VSFF 2022 Reviews in a Capsule

Why don’t studios bother with short films anymore? There simply has to be demand for bite-size stories in a world of two hour+ features and butt-numbing bingeable series. In the meantime, it’s the independent filmmakers who will keep us entertained for 20 minutes-or-less-at-a-time and where better to see the latest crop than the latest edition of the Vancouver Short Film Festival? Here are three I saw this week:


The McTheorem

Coming at you at the pace of a commercial and only slightly longer than one, The McTheorem by directors Gary Chatha and Mattisse Weyler-Hubert takes the ridiculous promise of a long simmering conspiracy theory concerning a Soviet Russian connection to McDonalds via Vancouver’s infamous Expo 86 “Mcbarge” and absolutely commits to the lunacy.

The cast led by Scott Baker makes up in enthusiasm for what they seem to lack in seasoning and the nuts and bolts behind the camera come together nicely. The short is over before you can really process it, but the final joke hits almost perfectly and makes a solid appetizer for the further shorts to come.




Mensch is a Mensch

Many docs are motivated by a tragedy or serious problem that needs solving. No real problems here for 90-year old Larry Robbins who has retained a vibrancy and vitality that belie his nonagenarian status. 

For a whirlwind 11 minutes, Larry recounts the highlights of his long life from his family fleeing facism in Europe to establishing the best/only(?) Jewish bagelry in Toronto to losing his beloved wife too soon, but finding multiple reasons to keep living life to the fullest.

Larry is pure sunshine who could probably drive an entire feature as effortlessly as he approaches each day (each one beginning with a different cereal; Life cereal on Wednesdays). The sentiment of age being “just a number” often seems cliche, but folks like Larry make it ring true!





Quarantine Fling

The COVID era has yet to really be reckoned with on film other than a few nods from TV (The Good Doctor and Mythic Quest come to mind). We’ve all lived through this hell together so it wasn’t without some trepidation that I selected Milo Shandel’s comic take on the “quarantine” of 2020.

I was very fortunately rewarded with one of the brightest and funniest shorts I’ve had the pleasure to watch in quite some time. Nathaniel Moher’s tight screenplay of a young man Todd (Ryan Beil) dexterously faking a girlfriend via Instagram and Zoom if only having to avoid an insistent quarantine invite from his overbearing mom and pop (Nancy Robertson and Brent Butt respectively, packing all the comic heat from their Corner Gas days). But when quarantine loosens to allow two households to gather together, Todd must scramble to produce the real thing for a family dinner mere hours away.

Fling hits the ground running and misses nary a comic beat for its 15 minute runtime. The cast is uniformly excellent, Todd’s hijinks are clever, and even the slightly deus ex machina ending is carried off in such style that you’ll find yourself still grinning by the last of the end credits.




All three films can be screened virtually on vsff.com/films until Feb 6

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