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March 28th – April 2nd, 2017 / Cinema Muzeul Țăranului & Cinema Elvire Popesco / the 7th edition

Humanity in Search of a Soul: BIEFF 2017 International Competition

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True to its consistent focus on experimentation, both at a psycho-emotional level and in terms of cinematic language, BIEFF 2017 International Competition invites the audiences to self-analysis and debate on profound layers of human nature, with its two theme programmes Searching for Transcendence: Spirituality in the Digital Age and Cutting the Cord: Family Love and Its Discontents.
We come to this world attached to a cord. Not just the plain, physical, umbilical cord, but a metaphorical one as well - made of family ties and social strands - with a decisive role in conditioning who we are and what we can be. Exploring human experiences that occur throughout the length of a symbolic umbilical cord, the films in the Cutting the Cord competition programme "explore the profound contradictory nature of our affective bonds, which on one side nourish, protect and support us in our growth, while at the same time can limit our personal freedom and our natural impulse to explore life, through more or less conscious patterns of behaviour and thought deeply ingrained in our psyche.” (Adina Pintilie, curator of the BIEFF selection)
Small Town

Winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlinale Shorts 2017, Diogo Costa Amarante’s Small Town is an endearing cinematic stream of consciousness about that frightful moment when a human being becomes aware of its own mortality. Six-years old Frederico's refusal to go to sleep, after being taught at school that people die when their hearts stop beating, triggers an emotional journey. Protagonists are the boy and his mother, as well as the director himself, who revisits his childhood fears. 
Our Legacy

Also from the Berlinale competition, artists Jonathan Vinel and Caroline Poggi return to BIEFF with their unsettling Our Legacy, musing over sex, love and the Internet, while crossing, in their unique way, the line between video game and digital cinema. With his parents away from home, Lucas invites Anäis over. They are free to indulge in naïve explorations of lovemaking. It soon transpires that Lucas is quite familiar with sex images. His absent father, a notorious director of x-rated videos, exists in his son's life solely through his video productions. The father-son relationship, the violence of crude pornography and the tenderness of teenage first love are bound together by childlike fantasies in a loss-of-innocence story told in reverse. 
I Was a Winner

When the family fails to satisfy basic psychological needs, computer games may step in, offering - albeit only in a virtual version - rewards, freedom and a connection to other individuals sharing the same interests. Escaping occasionally to some parallel world and morphing into a daring, powerful and highly self-confident hero can be comforting. Yet, refusing to return to real life spells destructive dependence. A favourite of international film festivals in 2017 - being presented, among others, in the competitions of Clermont-Ferrand, Tribeca, Göteborg, Palm Springs, Uppsala - I Was a Winner, by Jonas Odell, follows the personal narratives of three people who have experienced computer game addiction. Under the shape of their avatars and wandering through the landscape of their respective games, the characters tell uncanny stories of the struggle to break free from the virtual world. The film is presented at BIEFF with the support of the Swedish Film Institute and the Embassy of Sweden in Romania.

The complete curatorial presentations of the films, written by Adina Marin, are available here.
All throughout mankind’s evolutionary leaps, the restless search for meaning stays at the core of human condition. Our soul strives to experience what lies beyond the veil, to come face to face with that which exists outside of our Cartesian reality. The films within the theme program Searching for Transcendence exist precisely in that liminal realm which connects us to the metaphysical, via direct or recollected experiences.
489 Years

A 3D computer animated rendition of a South Korean soldier’s patrol along the country’s demilitarized border (DMZ) with North Korea, 489 Years, by Hayoun Kwon - winner of the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury of the legendary Oberhausen International Short Film Festival - deals with the (im)possibility of representing and experiencing the liminal space of borders - as limits dividing more than simple geographies. With photo-realistic accuracy of CGI and the vivid imagery of storytelling, the narrator walks us through his routine path along the DMZ under the cloak of darkness and growing tension at the unseen enemy. Until a moment of terror strikes him still, becoming an instant of serendipity and wonder, of experiencing beauty in the least likely of places.
If It Was

Winner of two Oberhausen awards, If It Was is a lo-fi intervention of Laure Prouvost’s playful and childlike subconscious into the museum space. The artist, holder of the prestigious Turner Prize, reimagined here the museum as a landscape for the visitor to give in to his/her impulses and desires. This democratization is rendered through a montage of free-association and haptic visuals, where inventiveness and mischievousness smooth out architectural corners, bring zumba lessons in the museum and touching is encouraged. This deceivingly simple whirlwind of art-naif takes us to the backstage of artistic creation, giving enough rope to cerebrally and sensorially play with. The film is presented with the support of British distributor LUX - Moving Image.

