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

The Performative Body Confronts Prejudice. A New Series of BIEFF Screenings at MNAC Bucharest

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On Friday, the 25th of August, Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival BIEFF opens a new series of screenings – The Politics Of the Body – at the National Museum of Contemporary Art of Romania – MNAC Bucharest. On the border between cinema and performance, BIEFF invites the audience to reflection and empathy, raising a debate on our preconceived ideas about the human body – its presentation, re-presentation and self-presentation.
 
Under the title The Performative Body, the first screening in the series draws attention to the complex social and political implications of identity, showcasing thought-provoking and empowering films which deal with critical topics – ranging from questioning societal norms of beauty and gender, to the search for personal identity and freedom – together offering a common voice to disenfranchised, politicized minorities. Thus the evening becomes a space for debate, where prejudice is faced head-on, discussed and ultimately dismantled.
 
 
Series curator: Adina Pintilie
Project coordinator: Dan Angelescu
Curatorial text: Diana Mereoiu
Thanks: Romina Banu
Partners: MNAC Bucharest, Sixpackfilm Austria, Agência da Curta Metragem, Fala Português! Association 

Cover photo: The King's Body (João Pedro Rodrigues), courtesy of Agência da Curta Metragem 

BIEFF 2017

Screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, American Reflexxx is an unsettling social experiment pushing the limits between passive voyeurism and active participation. An androgynous presence (Signe Pierce), in a revealing tight blue dress, neon coloured high heels and a mirror-mask, strolls through the city at night, posing provocatively. The performance, documented on camera by Alli Coates, triggers in the passers-by reactions which are growingly stronger and more and more surprising. As the artist's face is a mirror, the aggressive gestures of the spectators are reflected back to the aggressors themselves. Likewise, the film faces us with an uncompromising mirror that reflects the darkest side of mob mentality and the disturbing ease with which it can turn to violence.


Another intriguing dialogue, this time between collective and individual memory, The King’s Body, by multi-awarded Portuguese filmmaker João Pedro Rodrigues – screened at Locarno, Toronto Wavelengths, Curtas Vila do Conde, New York and many others – offers an unexpected view on history. Under the pretext of a casting, several musclemen are invited in front of the camera, to expose their well-built bodies, to read fragments from chronicles about the first king of Portugal and to talk about history, while in their background, footage of the legendary monarch’s statue is projected on a green screen. “Beginning as an investigation into the past, it doesn’t take long for the film to become a portrait of the present, as each of the men describes their lives. The ironic clash between the mythic imagery of the king and these strong yet vulnerable characters is touching, and raises questions about the intersection of history and personal identity.” (Adam Cook, Cinemascope). The film is screened with the kind support of Agência da Curta Metragem.

BIEFF 2017

Deconstructing clichéd representations of the male-female dichotomy, Swedish visual artist Maja Borgexplores in Man the fluid boundary between genders and identities, destabilizing our common perception on maternity and the female body. The mix of super 8mm footage and watercolour-negative animation makes for a poignant and innovative parallel between the body’s ability to create new life and the artist’s ability to create new meaning. 

BIEFF 2017

Privacy publicly exposed is the concern of Florencia Aliberti in (Self)exhibitions, premiered at IDFA Amsterdam. Conceived for a video installation, the film “is a found footage documentary that approaches the new forms of self-representation and exhibition of our intimacy on the internet and in social networks. Confessional and private experiences, turned public and exposed on the web give rise to new self-narratives that become part of a spontaneous circuit of imitations, recurrences and replies between web users, determining the way we show ourselves”. (Festival Scope)

BIEFF 2017

Self-representation is ultimately a deeply private, intimate challenge, as in Two Snakes, by Kristin Li, a personal essay (mix of documentary and animation) of somebody unrooted from the native land, striving to reconcile expat feelings of otherness with fragments of different cultural heritages. Screened at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, the film interprets, deconstructs and rearranges the popular Chinese story of the White Snake and the Green Snake, in search of an identity built from fragments of memories and re-appropriated narratives. Self-deprecating and self-aware, the film ultimately raises a question: can there ever be such a thing as belonging?

BIEFF 2017

A cheeky and whimsical love letter, full of erotism and charm, Flowers and Bottoms by Greek filmmaker Christos Massalas shares the perspective of an anonymous viewer who watches, in a dark room, a film made solely of shots of flowers and buttocks, a melancholic birthday present from what we understand is a former lover. Beyond its assumed absurdity and surrealism, the film skilfully juggles multi-layered observation and exhibitionism, bringing the audience to the blushing realization that what is often publicly labeled as vulgar is what we intimately find sensuous and endearing.