Films

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37º4 S (12', France, 2013)

Director: ADRIANO VALERIO

Winner of a Special Jury Mention at Cannes 2013, 37º4 Sspeaks about growing-up and the illusions first love entails, as well as about the notion of home and uprooting. In a lyrical cinematographic style with documentary elements, the story is set on a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean, inhabited by only 270 people. Two of them, the teenagers Nick and Anne, have been together for as long as they can remember. But Anne has to leave now for boarding school in London, which shakes the boy’s entire world. Her decision makes his present time blend with beautiful memories of the past and questions without answer related to an uncertain future.



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A BRIEF CRACK OF LIGHT (5', The Netherlands, 2012)

Director: VERA HOLLAND, SALIH KILIC, TED ALKEMADE

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Started as a scientific research and experiment, A BRIEF CRACK OF LIGHT became a short film about the inextricable relation between life, art and nature. Shot with a high-speed camera and in full color, the film reveals new insights on the human body and gestures, emphasizing the idea that sometimes the beauty of the moment is the one that counts the most. Can you tell a love story through dance? That’s what the directors are trying to find out. (Teodora Cașcarade, BIEFF 2013) 



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A RADIANT LIFE (17', France, 2013)

Director: MERYLL HARDT

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An unsettling retro science-fiction film, A RADIANT LIFE explores the grim side of Le Corbusier’s utopic visions of the ideal city. In a masterful blend of archive materials, choreography and fiction, MERYLL HARDT examines the alienation raising when the need for geometrical harmony of space overshadows the need for human warmth. The coldness of the concrete sneaks into the character’s lives, while the sterility of the house becomes a sterility of human relationships. The radiant city proves unable to support life. The living space turns from home into a concrete cage. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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A STORY FOR THE MODLINS (26', Spain, 2012)

Director: SERGIO OKSMAN

At the border between fiction and documentary, A STORY FOR THE MODLINS, the audience sweetheart and winner of the Grand Prix at Clermont-Ferrand 2012, tells the eccentric and touching story of Elmer Modlin. You probably never heard of him and it’s no wonder – the climax of his acting career was a few seconds as an extra in Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby. His creative life full of frustrations, amounting to a heap of photos, letters and videotapes left in the dumpster, accidentally lands in the hands of OKSMAN, who pieces them together to reconstruct his story. An impressive sample of creative repurposing of found footage, the film reveals human life as a concoction of chance, passion and hard work in unknown proportions, with questions of destiny and free-will inevitably arising.



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ANDY WARHOL TRIBUTE (6', Romania, 2013)

Director: BARNA NÉMETHI & VLAD FENEȘAN

A postmodernist remake of two emblematic videos featuring Andy Warhol, a warholian monosyllabic interview on pop art and Andy Warhol Eating a Hamburger, BARNA NÉMETHI's and VLAD FENEȘAN's ANDY WARHOL TRIBUTE takes a look at the artist’s persona, also hinting at a few of his highly influential silk screening prints and recreating characters – such as those played by one of his muses, Edie Sedwick – or quoting his screen tests and other films. Warhol comes back to life with the help of actress Laura Cosoi, androgynously dressed, so as to tell us once more: If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it. Ironically, Andy Warhol himself has become an object of artistic consumption, now quoted. (Oana Ghera, BIEFF 2013)



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AS THE FLAMES ROSE (27', Portugal, 2012)

Director: JOÃO RUI GUERRA DA MATA

A conceptually innovative film of great emotional power, AS THE FLAMES ROSE draws an intriguing parallel between the burning of Lisbon and the ending of a love relationship. While the town is on fire, a man (played by the charismatic João Pedro Rodrigues) receives an unexpected phone call and flames from his past burst through his bedroom, suffocating his life. Playing with influences from expressionism and melodrama, in a surprising mix of fiction and documentary, the film creates an impressive relationship between human body and space, through an elaborate mise-en-scene and a remarkable use of chiaroscuro lighting and projected images. This way it succeeds, with just one character, in a single space, to create an entire inner world, the room walls, the objects, the skin becoming a landscape of powerful human emotions. (BIEFF 2013)



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ASK THE RIVER, ASK THE TREE (5', Moldova, 2013)

Director: MITOȘ MICLEUȘANU

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ASK THE RIVER, ASK THE TREE is a short video experiment which deciphers a blackbird’s trill from a conceptual point of view. The bird is filmed between twigs and tree leaves from two different angles. Its every twitter is then desciphered though the subtitle, in the director’s creative attempt to think from its point of view and voice the bird’s thoughts. The effect is both surprising and amusing by virtue of the imaginative monologue set up for the spectator. The blackbird critiques the side effects of rationality on humanity and the environment, and apparently proposes an insightful understanding that pulsates with infinity and nature. (Luciana Dumitru, BIEFF 2013)



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AUTION (6', The Netherlands / Greece, 2012)

Director: ANDREAS HANNES

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AUTION is a video installation that explores the artistic possibilities of physicality and our perception of it. The naked skin of a man and a woman becomes the screening canvas for a recording of two dancers' (maybe the same man/woman) rehearsals. A lyrical investigation of the cinematic medium, with a granular texture, in which bidimensional images overlay bodies defined through volume. The title, AUTION, is also the result of a mix, being a made-up word from audio+motion. The visual level, where dance is approached as a means of bodily expression, is synched with a minimalist soundtrack, reminiscent of musique concrete. (Mihai Teodor & Andreea Mihalcea, BIEFF 2013)



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AWAKEN THEE, ROMANIAN! (1', Romania, 2012)

Director: ALEX GÂLMEANU

AWAKEN THEE, ROMANIAN! is an audio-video experiment which, through minimal means, manages to hint at a whole world of complex implications and tension in the historical relationship between Russia and Romania. On a black screen, placed in front of a blurred still image, the beginning lyrics of the Romanian anthem unfold. In parallel, a voice reads it aloud. But the reading is distorted not only by a Russian accent, but by obviously not knowing to read Romanian. The text is instead pronounced by the Google Translate robot, as it would be written in Russian. The dissonance is created by placing the authority of one language upon the other. This raises questions about the Russian imperialist cultural influence, and, in the context of the national anthem, it is politically suggestive. (Luciana Dumitru, BIEFF 2013)



