Canadian Film Fest 2016: DUTY CALLS (2016) – Short Film Review

Published by Shah Shahid on

The role of authority in our society is very much based on an honour system. Authority figures have power, because we allow them to have it. But where is that line and what happens when it’s crossed? A Canadian short film looks into that with a story that disturbs the conventional understanding of authority figures.

Here is my Spoiler-free Movie Review of ‘Duty Calls’ premiering at the 2016 Canadian Film Fest.

The Canadian Film Fest is a wholly Canadian film festival (obviously) that features home grown Canadian films in order to  elevate and celebrate excellence in films made outside the Hollywood norm. Held in the Downtown Toronto area, this year’s Festival takes place from March 30th to April 2nd. More information and (more importantly) tickets for the Festival can be found on their website.


Canadian Film Fest 2016: DUTY CALLS (2014) - Short Film Review

Canadian Film Fest 2016: DUTY CALLS (2014) - Short Film Review


Abruptly opening with a bar scene as a drunken woman is cut off for the night, ‘Duty Calls’ sets this awkward tone for the duration of the film. After repeated attempts by the bartenders to politely ask the woman to leave, the police is called in to deal with the troublemaker. An altercation ensues and she ends up in the backseat of this patrolman’s police car.

‘Duty Calls’ acts almost as a social suspense film, never quite explaining the circumstances of what’s happening on screen, until the very end. It’s a quiet head scratcher that is sweetly emotional and very moving. Veteran actress Debra McGrath, (‘Little Mosque On The Prairie’) carries the entire film as the drunk woman, whose tirade ranges from belligerent to tragic. The story is about the police officer and his now detained troublemaker, and the culmination of it all is wonderfully shocking.

In an out of place but surprising appearance, Sean Cullen plays the police officer, who is either fulfilling his duty or going out of his way as a great samaritan. Recognizable to comedy fans as a bona fide icon having starred in everything from ‘Mad TV‘ to ‘Royal Canadian Air Farce‘, Cullen also wrote this touching short film.

Director Jackie English tells a heart breaking story with ‘Duty Calls’ which, despite its format, takes its time to linger on the audience’s emotions. Along with writer Cullen, English uses an innovative idea and a brilliant performance by McGrath to create a wonderfully sweet short film.

Check out ‘Duty Calls’ when it premieres on April 2nd at the 2016 Canadian Film Fest as part of its Homegrown Shorts Screening. 

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*Header Image shown on Home Page is courtesy of Photographer Chris Hutcheson (* 

Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad


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