|International Competitive Exhibition - Presentation|
It hasn´t been easy to get up to here: after being through more than two thousand movies registered – “two thousand and a hundred”, our director recalls – and to be able to finish the program table only after exhaustive meetings, we, from the Selection Committee of the international competition of the 13th International Festival of Short Movies of BH, came across an obstacle somewhat easier to get over, the elaboration of a text to introduce the festival. It turns out that it is not easy to find a synthesis after so many images (and some choices), after much argument (and some negotiation), especially considering that the commission is comprised of six individuals of very different taste and temperament, which is presumed. The easiest solution would be to write a bureaucratic document, to protocol, as is customary. A solution that did not seem satisfactory to us. We decided that each one had the right to minimally expose what he/she had seen and experienced, after so much work and so many worlds visited. The following outcome is a kind of dialogue, or the beginning of it, the result of an exchange of emails between members of the commission.
I wanted to talk about the cinema and youth, since this year we have the premiere of the Youth Show at the festival and also excellent youth films, as usual, in the competition. Great movies of young people made by young people, I have never failed to find a handful of these during the years that I have made the selection of short films of the festival. I would say today that this is indeed the essence of the short film.
Cinema is an art inextricably linked to youth: remember Godard (the baby) and Fritz Lang (the dinosaur) agreeing on a conversation on this premise for the series of NotreTemps Cinema, "The Dinosaur and the Baby." We are in the year of 1960, at the height of Nouvelle Vague and the youth cinema. A generation, which grew up mirroring themselves more in the youth ("backsliding") of American cinema of the 50’s than in their own parents, claim the right to see themselves directly represented on screen – and therefore, beyond the young directors, Nouvelle Vague has also brought on a whole new crop of actors, young men who embodied habits, addictions and mannerisms (a way of being) of the new generation. Young people who, in their wanderings, drew a whole new urban topology, revealing a Paris that the French cinema itself didn´t know. I recall here the Nouvelle Vague because it started the short film, with films from young people about young people (films about the mutation), and because it represented the dual recognition of a generation that lived and had seen themselves living on the screen, an ephemeral adequacy between a new idea of film and a new idea of the man who, for a moment, could turn a special moment in the history of the cinema in a mythology of modern times.
Thenceforth, the short film has never lost its power. No matter how much a production gets lost in a maze of formulas and clichés of the sorcerer's apprentice, we can always find, amid all the clutter, the real trends of a new changing youth, new perceptions of the world, a whole new world which is announced in two or three movies.
The youth films of this year's crop has caught my attention for its topological character (movies like "Pude ver um Puma", "ParmiNous" and "Cálida tarde de Verano"). But there is here a major change, something like a trend: within new indeterminate spaces, wandering bodies are collective; it is the youth that becomes self-exiled. In the 60’s/70’s there were individuals who broke away (even heroically) from society towards the margin (an idealized margin). Today there are whole groups of young people roaming the ruins of that society, as if this procedure, expensive to modern cinema, walking, was taken as a trend of the disintegration of the current collective projects.
Tiago Mata Machado*
One thing I noticed during those months of curatorship as a determinant in my relationship with the short films was the speed with which everything happens. The movies are fast, the evaluations are fast, the notes are quick, the discussions are fast.
This observation leads me to two questions: how can we stop and look at the movies with the care they deserve? Is there room for subtleties in the short film? I say so.
A note: the youth as a will of discovery and risk is always fascinating. The taste for challenge, the anger against the established order, makes without a doubt, this time of life up into a moment of renewal and even innovation. Being young is to be always restless and eager for fighting and revolutions. The short film is a great medium for this kind of anxiety that with old age subsides and dies.
I remember a movie: in "Baionetas Caladas", Samuel Fuller builds the following scene: One of the soldiers must cross, during a dreary night, a minefield. Colleagues notice his action and the viewer is directly projected into a limit-situation of the moment observed. Fuller, despite any verisimilitude, makes the soldier walk far more than necessary, because the scene calls for a longer duration, so that the action of the soldier is not more important than the observation of the colleagues who follow his path. In "Parminous," one of the short films selected for the competition, a scene that somewhat resembles that of Fuller: one of the refugees must cross a border to return, and when he is near a bush where his companions are, he is caught by some guards.
Clearly, he is deliberately slower than the persecutors, but he must be because of the continuation of the mise-en-scene demands that others are not also captured, so that the movie has, from this point forward, its leitmotif. The refugee group is driven by such a permanent state of vigilance. But there is not always this 'necessity', in other films such as "Cálida tarde de verano", "Lesnavetsblancsempêchent", "Pude ver um puma", the movement doesn´t come from a prior motivation. Instead, the characters follow; explore the space as they find it. Recognized by some contemporary authors as a film flow, these films find strong dialogue in movies such as by Claire Denis, Gus Van Sant, HouHsiaoHsien. But beyond a simple reference, they bring the freshness of the attempt to reconfigure the view at a place in transformation. I realize, for example, in the ruins of "Pude ver um puma" the resonance of the same film that reflects its space like "Everybody’s Nuts".
