TIFF 2012: The ABCs of Death

Posted by Sandstorm in Movies, Reviews, Uncategorized on September 19th, 2012.
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An interesting, though somewhat disturbing project featuring short films from 27 indie directors showcases murder, accidents and cultural differences in all its gory glory.

WTF. That was the word, or rather, abbreviation chosen for the letter W in this movie, and it’s the one word I can identify myself the most with after seeing this project. I deliberately call it a project, and not a movie, because it isn’t one. The idea for this collage of short films supposedly sprung from the mind of one of the producers who was reading his kids from an alphabet book. Basically, the idea was that the producers chose a group of up and coming horror/gore directors and randomly distributed them with one of 25 letters of the alphabet. With a budget of 5000 dollars and total artistic freedom they could then make a movie with a maximum duration of 5 minutes depicting a word starting with the letter they got allocated. The 26th (the letter T) was used in an open competition where people could enter their own creations. 27 Directors from 15 different countries stepped up to the task and together created one of the most diverse and disturbing films I’ve ever seen. And you might be wondering whether that’s a good thing.


Good question

Truth to be told when I came out of the movie I was seriously questioning myself how I would rate this, ehm, “movie”. The inherent problem with a project containing work from so many people is that it’s all over the place and essentially contains 26 different visions on movie making. That results in the certainty that, as a viewer, you must have a very, very broad taste to like everything this project has to offer.

The thing is that this inherent weakness is at the same time the reason why this project ultimately is actually quite enjoyable and a great showcase of cultural differences and their influences on movie making. Where the North American and European countries for the most part took a humoristic approach to the subject, the Spanish-speaking directors made projects with a more serious approach and the Japanese creations were, as expected, just plain weird. While of course these are generalizations, it was interesting to see that you could categorize projects quite well. It was also good to see that not all projects stuck with the live action format. Two of the projects (among whom the public entry for the letter T) were animated shorts and were a refreshing change from all the hardcore violence in most of the other movies.

Some directors also managed to create projects that depicted relevant problems in society right now, like the films for the letters P and X. Other highlights were D, H, Q and the aforementioned W, which admittedly wasn’t great but did a good job at making me WTF.  Yes that’s a verb now.

So what about the weird entries? While some of these were (mostly) innocent fun (the letter F, for fart for example), two really crossed the boundary of good taste. 

The letter L was seriously one of the most disturbing things I’ve seen so far in my life and finally made understand the warning at the beginning of the movie that everyone in the audience should be 18+. While it didn’t traumatize me, it did succeed in making me severely uncomfortable and wonder how disturbed the director must be in real life that he came up with the concept for the movie.

The letter Z (a Japanese creation) was also something I didn’t think I would get to see before I entered the theater. Let me just say this, it involved sushi, naked women and a guy with a Nazi outfit. Now, imagine how that plays out and go and see this movie. I guarantee you the concept you just imagined is more innocent than the film this director made.

So what of it…

Ultimately, after long deliberation, I would call this project an interesting view. Yes, that’s the word I was looking for: Interesting.

Only a few of the projects are real hits and it surely isn’t something I would recommend to everyone, but it is a nice opportunity to see some stuff that’s out there and you would normally miss because it’s so damn obscure.

If you have some time left in your busy schedule, aren’t easily offended and can sit through some form of torture porn with a whole audience surrounding you without feeling too uncomfortable, be sure to give it a watch.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you…


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