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BECOMING (10', Romania, 2013)

Director: VLAD FENEŞAN

Glam meets medieval sorcery in BECOMING, a short film of sharp contrasts, that reinvents the silent film aesthetics following the principles of fashion cinema. With a stylized story, divided into five chapters, the film is a reinterpretation of the incubus myth, and follows the awakening of a beautiful witch, who is possessed by an obscure force. Prophecies, cryptic messages and a haunting soundtrack add to the hypnotic atmosphere of this futuristic sci-fi performance, where the minimalist set design and animation contrast with the baroque costumes, in an enigmatic story about envy and lust. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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BUFFALO DEATH MASK (23', Canada, 2013)

Director: MIKE HOOLBOOM

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Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at Oberhausen 2013, BUFFALO DEATH MASK is a poetic diary film, “a visual, oral and tactile meditation, both campy and ecstatic, on survival, mourning, memory, love and community. A conversation between HOOLBOOM and visual artist Stephen Andrews, both long time survivors of the HIV retrovirus, floats over what seems to be a dream of Toronto and some of its ghosts. A personal voice documenting and piercing the clichéd spectrum of Living With AIDS, from carnal abjection to incandescent spirituality.” (Tom Waugh) “A striking, warm film, on how losing the ones you love is also losing part of yourself.” (Oberhausen Jury Statement)



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BUTTER LAMP (16', France / China, 2013)

Director: HU WEI

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World premiered in Cannes Critics' Week 2013, the conceptual experiment BUTTER LAMP is an intriguing investigation on cultural identity issues. Starting from a practice still popular in China, at the border between fiction and documentary, the film witnesses a photo shoot, where a photographer takes family pictures of several Tibetans, including a large nomadic family, against landmark backgrounds: the Great Wall of China, Disneyland, Beijing’s Olympic Stadium, a Hawaiian beach etc. Cleverly exploring the visual relation between foreground and background, BUTTER LAMP gets a significant socio-political charge. It becomes a subtle commentary on the abusive assimilation of Tibetan culture by China and the Western world, the Tibetans being forced to fight from a peripheral position to preserve their identity. (Andreea Mihalcea, BIEFF 2013)



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COME AND PLAY (30', Germany, 2013)

Director: DARIA BELOVA

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A film in which the boundaries between past and present, real and surreal become blurred, COME AND PLAY “portrays the spirit that lies within Berlin's walls and the echoes of its long memory. In a stunning black-and-white photography, the story follows Grisha, a Russian-German child, who, carried by his imagination, reveals the city's sad secrets. In a similar vein to Ivan’s Childhood and Germany Year Zero, the boy's playing at war, sliding into surrealism, reminds humanity of its gaping wounds.” (Fabien Gaffez, Critics' Week Cannes 2013)



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CONTINUITY (41', Germany, 2012)

Director: OMER FAST

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An intriguing view on the psychological process of mourning, the unsettling CONTINUITY is a bizarre story that boldly defies the conventional narrative coherence. What seems like a young soldier’s return home from Afghanistan proves to be a ritual staged by his parents, who hire a series of male escorts to play the part of their son – who had actually died in combat – in a painful attempt to keep alive the memory of their deceased child. A touching tale about the difficulty to overcome the loss of loved ones, CONTINUITY is also an intelligent investigation on the complex relationship between fiction and reality, both in personal life and in cinema. (BIEFF 2013)



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DA VINCI (25', Italy, 2012)

Director: YURI ANCARANI

DA VINCI is an exceptional cinematic take on the amazing world of the modern operating theatre, in which the patient seems to have only a small part as all eyes are on the monitor. The final part of YURI ANCARANI’s trilogy is set in an operating theatre where a fabulous journey through the human body is undertaken by robot arms, with the surgeon at the joystick. Science fiction-like, it is reminiscent of Richard Fleischer's Fantastic Voyage. ANCARANI captures the whole operation with minute precision, beautifully lit, like a dazzling choreography, accompanied by an exciting soundtrack.” (Rotterdam Film Festival 2013)



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DAD’S STICK (5', UK, 2012)

Director: JOHN SMITH

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Focusing on three ambiguous, nearly-unrecognizable pieces of personal memorabilia that belonged to JOHN SMITH’s father, and on the events relating to their history, DAD’S STICK becomes a personal documentary that seeks to revive the past and create a portrait of their former owner. Explanatory subtitles replace the use of dialogue, and in so-doing, turn the vividly-coloured images into postcards from another time. These artefacts become time capsules, testaments of different eras of family history that explore the contradictions of memory, while hinting at the character of JOHN SMITH’S father.



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EGON (9', The Netherlands, 2013)

Director: MICHIEL VAN JAARSVELD

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Symptoms of influenza make the last days in the life of the Austrian painter Egon Schiele (EGON) seem to be played out beyond the confines of a set time and space. His stylized portraits come to live and edge him further towards death. This brings his characteristic work to life in a romantic, but also raw and merciless way. Played out on melancholy tunes, the black and white reality gives way to a feverish dream, in which powerful, expressive movements explore the boundary between beauty and eroticism on the one hand, and decay and perversity on the other. (Netherlands Film Festival)



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EMPIRE: MIGRANTS (22', The Netherlands, 2012)

Director: ELINE JONGSMA & KEL O’NEILL

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Part of a larger cross-media research project in progress, EMPIRE: MIGRANTS is an experimental documentary that explores, through a multi-split screen, the controversial historical time frame of colonialism and slave trade, which have influenced the present lives of some communities from Ghana, Suriname and Brazil. A nuanced visual essay on the relation between ethnicity, uprooting and relocating, that brings together contradictory perspectives on the effects of Dutch colonialism. Positively reviewed by magazines such as Variety or VICE, the film is a provocative mix of documentary, visual art and journalism. (Andreea Mihalcea, BIEFF 2013)



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FORST (10', Germany, 2013)

