March 14th–20th, 2016 / Cinema Muzeul Țăranului, Cinema Elvire Popesco, Universitatea Națională de Muzică / the 6th edition
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International Competition - Transgressive Bodies
Curatorial presentation by Andrei Tănăsescu
Serving as conduit, the body parses sensory affectations to better interact, understand and exist in the world that surrounds us. Yet its dependability and robustness hide a fragility that can easily alter the socially-accepted function of said corpus. Be they cultural, sexual, economic or psychological, the limitations imposed on it push it off-course, manifesting normative transgressions that require our full attention. Regardless whether these defiances are to be celebrated or vilified, their acceptance should be recognized as part of our human nature. As such, the competitional BIEFF 2016 section Transgressive Bodies compiles five films that push the boundaries of the body and its cinematographic representation. Mixing genre film, video art, documentary and activist forms, the selection threads themes of memory, sexuality, rivalry and childhood through actual or hypothesized conditions of the body.
Bertrand Mandico returns to BIEFF with another tale of the psycho-sexual bizarre, the aptly titled Our Lady of Hormones. Shot in textured Super 16mm and bursting with the artistic glee of a passionate genre cinephile, Mandico’s film employs rear-projection, stunning technicolour and a lively, and decadent mise-en-scene to tell the erotic story of rivalry between two actresses who become obsessed by a living-and-breathing, hairy lump of meat. A veritable surreal experience which genre-hops through comedy, suspense and horror, Our Lady of Hormones is a cautionary tale of human nature’s impotence of domesticating the very (primal) impulses we desire.
Renowned Romanian artist Călin Dan marks his return to the Festival with Still Life, Poire Gelée, a meditative companion-piece to his 2012 film Still Life, 20th C. Where the former film operated within the tradition of fiction and documentary cinema, Still Life, Poire Gelée goes deeper within the conceptual realm of video-art. Ideas of architectural form, memory and maternal lineage all congeal in the symbolic life-cycle depicted the gradual build-up and eventual erosion of a mound of white powder. Beneath it all, lies the female form, tranquil and contemplative, pulsating to the rhythm of life within the granules of time.
Working at the threshold of documentary, diary and essayistic cinema, Antoinette Zwirchmayr’s The Pimp and His Trophies is an oneiric recall of the director’s childhood memories of her grandfather - one of Salzburg’s most infamous pimps. Beautifully shot on 35mm and exuding the claustrophobic ambience of conflicting memories, the film employs archival photographs and atmospheric shots of the brothel’s plush interiors as associative stopgaps for the voiceover narrations. At the center of it all lies a structuring absence enveloping the corporeal spectres of the family’s illicit business. Hearing of the grandfather’s love for hunting, the titular mementos take on a new life, materializing from the limbo-state of memory through the process of cinematic reflection.
Pedophilia - a taboo that elicits immediate and unshaken aversion, but what if you were the one afflicted by it? Guido Hendrikx’s Among Us takes us through the confessions of three highly-educated, closeted pedophiles, as they describe their history of discovery, repression and (impossible?) reconciliation with this affliction. Hendrikx captures the poetic bliss and dizzying confusion of the three subjects’ self-confessed trigger of visualization by focusing on the black-and-white cinematography’s greyscale palette. Never exploitative or sensationalistic in dealing with the unsettling dimension of its subject, Among Us operates as a non-judgemental platform for the avowal of repression’s life-long trauma.
With YOU ARE BORING!, Vika Kirchenbauer delivers a steady but assured wake-up slap in the face to our repressed, closeted spirit. Through soothing and beckoning direct-address, a choir of people take turns addressing the camera, looking for (you!) the patient, passive, pent-up viewer. Their aim? To sell you, through stiff-and-stuffy yet campily nonchalant rhetoric, their performative bodies of difference and vicarious experience for your personal fantasy wish-fulfillment. Wonderfully subversive and confrontational, YOU ARE BORING! forces us to take a long, hard look at our inner (prudish) limits, while pondering the outer ramifications of our cultural hegemony’s 'consumption of difference'. Rather than a jolt, the film leaves us with a warm, embraceful slap to our normative society's politics of representation.