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(Credit: Toronto Film Festival)


Watch David Cronenberg’s first short film ‘Transfer’

Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg has become a household name in the world of cinema thanks to his unique style of presenting gory horror classics. His impressive back-catalogue includes sci-fi horror films, such as Shivers (1975), Scanners (1981), Videodrome (1983), and The Fly (1986), but Cronenberg has also made notable contributions in other genres throughout his five decades in the business. 

In the 1990s, Cronenberg was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival for his work on the 1996 psychological thriller Crash. The award is particularly prestigious because it isn’t annual and, instead, it is only occasionally presented at the request of the official jury, who, in this case, gave the award “for originality, for daring, and for audacity”.

Long before his mainstream success, Cronenberg was a 23-year-old Toronto University student with a degree in English Literature and Language. He had a vision of becoming an esteemed director alongside greats such as Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock. The year was 1966, and Cronenberg decided to make his film debut with a six-minute short film titled Transfer

Transfer was written, directed, co-edited and co-produced by Cronenberg. As the filmmaker once described it: “Transfer, my first film, was a surreal sketch for two people – a psychiatrist and his patient – at a table set for dinner in the middle of a field covered in snow. The psychiatrist has been followed by his obsessive former patient”.

Cronenberg added: “The only relationship the patient has had which has meant anything to him has been with the psychiatrist. The patient complains that he has invented things to amuse and occasionally worry the psychiatrist but that he has remained unappreciative of his efforts”.

The 16mm short is, as one might expect, very strange indeed. A man is featured brushing his teeth in a field while dunking his toothbrush in grape soda. Naturally, the story doesn’t have much time to unravel, and the film was, by most accounts, a little underwhelming. However, it gives a fantastic insight into Cronenberg’s early eccentricities and visions which he built upon impressively over his subsequent career.

Watch the full short film below.