Director: ULU BRAUN

In FORST, at the border between reality and imagination, the forest becomes a magical space. The film materializes the surreal fantasy of dreams in a surprising video-collage, that deliberately exposes its conventions. A woman jogs naked on a running track flanked by gravestones. A couple of dancers levitates above the surface of a lake, while an ethereal deer evaporates through the trees. In a natural amphitheatre, politicians stiffly applaud, from their chairs, a girl sleeping on the stage. All these happen in the usually so familiar, for all of us, space of the forest. Which thus becomes a totally unknown universe, full of mysteries, where myths and legends meet the families out for a Sunday picnic, to the children's great enthusiasm. (BIEFF 2013)



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GHL (17', Austria, 2012)

Director: LOTTE SCHREIBER

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The system is out of control. Best Short Film at Edinburgh Film Festival 2013, GHL is an abstract visual essay on the crisis of capitalism. A man dressed in a business suit wanders through what appears to be a deserted park with late-modernist buildings, trying incessantly to reach someone on the phone. The voice-over conversation gradually proves to be a miscellaneous jumble of quotes from Rousseau, Marx or Baudrillard. Lost between rigid geometrical architectural structures, the man seems to be the last inhabitant of a dystopian world. Occasionally fractured by video inserts from a livelier past, the film eerily points to the contemporary global economic crisis. 



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HOTEL CALIFORNIA - NOBLESSE OBLIGE (9', Romania, 2013)

Director: CARMEN LIDIA VIDU

Dark and sensual, HOTEL CALIFORNIA is a mesmerizing black and white photo and video collage that tells an intricate tale of toxic relationships, a glimpse through the peeping hole into the protagonist’s memories. Set to the sultry voice of Noblesse Oblige’s lead singer, in this cover of The Eagles’ famous song, the filmmaker creatively envisions the inner turmoil of a young man remembering a seductive and destructive femme fatale, in a collage of past and present, vulnerability and inner demons. With a distinctive film noir atmosphere, HOTEL CALIFORNIA doesn’t talk about a place; hell is not somewhere you go, but something you carry around with you. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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IMAGE FISHERMAN (10', Romania, 2012)

Director: ALEXANDRU PETRU BĂDELIȚĂ

A hallucinatory LSD trip, IMAGE FISHERMAN is a mockery reinterpretation of the aesthetics of experimental cinema, a quirky exercise in free association and editing. In a collage of live-action and animation, the filmmaker reveals fragments of memories, subconscious thoughts, fears, obsessions, doubts, suggestively released from photo albums and letter-packed suitcases. The ironically grave voice-over commentary is playfully and energetically undermined by the eruption of kaleidoscopic images, in an uncontainable incandescence of imagination that is both flustering and entertaining. (BIEFF 2013)



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IMMORTELLE (16', The Netherlands / Taiwan, 2012)

Director: DAVID VERBEEK

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An enchanting fusion of choreography and cinema, IMMORTELLE is a broken-love story that creatively envisions the trials of separation. Having just split, the protagonists try to go about their daily lives, but lingering feelings materialize into the outside world. Their bare and unwelcoming interiors, echoing the emptiness within, are invaded by cadaveric doubles of the former lovers. These figments of the characters' minds struggle as if in a battle for life and death, the relationship’s dying breath. A deeply emotional experience, this is a film about feelings so strong that, in their quest for closure, they overpower reality. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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INVITATION (16', South Korea, 2012)

Director: YOO MIN-YOUNG

Winner of the Orizzonti Award for Best Short Film at the Venice Film Festival, INVITATION is a touching minimalist film about loss, grief and the need for consolation. Kyungsook attends her husband’s funeral. Thanks to a minute calibration in acting and directing, we can viscerally feel her inner struggle to not lose her poise in a time when everything else seems lost. She looks through her man's things, trying to calm down at least for a minute. His possessions however don’t bring back pleasant memories from the past, but give her, bit by bit, reasons to believe that there was another person in his life who should be invited to the ceremony.



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ISAC IS STILL SLEEPING (18', Romania, 2012)

Director: ALEXANDRU PONORAN & DIANA DRAGOȘ

ISAC IS STILL SLEEPING tells us about lucid dreaming and the consequences of dealing with the subconscious. Reminding of Linklater’s WAKING LIFE (through elements such as testing the dream by switching the light on and off or looking at the numbers on a wristwatch’s screen), this short film evokes the dream of a young boy called Isac, who is trying to escape the cruel reality by facing the menaces represented by religion (the mother figure) and aggressive authority (the father figure). The dense surrealism and the astounding images remind of some of the great pioneers of the surreal, like Svankmajer or Man Ray. (Mihai Teodor, BIEFF 2013)



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LAND OF MY DREAMS (20', Portugal, 2012)

Director: YANN GONZALEZ

World premiered in Locarno 2012, LAND OF MY DREAMS is a hypnotic and stylized road-movie, which evokes strange sexual fantasies and impossible love. While searching for the land of her dreams, Bianca – a beautiful girl recalling the Hitchcockian blondes from Brian De Palma’s films (one of GONZALEZ’s favorite directors) – meets again with her mother in Porto, after a long time, and they set up a small itinerant burlesque striptease show. A visual melopoeia with camp influences and pop iconography references, in which GONZALEZ sets a haunting and sensuous freak-show à la Lynch. With a retro tint to it and exuding in artifice, the film’s languorous rhythm is given by Anna Domino’s recurring eponymous 80s song, alternating eroticism with horror. (Andreea Mihalcea, BIEFF 2013)



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LIVING IN SPACE (12', Germany / Estonia, 2013)

Director: KATRE HAAV

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LIVING IN SPACE is a mix of documentary and animation about a man from Tallinn who suffered from schizophrenia since he was a child. The animation, used to portray different states of the psychosis, is an interpretation of the internal world of the character, and invites the viewer to connect and empathize, as does Oliver’s voiceover. With a serious and disquieting tone that dominates the overall atmosphere, the Estonian filmmaker KATRE HAAV creates a stylized documentary in which imagination and reality shape a world where it’s hard to resist being dragged into illusion, but even harder it is to get out of it. The movie tackles a difficult subject to understand or talk about, but manages to make it highly captivating and interesting. (Mihai Teodor, BIEFF 2013)



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MEMORY LANE (9', The Netherlands, 2011)

