I love a good shorts showcase. If you offer me one that’s full of female-centred storytelling, you can be sure that I’ll add it to my itinerary. Fantasia’s 2018 Born of Woman showcase featured nine short films from around the world; here are five of the standout entries.

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The Gaze (2017)

Dir. Ida Joglar (USA)

A predatory lab supervisor and Nobel hopeful sets his sights on a new victim in The Gaze, a short film that is both difficult to watch and entirely worth the journey. The true horror of The Gaze lies in the reality of its subject matter, explored both unflinchingly and sympathetically. The short illustrates not only the dangers that women face from the men in their lives, but also the internalized misogyny that can lead other women to disbelieve the stories of their friends, even in the face of obvious emotional trauma. The ending is one that garnered cheers from all genders in the audience, and its final few seconds could serve as an inspirational advertisement for Time’s Up.

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Petite Avarie (2018)

Dir. Manon Alirol, Léo Hardt (France)

Shocking and hilarious, this biting dark comedy digs deep into the worst of human nature, illustrating perhaps the worst breakup ever committed to film — as well as the most baffling aftermath. The short elicits gasps and giggles equally and easily, and its dialogue must be heard to be believed.

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Who’s Who in Mycology (2016)

Dir. Marie Dvořáková (Czech Republic/USA)

An unexpectedly whimsical entry, this Czech short co-stars a wide range of historical mycologists … sort of. When Tony is tasked with taking home a young acquaintance who’s danced and drunk herself into a stupor, he discovers that her apartment has some very unusual features — most notably, a bookshelf full of copies of a strange tome called Who’s Who in Mycology. When a mishap causes the bookshelf to collapse and the books to spill out onto the floor, Tony finds himself an unwilling participant in a topsy-turvy transformation. Wine-fuelled fever dream or mushroom-based miracle? You decide. Who’s Who in Mycology won a 2017 Student Academy Award in the narrative film category, and it’s easy to see why — the performances, set design, costuming, story, and special effects are a delight.

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Lucy’s Tale (2018)

Dir. Chelsea Lupkin (USA)

Ah, puberty. This period of confusion, embarrassment, and transformation has always been ripe territory for the terror-inclined. Chelsea Lupkin’s coming-of-age horror pulls us effectively into the perspective of Lucy, a sensitive young woman dealing with hormonal urges, a trio of truly terrible mean girls, a burgeoning crush, and some distressing bodily changes. I watched this short with Joe, who immediately pointed out that this short was an impressive proof of concept that deserved a full-length story. And I agree.


Catcalls (2017)

Dir. Kate Dolan (Ireland)

Anyone who has dealt with obnoxious or creepy catcallers will find a malicious pleasure in this Irish short featuring some sharp-clawed payback for a man who picked the wrong women to mess with on his way home. Catcalls has a very simple premise and no-frills execution, but it is satisfying enough and was very well-suited for the Born of Women program.