Yes, a young film often done by young people. But the children which are characters in "Nena" or "Los caminos esperan" bring with themselves, in my opinion, a certain challenge of trying to understand the ways of dealing with the world of this youth. And then I remember a scene from one of the short films that caught my attention the most: in the Thai "A ground", children get together and play in their living room with a little robot toy and a Game Boy. The game sounds mingle with the characters sounds and the little girl directs her gaze directly into the camera as if to join us, spectators, in her universe. I think this youth film has this especial will of always invite us to each of its territorial explorations, sentimental or political. I see this point of view as the possibility of mirroring that this film finds.
It occurs to me to ask now, from this first exchange of ideas: what the young movie is? It seems to me it has been the bottom line over the meetings and discussions of the selection committee, even if it has not emerged programmatically or been explicitly explored yet. It may not have appeared that way because it loads in its essence a practical impossibility of defining this quagmire. Still, the selection reflects a kind of invisible tuning on this issue. Luiz drew attention to something central: the speed - and this is printed on a large scale at the pace of films viewed. However, it seems to me that the work of selection is not be overwhelmed by the hegemonic characteristics, predominant, of these thousands of works that come to us. Also because the youth, it seems, carries both the maniac flow of ideas (speed) and also the resistance to the impositions of the world; the space for silence, dysfunction, walking aimlessly. The thing pulsates strongly, but not always does it translates into faster impositions on the viewer's view. In the analysis made, many times the film is dictated by the rhythm of walking, the rhythm of the body which is discovered, that is investigated. This rhythm breathes, between one step and another. Not always get flustered.
Another issue that these films evoke in me is the inconsistency. Within this constant wandering of the characters, in this vague destination (or even in the non-destination), uncertainty arises as an impulse; they throw themselves, stabbing, into the unknown. And this impulse, in all its disarray and disorganization, brings us the beauty and the unavoidable strength of youth. If the film runs into errors or excesses, it is because they take more risk, they are founded largely on their characters and they have unfathomable ways. We are given the opportunity to follow the search - the movies are moved more by a passion than by a methodical and calculated exercise of control. References are not only scattered, but chaotic. The beauty of the dialogues restrained by the classic film traditions or by the avant-garde creates impossible harmonies, making the Dardenne brothers live together with Tarkovsky, Cassavetes and Straub, genre cinema and essay film. The inconsistency of the filmmakers is explicit in the risks, and among amazing and powerful successes, and beautiful errors, we have this lumbering walk. Therefore we will follow the footsteps of these young characters, of this young cinema.
Although they do not fit in any particular movement, some of the international competition film moved me for trying to dive deeply in search of their own language, using clear (and I would also say somewhat mature) aesthetic choices within uncommon narratives. The first film that comes to mind is the amazing work of experimental animation "MRDCHAIN”. With its surrealistic representation, the film transports us to a strange brutal and expressionist universe. In fact, the feeling I had is that we are guided through a world which we do not belong to. A world of abnormal physicality, which symbolizes the fear of physical decline and presents to us a particularly critical view on anonymity, urbanization, and violence. I was under the impression of seeing a movie which is reminiscent of an animated dream from a film by David Lynch. Was that a body within a body? Or a dream within a dream?
Another film that impressed me was the Israeli "Audition." With a very simple proposition (the entire short film takes place on a sofa at an audition), the film manages to expose all aspects of a religious conflict that has endured for centuries, all of this without showing a wall, a church / synagogue or a battle tank. But within this apparent simplicity, we are exposed to such strong and real feelings that the growing tension (especially sexual and cultural) during movie becomes almost unbearable. For me it is the most intense and beautiful example of a trend in contemporary cinema.
More than one young film, or a film by or for young people, I notice in our selection films with a view being at the same time generous and rigorous with the world – the surroundings (physical), but also the world of cinema (broadcasting). More than a theme that runs through these films, there is a political vision of imponderably spaces, people and ways of looking. Be young adults, children, animated figures, what it seems to explode on the screen is a strong concern with the ambience, the social and political direction, and the inadequacy of any kind of marketing tie or requirement. The filmmakers of the films chosen here allow themselves to show their aesthetic and plural choices of the technical way of filming with the camera position. As Tiago Mata Machado said, it is possible to relate the moment with the Nouvelle Vague. In addition, I would also say to be possible to relate these works to any historic moment in which art was not satisfied with just being art "per se", but also a key trigger for feelings and thoughts without, however, selling itself as a pamphlet. Some movies here speak of something in the theme, but they make it clear how interested they are in conveying meanings in the elaboration of its form: the balance of one another will lead to their excellence.
It is quite interesting to weave these thoughts after a thorough selection process. Hundreds and hundreds of short films were accumulated at an insane speed, as well pointed out by Luiz Pretti. At first, I had the feeling of making contact with an excess of "stories": many movies were willing to tell stories and to make clear moral values and beliefs, making the scenario a vehicle to reach a "message". For a while, I feared that it might remain just a selection of "moral movies". Behold, during the sifting of films and the discussion with the group, the element of "cinema" blinked hard, and we faced powerful possibilities, impressive film that seemed to run down our sensibilities and almost force us to share them. This effect varied among the committee members, some preferring certain movies to others (natural and essential element of a good commission). The list of productions presented here brings together much of our feeling. The concern that we will see on the screen of the festival reflects a lot of the concern that mobilized us in the difficult task of defining the movies to be watched here.
* Selection Committee – International Short Films