Director: PAUL & MENNO DE NOOIJER

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In this silent surreal dance film, PAUL & MENNO DE NOOIJER talk about an elderly couple in the autumn of their lives, browsing through old photographs to review the dynamics of their relationship over time. In life fragments full of flirtations, rows, aloofness, passion, affection and anger, the dance is at all times the appropriate medium to tell their story. Hope, disappointment and perspectives follow each other so the theme of impermanence undergoes various metamorphoses, alternated by chimeras of a lush garden and portraits of the wife. MEMORY LANE is an almost archetypal history of a man and a woman, in which dream and illusion follow in quick succession. (Mihai Teodor, BIEFF 2013)



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MENU (5', Romania, 2011)

Director: DANIEL NICOLAE DJAMO

MENU is DANIEL DJAMO's film about the woman who raised him, and part of the larger video and photography project BUNI, which collects 160 hours of filmed material and around 500 photographs. Although DJAMO and the woman at the centre of the project are not related, she was more than a mother to him. In 2009 he started to record her, in photography and video, to try and understand what it might mean to pass away, and to try to document and immortalize the process of ageing. It soon became like a diary of her last words, the only thing left of a loved one, as she developed colorectal cancer and diabetes.” (Mihai Teodor, BIEFF 2013)



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MOUNTAIN IN SHADOW (14', Spain, 2012)

Director: LOIS PATIÑO

A contemplative experience, the spellbinding MOUNTAIN IN SHADOW offers a poetic view on the relationship between the immensity of the landscape and the insignificance of the human being, through a hypnotic ballet of night-time skiers on a snowy slope. Starting from the white of the snow, the image turns increasingly darker and more stylized, almost black-and-white, as LOIS PATIÑO gradually shifts from mere representation of the mountain to a fascinating display of spectral, dreamlike spaces, transporting the viewer from the physical level to a metaphysical one. Treating the landscape as a tactile experience, by emphasizing texture and undermining spatial relations and materiality, the director creates a visually breath-taking choreography of the sublime.



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MYSTERY (12', Spain, 2013)

Director: CHEMA GARCĺA IBARRA

Nominated for the European Film Academy Awards 2013, the existentialist tragicomedy MYSTERY is an unconventional and highly delightful mix of magic realism, science-fiction and religious mystery. In a domestic fantasy universe, where the divine is an inherent side of the everyday, where the Virgin Mary offers cooking recipes and tells you at which supermarket you can get the best deals, MYSTERY tells the story of a middle-aged woman, Trini - devoted mother and wife, skillful housewife and gifted seamstress, who, after receiving a divine message through the back of a young man’s neck, decides to give up her life as she knew it and pursue her dreams. Standing out through a remarkable talent in staging reality, painterly aesthetics, a subtle sense of humor and a deep understanding of the human nature - all reminding of Ulrich Seidl and Roy Andersson - GARCĺA IBARRA manages to masterfully capture the absurd and the beauty of the human being, caught between earth and heaven, between the mundane and the spiritual, between triviality and transcendence. (Adina Pintilie, BIEFF 2013)



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N'ÊTRE (12', The Netherlands, 2012)

Director: OLFA BEN ALI

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World premiered at IDFA Paradocs 2012, N’ÊTRE is a stylistic experiment on the border between documentary and personal diary. OLFA BEN ALI revisits with warmth and poetic sensibility her childhood neighborhood from Toulouse. By blending contrasting images of a grey overcrowded apartment block, with affectionate recorded conversations with her mother, she takes up the challenge of speaking about ethnic and individual identity. “Our idea of home might be nothing more than a cherished memory, and even though we always feel it flowing inside us, trying to define it is like catching a flame. Olfa Ben Ali probably described it best in her film: Childhood is like the air in a bubble of strawberry flavored bubble gum.” (Max Urai, Impakt Film Festival 2012)



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NATION ESTATE (9', Denmark / Palestine, 2012)

Director: LARISSA SANSOUR

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Winner of the Ecumenical Jury Prize at Oberhausen, NATION ESTATE, a SF dystopia masquerading as utopia, offers a humorous and witty resolution of the Middle East conflict: the entire Palestinian population lives in a single, colossal skyscraper. To make its inhabitants feel like home, each city has its own floor: Jerusalem is on the third, Ramalah on the fourth etc., while the lobbies re-enact iconic landmarks, like the Bethlehem Church of the Nativity. Intercity trips previously marred by checkpoints are now just a brief elevator trip. With its glossy mixture of CGI, live actors and an arabesque electronica soundtrack, the film is a visual delight, which offers a surprising vision of a possible future for the Palestinian nation, forced to build upwards due to political and geographical constraints.



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NATION FOR TWO (16', The Netherlands, 2012)

Director: CHAJA HERTOG & NIR NADLER

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A mix of land art, performance and stop-motion, NATION FOR TWO is a surreal visual essay on the idea that “love knows neither nationality nor borders”. Inspired by the authors' own biographies, the film follows a man and a woman tunneling their way towards each other, from one end of the planet to the other, to be together, passing through forests, deserts, urban spaces or war zones. The formal elegance of the film is at its finest when they finally reach one another, in a visually fascinating scene set in an area where the physical limits of space are abolished. In “our own journey towards each other between European and Middle-Eastern countries, in order to stay together, we faced numerous barriers and bureaucratic obstacles, which inspired our working on this project.” (CHAJA HERTOG & NIR NADLER)



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NIGHTWALKING (13', The Netherlands, 2008)

Director: ELLEN BLOM

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Imagine yourself in total darkness. Add a deep silence. Then imagine that you have no spoken language. Only the traces of remembered touch are left on your body and in your mind. – so begins NIGHTWALKING, a poetic documentary that challenges the viewer to experience the world from a completely new point of view, that of a blind deaf mute. Hungrily curious, the camera records every movement of the characters' hands and faces. Masterly framed, in stunning chiaroscuro, their gestures seem to follow the music’s poignant rhythm, in an impromptu choreography that deeply touches our heart, changing the way we perceive these people and reality. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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NOT EYE (11', France, 2013)

Director: LAUREN MOFFATT

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Deliberately exposing its filmic conventions, NOT EYE is a compelling fiction disguised as documentary, that exposes the daily burden of being looked at (by others, by institutions, by surveillance cameras), burden that turns people into exhibits. A woman on the offensive, unwilling to admit defeat, comes up with an outrageous solution that deflects all the gazes pointed at her, while still allowing her to watch others. Adding on location filming to an eccentric interview footage makes the woman’s liberation even more exhilarating and empowering, while also making the viewer aware of the constant surveillance he is under. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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OFF GROUND (13', The Netherlands, 2013)

