Film Review: PEARL, 2017, USA, Fantasy/Drama

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SHORT FILM played at the October 2017 STUDENT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Review by Kierston Drier

Fantastical and filled with whimsy, PEARL is an anachronistic tale with the sweet, sorrowful touching effect of a well-told fairy tale. Director Assia Quinhang Shoa brings this USA film to life with care and detail. Our story follows an aging and lonely puppeteer Sam who finds and rescues a young mermaid. Unable to speak English, Sam names her Pearl and believes at long last he has found a friend. But Pearl belongs in the ocean and no amount of devotion Sam has for her can change that truth.


Told with innocence and delight, this simple story warms the heart. It has boasts beautiful and detailed production design and excellent performances by the main characters. It resonates with a meaningful message- young or old, we all want to belong.


Sam must make a difficult choice in what is best for Pearl, but that doesn’t mean his impact on her hasn’t been profound. A sweet story with the comfort of a favorite lullaby, PEARL is an excellent short to warm the heart of anyone. A satisfying and compelling piece that is sure to be a delight to all.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

PEARL, 15min, USA, Fantasy/Drama
Directed by Assia Qianhang ShaoIt is a fairy tale about an old lonely puppeteer, Sam, saves a 9-year- old wounded mermaid and helps care for her and love her as a father. However, when her wounds heal he struggles with letting her go back to the ocean.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: 2017 Oscar Nominated Animation Shorts

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Just in time for the Academy Awards ceremonies at the end of February, there will be screenings of 3 programs of short featurettes – short features, animated shorts and short documentaries.  These run from February the 10th  and make a welcome change from feature films.  These are the budding filmmakers who might make it big one day in Hollywood.

The total running time of this animated shorts program is 86 minutes.  The program runs for Feb 10th to the 16th at different times each day at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

For complete showtimes, click on the link below:

Capsule Reviews of each animated short areme0w! outlined below:-

BLIND VAYSHA (Canada 2016) ***

Directed by Theodore Ushsev

Canada’s National Film Board’s (NFB) BLIND VAYSHA has the strangest animation of all the nominees.  Done like eerie paintings, the tale centres on poor BLIND VAYSHA who was born with a green and a brown eye.  The left eye sees the past, the right the future, so she is blind for not being able to see the present.  It is an eerie story, with appropriate weird animation and colours.  It is based on a short story so I would think the animation likely flowed the illustrations of the story.


Directed by Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadji

A sheriff returns to the cliff, the scene of a past accident where he reminisces a past tragedy which is shown in flashback.  This animated short stands out for its attention to details (the finger movements, the puffed up flesh brow the eyes) and the music by Gustave Sabtiallaly.  The short is also exciting enough with the sheriff trying to save, one assumes is his father.

PEARL (USA 2016) ***

Directed by Patric Osborne

A feel good musical with catchy country and western songs sees a girl (the PEARL of the title is not her name but the name of the car she and her father call home) chasing her dream to make it big in the music world.  Lyrics like ‘unbroken love carried inside’ and ‘no wrong way home’  make the songs memorable.  This she does with her band as they drive off in the sunset.  It takes a bit to figure out what it happening on screen – which tends to be a bit confusing.  Still, this is an entertaining short, memorable for its music and lightness.

PIPER (USA 2016) ***
Directed by Alan Barillaro

PIPER is the new animated short form Pixar Studios.  As expected, this short is the best in terms of animated quality, and one wonders if the Academy will give a chacne fto the other nominees.  This is a funny cute tale of a sandpiper nestling, who be ventures out from her nest, edged on by her mother, to look for food like cockles.  But the nestling is scared of the incoming wave, the first of which ruffles all her baby furry feathers.  It is cutesy fun, typical of Disney with a few laugh out laughs.

Directed by Robert Valley

Told in voiceover in the first person, the narrator has been commissioned by his friend’s father to 1) to get his son, Techno Stypes to stop drinking and have a liver transplant and 2) bring from China to Vancouver.  It is no easy task as Techno has no qualms in changing his ways.  As the story implies, this is one animate short that is full of swering, full-busted women and swearing.  The drawings are done like the Dick tardy style comic strip with lanky figures often in dark background.  Director Valley does not compromise his characters by making them likeable.  An original piece and the longest running nominated short at 36 minutes.  A sad and beautiful piece, this one gets my vote for Best Animated Short.  The credits give thanks to Techno’s parents – so this might be a true story of friendship.   This short will be played last in the program, so that children can be ushered out of the auditorium owing to the short’s content.


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