Subtle and assured, Konstantina Kotzamani’s award-winning Limbo - world premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in Semaine de la Critique - is a meditative fable of Biblical resonance that operates at the outer fringes of reality. It introduces us to the shared camaraderie of a group of twelve young boys living among a floating marsh-land village, their daily wanderings and play-fighting. Raised under the observant eye of religion and unseen adults, the kids’ blossoming imagination grows wilder with the arrival of a mysterious young boy and rumours of a beached whale. Fueled by the bayou’s pregnant atmosphere of superstition, they devise a plan to sacrifice the newcomer as their offering to the mammalian deity. What they witness instead will carry them past the threshold of adolescence, the universe and reality as they know it, giving them a glimpse into the divine.
Fiesta Forever

Welcome to Jorge Jácome’s Fiesta Forever, a virtual moon-lit stroll through the post-clubbing landscape haunted by the spectral memories of nightlife experiences. Visiting the computer-generated ruined terrain of four clubs, we move freely within their walls which can talk, reminiscing about declarations of love, furtive glances and fleeting emotions, pick-up strategies and fateful meetings between soulmates. This sacred ground of the party becomes both a space of solitary refuge and of social gathering and human connection, marked by the experience of its past inhabitants. By sunrise, all that remains of it is but a fleeting memory, floating in the realm of humanity’s search for bliss.

Critical Mass: Pure Immanence

What lies between that euphoric before-and-after of the collective ritual of the dancefloor ‘drop’? Anne de Vries looks for the answer, in a high-octane visual and cerebral assault that brings academia to the dancefloor in an exquisitely fitting pairing of Deleuzian theory and hard-trance. Using CGI and cut-up footage of the lavish spectacle that are electronic dance music (EDM) festivals, De Vries overlaps disembodied (organic and artificial) narrations reciting dictums inspired from Gilles Deleuze’s work. Preaching for the recognition of the amorphous unification of crowds as a collective experience of the sublime, Critical Mass: Pure Immanence becomes a rallying call for dancefloor transcendence, a Deleuzian take on rave-culture’s P.L.U.R. mantra (Peace.Love.Unity.Respect).

The complete curatorial presentations of the films, written by Andrei Tănăsescu, are available here.

The 7th edition of the Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival BIEFF is organized by Manekino Cultural Association in partnership with PRINTOR COM and Film Monitor Association.
BIEFF is honoured and grateful to receive support and inspiration from its partners: Quinzaine des Réalisateurs – Cannes Film Festival, Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art Berlin, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Cinedans – Dance on Screen Festival Amsterdam, Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, IDFA International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, Tampere Film Festival, Centre Pompidou, Le Fresnoy – Studio National des Arts Contemporains, EYE Film Institute Netherlands, Swedish Film Institute, Norwegian Film Institute, Le Pacte, The Match Factory, Sixpackfilm Austria, LIMA, LUX, Portugal Film, Agência – Portuguese Short Film Agency, Winnipeg Film Group, Swiss Films, AV-arkki, Marvin & Wayne, Some Shorts, Autour de Minuit, NISI MASA – European Network of Young Cinema, MUBI.
BIEFF would not be possible without the support of the Administration of the National Cultural Fund, Romanian National Film Center, Romanian Cultural Institute, Romanian Filmmakers's Union, National Museum of the Romanian Peasant, Embassy of France, French Institute, Goethe-Institut, Austrian Cultural Forum, Swiss Sponsors’ Fund, Embassy of Switzerland, Embassy of Sweden, Wallonia-Brussels Delegation, Italian Cultural Institute, Greek Cultural Foundation, National University of Theatre and Film Bucharest, National University of Arts Bucharest, Cinelab România, NouMax, MDV Studio, Aqua Carpatica, Domeniile Sâmburești, Hotel Venezia, Journey Pub, Lente, Sky Tour, DHL, Canopy, ZeList Monitor, Eventbook.
Media partners: Radio Guerrilla, Radio România Cultural, Agerpres, HotNews, Cinemagia, Zile și Nopți, Cinemap, Brrlog, Scena9, Decât o Revistă, Observator Cultural, Revista ARTA, Revista Zeppelin, Liternet, Ziarul Metropolis, Ziare.com, IQads, ART7, SUB25, Think Outside the Box, All About Romanian Cinema, Acoperișul de sticlă, Dissolved Magazine, The re:art, A List Magazine, Glamour România, Bucharest City App, Film New Europe.