Director: BOUDEWIJN KOOLE

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Winner of the Audience Award at the Cinedans Festival in Amsterdam 2013, OFF GROUND is a conceptual dance cinema piece about the strength and beauty of human bonds. On a visually surrealist realm, where we witness how the soul is leaving the body, a mother and a son articulate through dance their shared past and present. A touching film, which uses bodies in motion as a means of expressing the emotion felt when two people have to let go of each other, while the boundaries between reality and illusion and between life and death are a matter of relativity. (Andreea Mihalcea, BIEFF 2013) 



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OFF-WHITE TULIPS (24', Germany, 2013)

Director: AYKAN SAFOĞLU

Winner of the Oberhausen Grand Prize, OFF-WHITE TULIPS is a video essay conceived as a fictional dialogue with James Baldwin (a socially influential American writer), that innovatively extends the limits of the autobiography genre. Found photos, postcards and newspaper clippings, documenting the writer’s prolonged visits to Istanbul, and Turkish and American pop-icons representations are mixed in this collage, through an imaginative power of association. The result is both a subtle critique on racism, transnational discourse and LGBT politics, as well as a touching proof of how people we know only thanks to the ideas they convey can influence our personal histories.



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OMNIVORE (6', Romania, 2013)

Director: LAURENȚIU RĂDUCANU

A surrealist 35mm incursion in a butcher's routine that echoes Orwell's Animal Farm, OMNIVORE proposes an unsettling perspective on human identity defined in relation to our instinctive side and latent beastliness. Choosing as subject a butcher/pig, LAURENȚIU RĂDUCANU builds a filmic discourse based on the investigation of the space, juxtaposing images of a battered farm and of a slaughter house in ruins – symmetrical and repetitive expressionist compositions in dark, morbid colors – that ends by undermining species’ differences, making it hard to tell the human apart from the animal. (BIEFF 2013)



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ORDER OF SERVICE (9', The Netherlands, 2012)

Director: HENK OTTE

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Growing up in the bosom of the Reformed Church, a rigid environment with a clearly-defined, inflexible idea about life and how it should to be lived, with the unsettling ORDER OF SERVICE, HENK OTTE seems to try to exorcise the traces left by this past. World premiered at IDFA PARADOCS, this film is a split screen compilation of nine different religious ceremonies projected simultaneously. This collage of hypnotic synchronicity becomes a strange automated “choreography”, the gestures and intonation of the priests being repeated with mechanical precision. Even if it loses its immediate meaning, the ritual has a powerful subconscious effect, creating a visceral sensation of rigidity and mortification. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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OUR DAYS, ABSOLUTELY, HAVE TO BE ENLIGHTENED (22', France, 2012)

Director: JEAN-GABRIEL PÉRIOT

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BIEFF 2010 Main Award winner, for EVEN IF SHE HAD BEEN A CRIMINAL, PÉRIOT returns with his OUR DAYS, ABSOLUTELY, HAVE TO BE ENLIGHTENED, a documentary experiment of great emotional power, about freedom and the strength of human affective bonds. We witness a concert given by the inmates of a prison in Orléans. Yet, they remain unseen, beyond the prison walls, all along the film, while the camera looks at those who listen to the music outside, in front of the prison. Silent emotions, the rapt faces of the listeners, humming along the prisoners, and their unrevealed personal histories, form a human gallery of potential stories, born out of the viewer's imagination.



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PATIO (17', Brazil, 2013)

Director: ALY MURITIBA

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The second part of a trilogy in progress about prison life, PATIO is a powerful discourse on freedom as a fundamental human right. After having worked himself for 7 years as a prison guard, ALY MURITIBA captures the prisoners' daily activities in the “patio” (the inner courtyard), using a fixed camera placed behind the bars. Formally daring, the filmmaker’s choice to shoot everything through the bars, without changing the vantage position, makes us viscerally experience the sense of confinement, as if we were prisoners ourselves. At the same time, the daily routines of the inmates (including the capoeira dance) and their conversations convey the humanity and warmth of these people, by contrast with the violence clichés used in the mainstream media representations of prison life.



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PRIMATE CINEMA: APES AS FAMILY (12', USA / UK, 2012)

Director: RACHEL MAYERI

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The first film ever created expressly for chimps and shown to an actual chimpanzee audience, the intriguing PRIMATE CINEMA: APES AS FAMILY, premiered in Berlinale 2013, becomes an interesting challenge addressed to the human viewer to re-evaluate his own behaviour. With a “story vs. response” structure, which is to say the fictional drama is intercut with images of the chimps in captivity watching it and mimicking the on-screen actions, the film raises thought-provoking questions about the effect of media not only on these primates, but also on humans. 



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QUEEN OF SPLINTERS (15', Finland, 2012)

Director: ANNA-SOFIA NYLUND

With the support of:

   

I’ve never been in love with any of the men in my life. I don't know what love is. The experimental documentary QUEEN OF SPLINTERS focuses on the intimate confession of a woman – a sort of promiscuous Queen of Sheba – struggling between the desire to win at short-term sexual power plays and the need for finding long-term mental comfort and security. Naked rag dolls portraying a five, thirty and sixty-year old version of herself bring to life smoldering anger, regrets and finally, reconciliation with the past. A disturbing account of an inanimate puppet about her search for love, about prostitution and sexual abuse, memories that become paradoxically vivid. (Andreea Mihalcea, BIEFF 2013)



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REBECCA. FILE (13', Romania, 2013)

Director: ILINCA STIHI & MIHNEA CHELARIU

Rebecca is a well-known name. From Daphne du Maurier to Hitchcock, she has had a seductive career that spans several art forms. But however famous her name might be, its significance invokes millenary interrogations. Rebecca is SHE, the woman, anima, the finitude or the permanent continuity, she is a question. This is why our cinematic approach added to this name, even from the film’s title, a full stop and an explanation. File. Dossier. Document. REBECCA. FILE has several layers of perception and interpretation. It does not give a conclusion. It’s made of several starting points pieced together. Thus, Rebecca becomes a formula. A magical or a mathematical one, that promises mystery. With several possible resolutions, depending on which way you approach it. Intellectually, humanly, emotionally, affectionately. File. A profile. The spectators are those who recompose it. The images, the sounds, the words contain it. (ILINCA STIHI & MIHNEA CHELARIU)



