Maddin's My Winnipeg (2007)

Director Guy Maddin (My Winnipeg, The Saddest Music in the World) serves as guest judge for this year’s Toronto Urban Film Festival (TUFF), a commuter showcase of one-minute-long silent shorts. Here, the famously experimental Maddin shares five tips to explorers of the realms of silent filmmaking.

TUFF, beginning this Friday, September 5, and running through to September 15, 2014, takes place at the same time as the city’s better-known festival heavyweight. But instead of competing with TIFF, TUFF (billed as the largest commuter film festival in North America) capitalizes on the crowds drawn to the city this week, presenting its selection of minute-long silent films to audiences at Canadian subway stations, shopping malls, and the Calgary International Airport.

A TUFF 2014-selected short plays on a subway screen.

A TUFF 2014-selected short plays on a subway screen


1. The studies of physiognomy and phrenology should be primary considerations in the casting of actors. Head bumps have far too long been ignored by the industry.

2. Actors should have expressive fingers—real, artificial or even missing!—for fingers represent up to 10 more tongues, each capable of expressing a thought or a throb.

3. Walking actors have forgotten how to walk. All actors should walk with latent or overt purpose, and cram a little poetry into their gaits while they’re at it.

4. Sitting or lying-down actors should sit or lie down with poetry. Modern directors have garbed such actors in prose for at least five decades. How they have done this is a mystery, for the sitting and lying-down actors suggest anything but prose—dreams knit within their heads; looms vigorously producing dreamy tapestries fling their stray threads into the air above these heads; the stray threads fall at random onto the floor in children’s patterns of adult schemes, little primitive scraps of sordid wish fulfillment. The air and ground surrounding these actors should be strewn with mysteries, tangles, shreds, rent aromas, half-committed murders and doilies.

5. Because of the above, the sleeping actor is the best actor—the poetically and psychologically truest representation of the human—and should be used as often as the sitting, lying-down, walking, running and flying actors. MM


Not going to be at a subway station or shopping mall in Canada over the next two weeks? TUFF kindly granted us a (stationary) peek at a handful of its official selections, so take a minute—or three—to watch these soundless beauties: “Télescopage” by Philippe Allard and Tomi Grgicevic, “Child Labour” by Mohamad Reza Keivanfar, and “CHOMP” by Rebeca Ortiz and Sai Xu.

Short films presented courtesy of TUFF. Visit the festival’s website for more information. Top image is of Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg (2007), courtesy of IFC Films.

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