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English translation unavailable for 2016.
Directed by: 
LEONOR TELES
'Once upon a time, before people came along, all the creatures were free and able to be with one another', narrates the voiceover. 'All the animals danced together and were immeasurably happy. There was only one who wasn’t invited to the celebration – the frog. In his rage about the injustice, he committed suicide.' Something Romani and frogs have in common is that they will never be unseen, or stay unnoticed. In her film, young director Leonor Teles weaves the life circumstance of Romani in Portugal today with the recollections of a yesterday. Anything but a passive observer, Teles consciously decides to participate and take up position. As a third pillar, she establishes an active applied performance art that becomes integrated in the cinematic narrative. Thereby transforming 'once upon a time' into 'there is'. 'Afterwards, nothing will be as it was and the melody of life will have changed', explains a voice off-camera. (Berlinale)
Directed by: 
ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY
The second in the artist's proposed cycle of five cinematic memoirs (the first was The Dance of Reality, screened at BIEFF 2014 in a Special Jodorowsky Focus Programme), Endless Poetry portrays Alejandro Jodorowsky’s young adulthood, set in the 1940s and 50s, in the electric capital city of Santiago. There, he decides to become a poet and is introduced, by destiny, into the foremost bohemian and artistic circle of the time. He meets Enrique Lihn, Stella Diaz Varín, Nicanor Parra and many others of the country’s young, promising and unknown artists who would later become the titans of Latin America's literature. Endless Poetry is a tale of poetic experimentation; the story of a unique youth that lived as not many before them had dared: sensually, authentically, freely, madly.
 
"Now, well into his 80s, Jodorowsky has managed to reinvent himself in the most spectacular and unlikely way. Endless Poetry is a work of transporting charm and feeling. It’s the most accessible movie the director has ever made, and it may also be the best." (Owen Gleiberman, Variety)
 
"Cult filmmaker and psychomagic ‘guru’ Alejandro Jodorowsky lives up to his reputation with Endless Poetry, a film that crosses over the border from surrealism to action without ever deviating from his central thread, and speaks to people who are new to symbolism just as well as it does to the crowd that is well-versed in the structures and strange characters it produces." (Fabien Lemercier, Cineuropa)
 
"Alejandro Jodorowsky has found a terrific new surge of energy in his 80s with a richly enjoyable autobiographical movie trilogy, as crazy as a laudanum dream." (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)
Directed by: 
HAYOUN KWON
A 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, deals with the (im)possibility of representing and experiencing the liminal space of borders - as limits dividing more than simple geographies. Employing a gamer’s FPS (first-person-shooter) perspective, 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. (Andrei Tănăsescu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
GABRIEL ABRANTES
Ever the provocateur, leave it to Gabriel Abrantes to make a tongue-in-cheek phallic story about Constantin Brâncuși’s sculpture Princess X. A Brief History of Princess X is precisely that: a cursory, episodic chronicle of Brâncuși’s (in)famous, work and the erotically-charged narrative threads that tie together its inception in Brâncuși’s atelier, its model (Princess Marie Bonaparte), the latter’s revolutionary studies in female sexuality and ultimately, the sculpture’s placement - and engagement with - in museums. If cinema operates as a canvas for our projected desires, the abstinence observed in Abrantes’ typically subversive, juvenile humour is a poignant, humble tribute to the human frailty that all art hides behind its courageous surface. (Andrei Tănăsescu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
RONNY TROCKER
A beach frozen in time, as if in a snapshot: people enjoying the sun, a child eating ice-cream, a father taking his picture. But in the frame another character appears. Laboriously making their way out of the waters, a group of refugees crawl to the uncertain safety of the beach, escaping from near-certain death. Premiered at the Berlinale 2016 and inspired by a photograph by Juan Medina, Summer is an ingenious and sharp political commentary on the ongoing humanitarian crisis. By mixing 3D modelling and 16mm footage, it contrasts stasis and movement, moment and duration and reveals how liberating having your struggles acknowledged is and, conversely, how limiting photographs are in telling the stories we so readily consume. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