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RIVER RITES (12', USA / Suriname, 2011)

Director: BEN RUSSELL

In a “master class of psychedelic ethnography”, “RUSSELL takes his transcendent cinema to new heights with his fascinating RIVER RITES, which transforms an idyllic riverside scene of a group of Saramaccan Maroon children - playing and washing in the river - into a sort of sacred animist rite.” (New Zealand Film Festival) “Mystery and beauty are created through a simple cinematic device. A river somewhere in Suriname: children and young adults run about in the water. From this scene that has a mythical sense to it, the filmmaker creates a dance, in which the grace of the people’s gestures becomes pure energy and rhythm. A cinematographic play in the truest sense of the word, reminiscent of some of Maya Deren’s films. Or, in other words, how cinema becomes poetry, the human body a tireless tightrope walker, and some simple dance steps a philosophy of life.” (Senscritique)



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RIVERS RETURN (12', Belgium / Slovenia, 2011)

Director: JOE VANHOUTTEGHEM

Mixing stunning violin music, symbolic choreography and images of constant motion and ephemerality, RIVERS RETURN is a powerful emotional experience, an almost magical allegory of life shown as a continuous, ever-transforming flow of events. If the constraints of time are proven to be unreal, with past, present and future constantly intermingling, time’s burden becomes ever more concrete. Caught in a race with no discernible destination, the characters hastily move about, trapping themselves in suits and then evading, taking a lifetime to find love. This visual essay of people’s shared destiny awakens the viewer’s realization of transience, of a life passing as quickly as water in the riverbed. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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SHADOW OF A CLOUD (30', Romania, 2013)

Director: RADU JUDE

With the support of:

RADU JUDE delivers his usual mix of gritty realism and humorous satire with SHADOW OF A CLOUD, awarded the Heart of Sarajevo for Best Short Film 2013. The story revolves around Father Florescu, as he is summoned to a dying young mother’s bedside to say a last prayer. Going beyond the stereotypes, priesthood is shown at the intersection between clerking and divinity, in the difficult position of delivering miracles to people who only half-heartedly believe. With a narrative that defies classical storytelling, SHADOW OF A CLOUD is a complex film that explores the trials and tribulations of man faced with his own finitude. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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SHIRLEY – VISIONS OF REALITY (93', Austria, 2013)

Director: GUSTAV DEUTSCH

With the support of:

“An impressive cinematic recreation of images and moods for Hopper cognoscenti, it more controversially puts the American realist's work in a social, political and cultural context.” (Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter)

 

A treat for both cinema and visual art lovers, world premiered at Berlinale 2013, SHIRLEY – VISIONS OF REALITY is a unique cinematic event, a fascinating dialogue both between painting and cinema and between personal and political history. An homage to the iconic American painter Edward Hopper, the film brings to life through the means of cinema 13 of his paintings, to tell the story of a woman whose thoughts, emotions and contemplations let us observe an era in American history. In a series of breath-taking tableaux vivants, DEUTSCH's impressive set design, together with the remarkable lighting by cinematographer Jerzy Palacz, brilliantly recreate Hopper's visual universe, valuing its inherent cinematic and narrative qualities. The film follows the life of Shirley, a liberated “woman in America in the 1930s, 40s, 50s, and early 60s. A woman who would like to influence the course of history with her professional and socio-political involvement, who does not accept the reality of the Depression years, WWII, the McCarthy era, race conflicts and civil rights campaigns as given, but rather as generated and adjustable. A woman whose work as an actress has familiarized her with the staging of reality, the questioning and shaping of it; an actress who doesn’t identify her purpose and future with that of solo success or stardom, but who strives to give social potency to theatre as part of a collective. A woman who cannot identify with the traditional role model of a wife yet longs to have a life partner.” (GUSTAV DEUTSCH)



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SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI (4', Romania, 2012)

Director: MIRCEA CANTOR

SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI is a conceptual video that suggests the ephemerality of human condition, the illusion of earthly glory and the hope for transcendence. A (beautiful) woman, like a bare-foot vestal dressed in white, unrolls a fuse in the (bandaged) palms of humble women and men in black clothes, bowed down on their knees. They sit in a circle. Once the woman passes the thread in the circle, she ignites it, continuing the unwinding. The flame passes on each palm, burning the fuse. The vestal exits the circle and watches impassibly the fire burning what is left from the fuse, in her hand. The performance resembles a ritual, accompanied by intensifying semandron sounds specific to the Orthodox call to prayer, where the humility of those who ask and vanity of the one who offers share the same fate, the inescapable death. (Luciana Dumitru, BIEFF 2013)



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SIESTA (15', Portugal / Austria, 2012)

Director: DAVID KREMS & HUGO FURTADO

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“It must be about one week since it happened...” – A deserted beach in the morning, empty alleyways in the midday heat, panoramas of a grid of streets where no movement can be perceived from the distance. SIESTA evokes associations with the current boom in horror films made with supposedly found footage: what looks like the normal downtime in the rhythm of a Southern European coastal city’s day - the siesta - is drawn out to a catastrophic length in the film: something has happened, and Barcelona’s now empty and the painted beach clock has stopped. A local resident looks for other survivors and new supplies. She films her forays, and the voiceover reads entries from her diary. (Joachim Schätz)



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SOLECITO (20', Colombia / France / Denmark, 2013)

Director: OSCAR RUIZ NAVIA

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The result of a chance encounter between life and cinema, SOLECITO is the tender story of two teenagers discovered by RUIZ NAVIA during a casting. Their former relationship and how it ended inspires the director to stage their would be reconciliation. Their contagious unspoiled authenticity and youthful energy rubs off on the camera, that radiates vitality as it records their fictional renewed love. In this refreshing instance of reality and cinema influencing each other, the border between fact and fiction is blurred. Casting footage becomes a documentary of the film’s making, which in turn becomes the base of the teenagers’ possible make-up. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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THE BED IS BROKEN (24', Romania, 2013)

