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December 10th–14th, 2014 / Bucharest / CinemaPRO & Elvira Popescu Cinema / the 5th edition

BIEFF 2014 International Competition: Theme Program – IN SEARCH OF A SOUL: Spiritual Journeys

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Referencing Jung's seminal work Modern Man in Search of a Soul, this theme program is primarily an internal examination, a reflection on the self, on the divine and demonic nature of mortals, of the arts, and, beyond that, a desire to transcend them. There are no limits to the exploration of the soul, and neither to the techniques through which the films in this program were made, starting from experimental documentary, to animation, CGI and motion capture. The emergence of existential crisis, due to the recognition of lack of control over one’s destiny, leads to the recurring theme of the soul-search. If we sometimes doubt that we are spiritual beings and we begin to look inside and outside of ourselves for evidence, these six films succeed to affirm each in its own way that we have without a doubt a spiritual core. (Program trailer)
The Green Serpent

Set against visually piercing Russian landscapes, THE GREEN SERPENT: OF VODKA, MEN AND DISTILLED DREAMS by Benny Jaberg explores the conflicting feelings vodka awakens, from liberating creative urges, to (self-)destructive behaviors. The interviewees’ sincere testimonies, which talk about the transition from agony to ecstasy and vice versa, gradually become priceless existential meditations. Initially presented as a masochistic way to escape reality, and thus to avoid spiritual search, the drink proves to be the substance which brings them the creative revelation of the soul, making it possible to achieve transcendence and reach quintessence. (Gabriela Lupu, BIEFF) (Trailer)

If to liberate one’s creative possibilities one must also liberate the soul and its creativity, then the resulting work of art becomes an indirect testament of the author’s humanity. A hypnotic film of incredible visual appeal, BEAUTY animates classic paintings by artists such as Caravaggio, William Bouguereau and others in order to explore the main human experiences and feelings. Rino Stefano Tagliafierro starts from representations of innocence (infants, children and angels) which gradually evolve into studies of topics such as sexuality, pain, old age and death. All are highlighted by an ambient soundtrack that evokes inspirational and frightening feelings. The movie is a unique sensorial experience that revives classical works and delves into the essential duality of human nature, both demonic and divine. (Gabriela Lupu, BIEFF). World premiered in Locarno Film Festival. (Trailer)
Who Struggled with the Angel Remains Phosphorescent

Also looking for proof of the soul’s existence in the ways it manifests itself through art, WHO STRUGGLED WITH THE ANGEL REMAINS PHOSPHORESCENT by Riccardo Giacconi submerges the viewer in a deeply meditative atmosphere of inspiration and poetry, which exceeds the power of magic. With a title that urges to reflection, a verse by Maria Luisa Spaziani, the film combines splendid underwater images of sea creatures, ambient noises and the voice-over recital of poetry, so as to re-teach viewers how to see the beauty in neglected things. Poetry resides in all things, in the hypnotic movement of the images, colors and textures, evoking the mysterious appeal of art and inspiration, shown to be true spiritual experiences. (Gabriela Lupu, BIEFF). World premiered in CINEMAXXI, Rome International Film Festival.

Leaving the sphere of the classical arts and moving to that of modern, digital pieces, the next short also looks at artistic expression for insight. Originally, HOWTO, produced by Le Fresnoy - Studio National des Arts Contemporains, is presented to us as a conventional video tutorial, but as the computer program used starts becoming unpredictable, throbbing with autonomy, the film develops into an existential quest for meaning and spirituality. Mixing animation, motion capture and CGI, the tutorial evolves into a dynamic struggle for authority between the program and the author. Closing with a hypnotic contemporary dance full of emotion and poetry, Elisabeth Caravella unfolds a philosophical existential crisis, only to guide us to the conclusion that only by letting go and stop resisting change can you truly find yourself. (Gabriela Lupu, BIEFF)

A lack of control ending in an existential crisis is also a common theme in HKDPGH, a journey on the beach of the subconscious on which waves break as rhythmically as thoughts. A meditative audio-visual collage of film and animation, the short compiles multiple audio poems and the director’s voice-over confessions, exploring the existential turmoil of a person at a crossroads of his life. Like in a lucid dream, the man is aware that he sleeps, but is unable to wake up, deepening in strong symbolic explorations of a black and white dream. Alexandru Petru Bădeliță reveals to us the subconscious, while the subconscious itself buries and digs up memories, dreams and fears in an attempt to reconcile with reality. (Gabriela Lupu, BIEFF)
Via Dolorosa

Struggle remains the keyword when searching for one's soul, this time physical struggle being that which triggers a transcendental experience. Winner of the Dutch Directors Guild Award 2014 and screened in IDFA Amsterdam PARADOCS, VIA DOLOROSA shows an intense catholic ritual, willfully separated from its religious context. Through a subtle montage of short-focused close-ups, Menno Otten captures the emotions of the men as they carry a heavy cross, ultimately revealing pain as a transcendental experience. As the exterior sounds are gradually muted, the beating of the drum sets the pace of the men’s ritualistic stride, their labored breathing unconsciously synchronized in a unitary hum of quiet suffering. Thus, empathy awakened, we are taken on an initiatory journey through cheerfulness, pain, acceptance, peace and finally release. (BIEFF 2014) (Trailer)
The 5th edition of Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival BIEFF will take place between December 10th–14th, 2014, at CinemaPRO and Elvira Popescu Cinema.
BIEFF is honoured and grateful to receive support and inspiration from its partners: Quinzaine des Réalisateurs Cannes, Berlinale Forum Expanded, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Oberhausen Film Festival, IDFA Amsterdam Paradocs, Centre Pompidou, Le Fresnoy - Studio National des Arts Contemporains, CINEDANS - Dance on Screen Festival Amsterdam, Tampere Film Festival, Sixpackfilm Austria and EYE Film Institute Netherlands.
BIEFF would not possible without the support of the Romanian National Cinema Centre, the Romanian Cultural Institute, the National University of Arts Bucharest, the National University of Theatre and Film Bucharest, the French Institute in Bucharest, the Austrian Cultural Forum, Goethe-Institut Bukarest, Czech Centre Bucharest, Balassi Institute, the Italian Cultural Institute "Vito Grasso", Instituto Cervantes, the Rule of Law Program South-East Europe of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Embassy of Sweden, Embassy of Finland, Embassy of Israel, Accion Cultural Española, German Films, Dacia, ABIS Studio, NouMax, Cinelabs, Book4travel, the National Dance Centre Bucharest CNDB, Galateca.
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