MANON COUBIA
Juliet's fate might have been crueller still, had she not been able to see dead Romeo with her own eyes. This what-if scenario is a plausible introduction to Manon Coubia’s cinematic impression of a forlorn life. A woman has spent most of her lifetime waiting for the eternal snows to melt and return the body of her husband, a mountain climber who had died in an accident during an ascent of the Mont Blanc. Under the gaze of the camera, creased bed sheets, complemented by the sound of wind, turn into mountains covered in snow. The wife lies on her bed perpetually, her dreams of the passing of seasons shown in accelerated time-lapse. With its temporal perambulation through times gone by and states of the soul, The Fullness of Time (Romance) is fundamentally a film about eternal love and about the endless power of cinema to get to the deepest core of human experience. (Ioana Florescu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
CLEMENS VON WEDEMEYER
Set in the near-future of a dystopian metropolis, ESIOD 2015 is a lyrical envisioning of an impending financial singularity, where a centralized commodification has monetized everything, from urban spaces, social structures to ultimately, our collective memory. Greeted by the quiet sterility of modern architecture and disembodied voices, the film’s protagonist enters the city’s downtown sprawl with wide-eyed wonder. Passing through this socially-hostile urban babylon and its ghettoizing checkpoints, she reaches her destination: the banking headquarters of society’s stored data, finances and memories. Inside, as the institution’s virtual manager guides her access to the account, body turns performative and shared memory and history dissolve in virtual pointilism. Beneath her expressive emotions lies a deeper secret, hidden away from the singularity’s algorithms - an intended subversion meant to bring about the revolution from within. (Andrei Tănăsescu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
ALEXANDRU PETRU BĂDELIȚĂ
In an exercise of self-exorcism, Alexandru Petru Bădeliță gives a moving personal account of his traumatized childhood with a rich profusion of narrative layers and artistic techniques. I Made You, I Kill You, which translates - literally - in the power of life and death the paterfamilias holds over the members of his family, is the ultimate motto for the patriarchal society that rules the life of the author's native village. A collage of family photos and children's drawings mix with animation and with a touch of surrealism in an arresting cinematic whole. Voice-overs take turns and complete the grim picture of a childhood dominated by domestic violence. As in reverberation, the father's account tells of beatings and abuse he had suffered himself as a child, which leads to the dispassionate conclusion that he is not a monster; he simply has no knowledge of another way of life. I Made You, I Kill You casts a poignant uncompromising look at a disturbing world where such experiences are not the exception, but the norm. (Adina Marin, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
MAJA BORG
“A word is not a simple and separate entity but part of other words”, says Virginia Woolf in her last known recording, as used in Man by Maja Borg. Since language creates the reality it describes, then no aspect of reality “is a simple and separate entity”. Intelligently playing with this notion, the director re-enacts cliché depictions of manliness while pregnant, thus bleeding dry of their initial connotations the images and the stereotypical ideas they represent. 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 to the artist’s ability to create new meaning. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
LUIZA PÂRVU & TOMA PEIU
Drawing on Albert Camus’ eponymous text, Luiza Pârvu and Toma Peiu’s Sisyphus 2.0 is a visual compendium of humanity’s search for meaning. Made of real surveillance footage, the film assumes its perspective’s omniscience, beginning as a series of quotidian assemblages of ‘a day in a life’ of the global citizens, embraced by a voice-over retelling of the Sisyphus myth. With deep humanism and sensibility, Pârvu and Peiu question the meaning of the search, as man-made violence and natural cataclysms - the other side of humanity’s essential creative impulse - jolt the daily existence of the surveilled humans. In the end, faith overcomes fatalism, the search becomes the meaning itself, and the film’s closing, noble gesture, cradles us to the lullaby of hope. (Andrei Tănăsescu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
ROY VILLEVOYE & JAN DIETVORST