Director: RALUCA RĂCEAN GORGOS

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Here is the toboggan… here's the prison for small children... a cat... a bunny... two stars in the sky... A lost childhood. Two children explore the dilapidated entrails of a deserted factory, looking for bits of scrap metal for money. Through a patient camera, the film follows the behaviour of the boys, in their struggle for survival, caught between a violent playground and a hostile workplace. Screened at IDFA Amsterdam 2013, “THE BED IS BROKEN works with subtlety, silence and an eerie visual sense. It gets you so close to these deprived kids, so much that the files they throw at each other hit you as well. Finally, the heart is broken as much as the whole world in which they live in.” (Alexandru Solomon, filmmaker and Festival Director, One World Romania)



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THE CAPSULE (36', Greece, 2012)

Director: ATHINA RACHEL TSANGARI

With the support of:

   

A surrealist haute-couture fantasy, bearing the unmistakable signature of the director of ATTENBERG, THE CAPSULE is a fascinating allegorical exploration of the feminine mystery. Reminiscent of Jan Švankmajer, Pina Bausch and Maya Deren, the movie tells the story of a gothic matron and her seven young disciples, as they are initiated in the essence of femininity through a ritualistic danse macabre. An intelligent play on genre film conventions (horror, melodrama, fetish cinema), this seductive insight into feminine nature masterfully combines animation, choreography and live-action, in a thought-provoking dialogue between cinema, fashion and visual art. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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THE GRAVEDIGGER (14', Portugal, 2013)

Director: ANDRÉ GIL MATA

Combining stop-motion animation with live action, THE GRAVEDIGGER is a horror fairytale of gothic and expressionistic influences, about a man with a monstrous face and a golden heart. The film brings together a group of bizarre characters - a dwarf who involuntarily cuts the heads of those he meets, a sleeping-beauty who falls in love with the headless gravedigger - into a tale with a lurid happy ending. Echoing classic genre films, like Nosferatu or Tales from the Gimli Hospital, and with a voice-over reminiscent of Vincent Price, THE GRAVEDIGGER makes the viewer return to a childlike state, tightly clutching his blanket as he anxiously listens to horror stories. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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THE KING’S BODY (30', Portugal, 2013)

Director: JOÃO PEDRO RODRIGUES

An intriguing dialogue between the collective and the individual memory, THE KING’S BODY, world premiered in Locarno 2013, offers an unexpected and though-provoking 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)



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THE MASS OF MEN (16', UK, 2012)

Director: GABRIEL GAUCHET

With the support of:

   

Amid economic and political tensions, the oppressed masses have no choice other than violent revolt. Winner of the Golden Leopard for Best Short Film in Locarno, THE MASS OF MEN is inspired by the 2011 London protests, outbreaks of collective anger against the state of general apathy and disillusionment reigning the country. The story follows Richard, a 55 year old jobless man, whose late arrival for a meeting with his unemployment assistant has disastrous consequences for him. If initially, we are tempted, out of reflex, to harshly judge the protagonists, GAUCHET cleverly manages to change our view on the incident, challenging our very idea of morality. Placing the notions of good and evil under the magnifying glass of relativism, THE MASS OF MEN deals, at a deeper level, with the paradoxes of human nature, which break loose in crisis situations, with fear, cowardice, despair and anger.



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THE MATRIARCH (9', Romania, 2013)

Director: BARNA NÉMETHI

Following his 2010 short URMUZ, BARNA NÉMETHI returns to BIEFF with THE MATRIARCH, a fashion film with horror elements, starring the two well-known Romanian actresses Luminița Gheorghiu (The Death of Mr. LăzărescuChild's Pose) and Monica Bîrlădeanu (Of Snails and MenFrancesca) in the lead parts. Made by the creative group Warden Collective, the film explores the grotesque-diva-seen-as-a-sex-predator iconography, in a baroque stylistic key, reminding of the fascinating universe of Erwin Olaf's photography. Addressing the issue of the voyeur viewer, BARNA NÉMETHI juggles in slow-motion with the iconic image of the femme fatale and with the myth of the satyr. In an unsettling and seductive mixture of grotesque and sensuality, the aging diva has to confront self-loathing when facing a younger version of herself. (Andreea Mihalcea, BIEFF 2013)



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THE MOTHER, THE SON AND THE ARCHITECT (16', The Netherlands, 2012)

Director: PETRA NOORDKAMP

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PETRA NOORDKAMP’s THE MOTHER, THE SON AND THE ARCHITECT is a visually poetic diary investigating the link between built space and human history, an intimate unfolding of a brief love affair from the past. While the camera performs a lyrical choreography, catching an Italian modernist spherical church from varied points of view, an off-camera woman’s voice recollects long afternoon walks with Emilio – the son of the architect who had designed the church - before he committed a tragic act. Influenced by Antonioni’s cinematography style, NOORDKAMP manages to approach church’s volumes as sources of both alienation and tenderness.



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THE PILL OF HAPPINESS (12', Romania, 2013)

Director: CECILIA FÉLMERI

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The dark comedy THE PILL OF HAPPINESS is, on one hand, a satire on the TV reality show phenomenon, and on the other, a caustic commentary on the everyday abuses the ordinary Romanian faces in contemporary society, on the frustrations piling up day by day that can’t find closure in any other way than, of course, by watching television. In a dystopian reality show, such an unpleasant event is reenacted with a twist in which the bad guy receives his well-deserved pay-off, according to some sort of talion law. The film launches an interesting debate on the manipulative power of television, whose cinematic ability to create make-beliefs - reinforced with the based-on-real-events caption - enslaves the TV viewer, by means of narrowing the border between reality and fiction and through the mechanisms of empathy and identification with the hero. (based on Oana Ghera’s review, Film Menu #17)



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THE RUNAWAY (23', France, 2013)

