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Small Gauge Trauma 2016

Fantasia’s annual showcase of cutting-edge horror shorts from around the world returns with eight slices of dread that will stun you senseless. From the U.K., we’ve got Rob Savage’s DAWN OF THE DEAF (World Premiere), in which an unexplained sonic pulse demolishes England’s hearing population, resurrecting them as flesh-eating zombies and leaving a pack of deaf people as humanity’s last stand. It’s an amazingly cool and eerie take on the living dead, featuring over 500 extras and shot with numerous performers from London’s deaf acting community. Next, you will meet THE PUPPET MAN (Canadian Premiere), Jacqueline Castel’s aesthetically supercharged Sundance sensation slasher fever dream, featuring music – and an appearance – by John Carpenter. SHORT TERM 12’s Keith Stanfield stars in KING RIPPLE, a fresh and surreal horror creation from gifted teenaged filmmaker Luke Jaden (THE LISTING). Set in a desolate Detroit futureworld, it sees a group of teens venture into an urban wasteland to find a legendary super-being. An acupuncturist and her patient reach a new point in their relationship that goes well beyond the boundaries of alternative medicine in Blake Rice’s chilling MERIDIANS (Canadian Premiere). Antonio Padovan’s procreation shocker EVELESS (World Premiere) depicts an intimate medical struggle of the sort best discovered in a darkened room.

From Australia, we’ve got Matt Richards’ thought-provoking and confrontational black comedy/horror/sci-fi THE DISAPPEARANCE OF WILLIE BINGHAM (Canadian Premiere), in which the state introduces a controversial and very literally progressive new penalty for capital crimes. In Anthony Collamati’s hypnotically frightening BREAK MY BONES (World Premiere), a terminally ill child stumbles upon a terrifying discovery that brings all of her concerns about the balance of life and death into a heart-stopping – and darkly empowering – new light. Stunningly directed, brilliantly performed and imbued with the creeping, white-knuckle atmosphere of a waking deathdream, BREAK MY BONES exists in a place far outside the box. Headlining the lineup is a nerve-shredding masterpiece from France, Quarxx’s A NEARLY PERFECT BLUE SKY (Canadian Premiere), about a man living in the ruins of a desert farm, caring for a gravely ill roommate and keeping regular contact with beings from a far-away place. This outright nightmare of a film immediately joins the ranks of the all-time great breakout shorts of the genre, alongside such landmarks as CARNE, LOVE FROM MOTHER ONLY and THE SEPARATION. Brace yourself.

For complete details on the films in this program, go here.

— Mitch Davis