Documenting the production - in a Dutch studio - of a lifelike statue portraying a white, middle-aged man and then moving somehow unexpectedly to interviews on location with Asmat people of Papua New Guinea, The Double deals with the process of fabrication - of the individual and of its representation - in its double meaning. While we witness the disturbingly accurate physical construction of the statue, voice-overs offer divergent narratives regarding the identity and the personality of its muse. Through their various degrees of fabrication, rather than revealing, these sometimes contradicting perspectives preserve the mystery around who this man really was. The Double thus questions the very possibility of actually ever grasping the true essence of a human being, therefore inquiring in an ingenious way into the relationship between cultures, between us and them, as part of the artists’ longtime interest in post-colonialism. (Ioana Florescu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
JUANJO GIMÉNEZ
Though the first shots might mislead us into expecting a realistic workplace drama or a stale thriller, Oscar nominee Timecode switches tonality early enough to avoid becoming either. Diego and Luna, who take shifts as security guards in a parking's surveillance room, find a way to evade their insipid tasks when Luna accidentally comes across security footage showing her night shift colleague Diego dancing in the empty parking lot. Inspired by the discovery, she leaves him in return a recording of her own dance. The surreptitious choreographic dialogue builds up to a moment of encounter, when their gracefully harmonized movements become a statement of freeing from boredom, alienation and constraints. Juanjo Giménez cleverly employs a surprising twist of perception by turning one-way directed prying surveillance cameras into instruments of communication and of liberation, implying that people can create spaces for the fulfilment of their spiritual needs in the most hostile of places. (Ioana Florescu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
KEINA ESPIÑEIRA
Reality and fiction intermingle in We All Love the Seashore, a hybrid documentary nominated for the European Film Awards that tells the story of a group of refugees stuck in-between borders. Adopting the refreshing perspective of immigrants as co-creators rather than characters in a story, the director explores the idea of imposed narratives and fictional boundaries. Hypnotic images of the sea confer an allure of poetic unreality to the cinematic experience. Myths of the colonial past intertwine with daily conversation and aspirations for the future in a short film like a balancing act between the candid and the esoteric. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
VINCENT MEESSEN
Focusing on the concept of national representation, One.Two.Three "revisits the largely unknown role of Congolese intellectuals within the Situationist International movement. Used as an experimental space for the rendition of a protest song that the Congolese situationist M’Belolo Ya M’Piku composed in may '68, the mythical 'Un.Deux.Trois' rumba club in Kinshasa becomes an echo chamber for the impasses of history. [...] While the lost song is being rediscovered, popular uprisings break out in Kinshasa just outside of the walls of the rumba club. In spite of the cycle of violence and the militarization of everyday life, a space is created for play, polyphony and dance. [...] The rendition that matters here is perhaps less the recovery of the song than the rendition of emancipation itself, which, irresolute by nature, remains condemned to an ‘untimely repetition’." (Jubilee-art.org)
Directed by: 
MARCELO MARTINESSI
Dealing, like many of Marcelo Martinessi’s previous films, with the recent history of Paraguay, The Lost Voice is based on original interviews about the 2012 Curuguaty massacre which triggered political chaos and the removal of the acting president. The hand-held camera follows an old woman with a heavily creased face of awe-inspiring beauty through her daily chores. She is the mother of one of the victims. During her spoken recollections, the screen turns black as if showing respect, and the radio broadcast from the time of the massacre, a constant background sound throughout the film, cuts out. Shifting between speech and image and almost never allowing them to sync, the film evades the conventional interview format and functions much as memory itself, fragmentary and abounding in blind spots. The massacre itself is openly suggested only in one shaky shot of the frantic movements of panic-stricken chickens with gunshot sounds from the radio in the background. The rest is about the frightening calm after an - emotional and political - storm. (Ioana Florescu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
SEBASTIAN MEZ
