystopia masquerading as Utopia, it is a woman’s duty to society to help the population grow. With child? Congratulations, there’s no such thing as abortion. Self-harm is of course, a federal offense. It’s an uncanny Brave New World, but one that is strangely familiar after 2020 – a year in isolation, relying on Uber Eats, Tinder and Zoom apps. A cheeky but timely piece.

*Peep! Peep!*

The narration in Peeps (Sophie Somerville, Australia) is handled by birds who observe the behavior patterns of mall-goers. Yes, bids narrate this quirky but astute short. The feathered friends know everything. Of particular interest is a group of girls bumming around the mall. Teenaged girls are back-biting, despicable little birds. Many of these little princesses turn into the equally detestable women in films like Savage Breakup (see below).

They are self-absorbed; they are petty; they are two-faced. And then there’s the quiet, weird one who looks like a Greta Thunberg clone – always gazing out the window wanting to frolic in Nature and save the planet. Biting and hilarious, but subtly so.

The aforementioned Savage Breakup (Jaclyn Vogl, Canada) is about the most dubious kind of friendship. The type that’s synonymous with betrayal. But not every back-bitey teenager grows up uncivilized. The classy friend is the one who nails the backstabber in a manner that garners applause from everyone else the bitch has wronged. Women watching….go ahead and clap. Loudly. Scream “Yass, Bitch!” as gleefully as you like. This is a no-nonsense short that gets to its punch (in the face) quickly. A win for all of us who have ever been the victim of The Frenemy.

https://pendancefilmfestival.ca/