Worldwide Shorts fest to unspool in June

Six-day event to exhibit pix from 28 countries

TORONTO — The ninth Worldwide Short Film Festival will kick off June 3 with a gala of six shorts from five countries, including Martin Strange-Hansen’s Oscar winning “This Charming Man” from Denmark.

This year’s slate for the six-day fest, unveiled Wednesday, also includes Salvador Aguirre’s “From Mesmer With Love or Tea for Two,” winner of the 2002 short Grand Prix at Cannes.

Fest will unspool 200 shorts from Canada and 27 other countries, among them 10 world premieres and 40 North American premieres.

“The growth of the festival over the past two years has been tremendous,” said festival director Shane Smith. “Toronto is a film-savvy city and a great place for screening shorts.”

Nine short films set in the world of “The Matrix” will appear in a program called “The Animatrix.” Inspired by the work of the brothers Wachowski, these shorts are directed by anime artists from Japan, Korea and the U.S. The Wachowskis wrote four of the Animatrix episodes.

The international spotlight is trained on Brazil and will feature 14 films, including the North American premier of “To Be Happy Forever,” from Gabriela Lins Silva.

Aardman Animation (“Chicken Run”) will feature in the Animator’s Perspective program, with Aardman animator Merlin Crossingham bringing some old favorites and some new “Wallace and Gromit” fare.

Out There, this year’s sci-fi program, will include a student film by George Lucas, “Electronic Labyrinth,” that was the basis for his feature “THX 1138.”

There will also be a program of classic silent comedies, Aboriginal shorts and celebrity shorts, including films directed by or starring Eric McCormack, Illeana Douglas, Ewan McGregor and Chad Lowe. Other programs include Slap ‘n Tickle, Midnight Mania and, new this year, the Canadian Film Center’s Film School Showcase.

In addition, Short Films, Big Ideas is a four-day symposium of seminars, panels and workshops attracting buyers, distributors, delegates and filmmakers.

Accredited by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, fest winners are eligible for consideration for the Academy Awards. Based on its win in 2000, the film “Copy Shop” went on to receive an Oscar nom.

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