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Modern Family : The Saddest Boy in the World


Blog TO |   Sameer Vasta, September 09, 2006

In a jarring juxtaposition that plays with your logic, The Saddest Boy in the World features a color palette and musical score that is more reminiscent of a happy old-style physical comedy than a melancholic look at childhood depression. Timothy Higgins, our titular saddest boy, is cute and pathetic at the same time, and is wonderfully played by Benjamin B. Smith. Jamie Travis’ film keeps you wondering whether to laugh or to cry at Timothy’s plight, and culminates in a fantastic yet disurbing final scene. This is hands-down the best short film I have ever seen.

The Toronto Sun |   Bruce Kirkland, September 08, 2006

… there is an exhilarating, off-the-wall trio of films by British Columbia filmmaker Jamie Travis. As one of the most original voices in Canadian cinema, Travis contributes Patterns 2 and Patterns 3—the sequels to the fractured love story he screened in Toronto last year—plus the twisted, cruelly funny drama, The Saddest Boy In The World.

The Torontoist |   Mathew Kumar, September 07, 2006

One of our favourite short films ever. Seriously. Jamie Travis, of the superb Patterns 2 & 3 (part of the Short Cuts Canada Programme 1, above) has created a miniature masterpiece; impeccable set design, humour and timing. The self-explanatory story is a wonder, and if Jamie Travis isn’t the next big thing we’ll be entirely gutted. This man has talent, and we can’t emphasise this enough—you must see this film. (5/5)

The Georgia Straight |   Ken Eisner, September 28, 2006

We’re not in the habit of quoting Toronto writers for validation of local fare, but here we couldn’t help it. When he attended the recently wrapped Toronto International Film Festival, localite Jamie Travis was happily shocked to find The Saddest Boy in the World called “hands-down the best short film I have ever seen” by one TO blogger, while the Toronto Sun ’s persnickety Bruce Kirkland named Travis “one of the most original voices in Canadian cinema”.

Heady stuff, indeed, for a fellow, only 27, who has yet to make his first feature. And yet Travis, who grabbed several awards three years ago for Why the Anderson Children Didn’t Come to Dinner, clearly has a unique eye and distinctive touch—so much so that Boy was joined in Toronto by two more of his shorts, Patterns 2 and Patterns 3. And the same beautifully crafted trio is coming here.

From the article, Vancouver's Travis Makes his Patterns Known

The Globe & Mail |   Jason Anderson, November 24, 2006

Vancouver’s Jamie Travis scores a winner with The Saddest Boy in the World, a bleakly hilarious film about a nine-year-old who has every right to be sad.

From the article, Resfest

Toronto International Film Festival

Timothy Higgins is the saddest boy in the world—and after runaway pets, a kidnapping and the deportation of his best friend, he has good reason to be sad. Like a candy filled with arsenic, this dark comedy displays director Jamie Travis’s bold eye for detail and production design.

Twitchfilm |   September 12, 2006

Loaded with intricate set designs, strong cinematography and a mordantly absurd sense of humor, Travis lies somewhere between the worlds of David Lynch and Wes Anderson. An odd combination, yes, but a remarkably compelling one. There are a trio of Travis short films in the festival this year, the bleakly hilarious The Saddest Boy in the World and the concluding two thirds of the Patterns trilogy.

Blog TO |   Sameer Vasta, November 30, 2006

As many of you may have noticed, during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival I couldn’t stop gushing about Canadian short film-maker Jamie Travis and his sheer genius. His short film The Saddest Boy in the World was my favorite entry at the festival (yes, even better than Borat) and remains my favorite short film I have ever seen.

Ion Magazine |   Michael Mann, November 2006

If Entourage has you hunting for someone to befriend before their career in the film industry takes off, you should consider cozying up to Jamie Travis. After the 27 year old UBC film grad got people talking about him in 2005 with his short Patterns, Travis didn’t rest on his modest laurels. Rather, he made three more shorts, Patterns 2, Patterns 3 and The Saddest Boy in the World. All three screened in the Toronto and Vancouver film festivals this fall, setting what he calls an ‘unofficial record’ for most shorts made by one person to do the Canadian festival circuit.

Prepare to be impressed if the idea of a Canadian short conjures up images of a punk kid messing around with mom’s handicam on the weekend. Despite working with a small crew on The Patterns Trilogy—which is about the mysterious and bizarre relationship between two neighbours—it doesn’t look like your typical bedroom production. The Saddest Boy in the World—which is about a nine year old who plans to hang himself at his birthday party—is equally impressive, and was made with a crew of over 60 people.

His shorts combine the macabre subject matter of David Lynch and Todd Solondz with the art direction of Wes Anderson. The end result is something that seems wholly original and much more than pastiche…

Passivity isn’t really an option when watching his films as the mise en scène is handled with the meticulousness of a serial killer and immediately draws you in…

If Travis can pull off a 90 minute feature that keeps your attention like his 15 minute shorts do, then surely he’ll have his own stable of agents, managers and leeches all hugging it out behind the scenes. We’re hoping to be a part of that. That’s why we’re being so nice.

From the article, The Plaidest Boy in the World |   Antoine Tedesco, November 29, 2006

With its grassy carpet, lime-checkered wallpaper and green accents, Timothy Higgins’ suburban bedroom would make anyone sad. But for this 9-yr-old there’s more to it.

The Saddest Boy in the World’s opening scene sees Timothy (played sadly by Benjamin B. Smith) walking into his room wearing a birthday hat—you know the kind, pointy top—he climbs on to a chair positioned perfectly under a noose and pulls the noose taut. Then the story begins.

Writer/director Jamie Travis is surprised when people take the theme of suicide so seriously. ‘I tried to miniaturise the suicide and infantilise Timothy to such an extent that the act of him putting his head in a noose is like playing with dolls,’ he typed in an email interview.

‘I see this period of childhood as a grand one—for me, there was a great sense of drama with everything I did,’ he continued. ‘Rather than suggest that Timothy would actually kill himself, I wanted to supplant the drama of a child’s thought into an adult context. Is suicide the only escape for Timothy? I don’t think so.’

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