Director Sebastian Mez returns to BIEFF with Remains from the Desert, the chilling tale of a young Eritrean refugee captured, tortured and mutilated for money. As a sober voice over recounts the horrors lived, black and white close ups of the thrashed body intertwine with images of the desert where it all took place. Despite all the marks carrying the remembrance of what has happened, the breath-taking landscape remains impassible and unscathed. In the end, the short film recognizes the futility of trying to find logic in the senselessness of torture. The only solace to be found is the notion that human memory is as fragile as the body, and that bit by bit all will be forgotten. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2017) 
Directed by: 
DIOGO COSTA AMARANTE
The Golden Bear winner of the Berlinale Shorts 2017, 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. The sensations they experience make a mix of horror and tenderness translated into film language by means of a highly intelligent emotional montage. "I suppose he is beginning to understand human interaction", Frederico's mother reckons. "How to shape himself to forge the world around him". It's something we all have to do, with every step that drifts us away from the safety of the womb. (Adina Marin, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
CHRISTOS MASSALAS
Cheeky and whimsical, Flowers and Bottoms relies on the charmingly nonsensical in order to relax the audience into enjoying what is ultimately an erotic and delightful love letter. In a dark room, an anonymous viewer watches a film made solely with 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. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
ISMAÏL BAHRI
In Foyer, art takes to the streets, as Ismaïl Bahri walks through Tunis with his camera, capturing the city and its inhabitants. The subversive element of this artistic travelogue lies precisely in the white piece of paper that obscures the lens, creating in effect an unexpected representation of reality, which changes in shade and tone according to the whimsy of the wind. Bahri’s barrier-curtain invites new discourse on ways of seeing, in effect offering new take on Plato’s cave, where the screen becomes the agora of ideas and opinions and everything from art to economy and politics come under debate. Simplicity is beauty, and in Foyer’s case, poetry as well, for what is more powerful than seeing our world compressed onscreen in its purest form, as light waves blend together onto cinema’s canvas to form an abstract-yet-so-familiar representation of reality? (Andrei Tănăsescu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
KONSTANTINA KOTZAMANI
Subtle and assured, Konstantina Kotzamani’s award-winning Limbo 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 playfighting. 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. (Andrei Tănăsescu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
FLOOR VAN DER MEULEN, THOMAS VROEGE, ISSA TOUMA
Raw footage shot from a window, hastily made photographs and a voice over narration reconstructed post-factum from diary notes paint a gruelling picture of a war in first person. Awarded the Best Short Film Prize by the European Film Academy, 9 Days  From My Window in Aleppo is a harrowing documentary that counters the romanticized view on the Syrian Civil War as presented by the Western press. Through minimalistic means, Syrian photographer Issa Touma, at the same time filming and being filmed, shows how a warfare becomes an integral part of the normalcy of everyday life. As gunshots rattle freely from the window, art becomes the only remaining survival mechanism. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
JORGE JÁCOME
Welcome to Jorge Jácome’s Fiesta Forever, a virtual moon-lit stroll through the post-clubbing landscape haunted by spectral memories of nightlife experiences. Visiting the computer-generated ruined terrain of four clubs, we move freely within their walls, bathed in their abandoned tranquility. These walls 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. What we bring, leave behind or take away, as viewers, is entirely up to us. Because by the time the sun comes up, all that remains of it is but a fleeting memory, floating in the realm of humanity’s search for bliss. (Andrei Tănăsescu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
RINO STEFANO TAGLIAFIERRO
Fingers languorously part the lips of book pages, the straps of dresses fall off of milky skins, sensuous gazes entice the viewer in a sensual act of artistic voyeurism. Rino Stefano Tagliafierro returns to BIEFF with Peep Show, animating classical paintings as in his previous Beauty, this time narrowing his focus on the sensorial pleasures of erotic art. Balancing between the suggestive and the explicit in this mesmerizing homage to the history of art, the director explores sensuality across time and cultures, masterfully building and releasing the pleasurable tension of voyeurism. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2017)