Made in Europe - Go Short




Life of Others - Best of European Shorts 2


Through a buzz of curious artsy types, and a flurry of obscure beers and art-house leaflets a bustling queue begins to form, snaking through the circular tables to the cinema door 'Naar de Salen'.

This is the International Short Film Festival.

The short films in the section entitled 'Life of Others - Best of European Shorts 2' were mixed and varied, with a common theme of 'The Other'.

The Fuse: or How I Burned Simon BolivarThe Fuse: Or How I Burned Simon Bolivar

The first of which was The Fuse: Or How I Burned Simon Bolivar by Igor Drljańća uses a selection of home movies from 1992 in Bosnia & Herzegovina (around the time of the Yugoslav wars) to tell the story centred on a young boy in Sarajevo, told from his perspective, in retrospect. The theme of the naivete of children runs throughout, although this is juxtaposed with a deep understanding and novel perspective that children can have. A surprising insight into the turn of events, seen through the perspective of a child in amongst war. How the significant becomes insignificant, priorities change and the need for children to act beyond their years in the face of adversity.

Silent
Silent

Silent by L. Rezan Yesilbas - as the title suggests - is almost without dialogue, yet far from silent. The 14 minute short puts emphasis on the senses - noises, textures, smells, which say far more than a dialogue could.  The story of a Kurdish woman in 1984 in Diyarbakir, and her relationship with her husband, and in turn, the authorities, is told in vibrant colours, with intimate close-ups - giving meaning to the smallest twitch of an eyebrow. The explanation of what exactly is going on is witheld from the audience, which retains the suspense and adds to the 'slice of life' or voyeuristic feeling of the piece, as if we are just following this woman for the day. In the small movements, camera angles (and 'natural' feel of the camera movements - through a 'steadicam' that mimics natural eye-movements), the vulnerability of the characters is portrayed far more accurately than words could. When dialogue is used, the actual words are almost irrelevant, what is significant is whether it is Kurdish or Turkish being spoken (which is explained in the subtitles). Sub-texts of women in a men's world and oppression linger, as well as the affect of international relations on inter-personal ones - but the true beauty of this short is in it's ability to convey so much purely though senses. 

A Society
A Society

A Society by Jens Assur is one of the more disturbing of the shorts in this series. The animalistic portrayal of, what can only be explained as a group of refugees on an illegal journey in a metal container on the back of a lorry/boat/or some other vehicle, to the possibility of a new life. Within this container, a strange semblance of society emerges, as the people must co-operate to survive. This caged existence is filmed entirely in a sort of sepia/black-and-white tone, which both emphasises the role of race, as well as the bleak-ness of the situation. It also means that the intense extremes of temperature must be expressed not through colour, but through the characters actions. The characters become co-dependent, yet are in competition to survive, and gradually lose the will to live. There was something less 'genuine' and more 'removed', surreal or 'fictional-feeling' than the previous two, and I think this was not entirely unconnected to the fact that it was a Swedish production made entirely in French. 

Rivers Return
Rivers Return

Rivers Return by Joe Vanhoutteghem is in sharp contrast to the previous three films, which address difficulties in international relations and document situations of extreme pain. Rivers Return is far more an abstract piece of art, and is - in part - an interpretive dance piece exploring ideas of time, youth, relationships, 'them and us', fate/lack of control, journeys and conformity. It takes place in an almost imaginary countryside place where saturated colours feature prominently. The colours are used to indicate stages of life, but also as a powerful visual tool to examine the 'them and us' mentality, and the process of grouping and re-grouping in society. Use of movement is incredibly important, where much of the film seems as though it is being played in reverse. The people seem to be in a state of lack of control, an external wind-like force is pushing them into their movements. This seems symbolic for the way in which we are not in control of the circle of life, and are 'fated' to live out our lives - the inevitability of time, the inevitability of eventual conformity.

Outside Comfort
Outside Comfort

The last in the series: Outside Comfort by Andreas J. Riiser - is, although desperately sad, thankfully much lighter and hopeful than the previous shorts. A Norwegian production following the story of a wife and mother and her inner struggles with committing adultery. Ideas of young love, the forbidden, modern living, double lives and lost time are explored through the catalyst of a complete stranger that she meets, with whom she shares an instant understanding, and an unlikely bond. The pathos of the deep questions posed about life are off-set by the ridiculous, which both take the edge off the situation yet gives the deep observations an even greater profoundity. 

Made in Europe - Go Short took place at Maastricht's Lumiere cinema March 15th - 16th, 2013
http://www.madeineurope.nu/programme/films-per-section/the-life-of-others-best-of-european-shorts-2/
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