Director: JEAN-BERNARD MARLIN

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Winner of the Golden Bear at Berlinale 2013, THE RUNAWAY is an insightful coming-of-age story that speaks about teen aggressiveness, examining the differences and similarities between respecting the law and the human compassion. In visual terms, indebted to realist aesthetics, MARLIN's camera follows, in the course of a day, Lakdar, a youth social worker, and Sabrina, one of the young people in his care at the juvenile centre he works at. But today is no ordinary day. Sabrina is to be judged for her past offenses. Face to face with her past actions and the consequences they may imply to her future, she panics and runs away. Following her traces, Lakdar embarks – along with the spectator - on a hallucinatory journey through suburban Marseille, desperate to find her, hoping not everything is lost. (Oana Ghera, BIEFF 2013)



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THE SCREAM (2', Moldova, 2012)

Director: MITOȘ MICLEUȘANU

The video THE SCREAM re-contextualizes and interprets Edvard Munch´s famous painting in the contemporary urban space. This symbolic painting expresses the trembling with anxiety on a margin of a fiord, where the artist felt the great scream in nature. By situating the idea of this painting in a different historical setting and in a different artistic form, MICLEUȘANU proposes a postmodernist approach. The concept of the video has as point of departure, as the artist points out, the impossibility to say anything about the meaning of life in a world where we have lost touch with each other. It also questions our own attitude towards the other’s despair, in an urbanscape where this mental state of alienation is ubiquitous. (Luciana Dumitru, BIEFF 2013)



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THE STAGES OF A DROWNING (6', Romania, 2013)

Director: ADINA MOCANU

A hypnotic piece of visual art, THE STAGES OF A DROWNING "seeks to explore a mental state created by the contrast between specialized and poetical language" (ADINA MOCANU). A medical text presenting the stages of drowning is juxtaposed to an abstract visual composition – depicting a treetop with quivering leaves and an artesian well – accompanied by a disturbing sound-design. Initially observational, the shots are stylized stage after stage through different filters and exposures as seen from the presumed subjective point of view of the drowning person, that gradually turns into the spectator's point of view. (Oana Ghera, BIEFF 2013)



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THE TURNER FILM DIARIES (26', The Netherlands / Taiwan, 2012)

Director: JAMES T. HONG & YIN-JU CHEN

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World premiered at IDFA 2013, the unsettling THE TURNER FILM DIARIES is a pseudo educational film set in an alternate future, that uses mock black and white archive footage to build a dystopian view of what would happen if humanity’s worst nightmares were to come true again. Based on the eponymous book, a controversial, extremely racist sci-fi novel, this short is a polemical documentation of a fictitious global ethnic cleansing, that taps into the collective fear of extremism taking precedence once more. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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THE WAVE (20', Belgium, 2012)

Director: SARAH VANAGT & KATRIEN VERMEIRE

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Screened at Locarno and IDFA Paradocs, THE WAVE sets in motion the archaeological gaze of the viewer: a mass grave from the Spanish Civil War opens and closes itself, unraveling a macabre secret. Consisting in 9000 photos and time-lapse recordings, this experimental documentary calls for the collective remembrance of fascist 20th century mass executions. A camera placed above the grave captures the progressive discoveries of an unseen archaeological crew. In the middle of a wasteland, human remains appear, then mysteriously disappear, as if blown by a strong wind, that removed the sand and uncovered death.



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THE WIDOW’S CRY (30', UK / Italy, 2010)

Director: EMILIANO MINUTELLI

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The deeply atmospheric THE WIDOW’S CRY is a film about ambiguous relationships, a surrealistic depiction of a mourning process. Brought together by the promise of a rich inheritance, four women, each married, at one point in their lives, to the same man, share a meal at their ex-husband’s funeral. Above the mantelpiece, a ghostly landscape painting - made by the deceased himself - inhabited by spectral figures dressed in black, sets the scene for a parallel narrative thread that reunites the characters in a shared moment of grief. Constantly surprising the viewer with its ambiguous depiction of space and characters, THE WIDOW’S CRY becomes an uncanny challenge to the conventional narrative form. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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THE ZERO THEOREM (107', UK / Romania / France, 2013)

Director: TERRY GILLIAM

With the support of:

   

“Unmistakably a film by TERRY GILLIAM, whose humorously futuristic visuals expressively mock the commercialized, big business, computer-ridden life of today.” (Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter)

 

“Franz Kafka is alive and well, striving in the 21st century and making films under the name of TERRY GILLIAM. His inimitable visual style is once again at work, dressing Pat Rushin’s script to look like a surrealistic combination of old and new, real and imaginary, futuristic and outdated at the same time.” (Dan Făinaru, Screen Daily)

 

Filmed last year in Bucharest and world premiered at the Venice International Film Festival 2013, the retro-futuristic science fiction film THE ZERO THEOREM is a biting satire of our commercialized and computer-ridden contemporary world, painted in Orwellian tones. Echoing his earlier BRAZIL, the movie is drawn in a familiar GILLIAM-esque manner, with its odd-ball humour and eccentricity, its array of circus-like characters and contrasts of low-tech futurism and decaying classical decors. In a world of technological clutter and noise, in which outdoor advertisements  some promoting the church of Batman the Redeemer – follow you on the street, and one is never left a moment to himself, Qohen, a socially maladjusted cubicle zombie and eccentric computer genius, struggles with his faith in his own destiny. Plagued by existential angst, he waits for a call that is supposed to give his life meaning, while he works on the Zero Theorem, a mysterious project aimed at proving that the entire existence, the whole universe, himself included, has no purpose. GILLIAM ventures and asks some of life’s major questions - does human existence have any meaning, how to address the contemporary crisis of spirituality, how can we ever preserve our privacy in a world of connectivity, are we able to really live in the moment, or are we engulfed by the virtual world  and then takes a step back, letting Qohen and, implicitly, the viewer take a deep thorough look at themselves. And, as with any deep soul-search, the end is bound to unveil a surprising answer.



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TO THE WOLF OF MADRAGOA (9', Portugal, 2012)

Director: PEDRO BASTOS

Within the cultural project Guimaraes European Capital of Culture, PEDRO BASTOS turns to one of the city's (in)famous citizens, António Lobo de Carvalho - an 18th century poet and satirist known for his irreverent sexually explicit writings that went against the Christian morale as dictated by the catholic church - in order to create an audacious  35 mm video installation made from tableaux frames that come to life, with painterly effects, reminiscing the beginnings of cinema. A postmodernist non-narrative piece of filmmaking, TO THE WOLF OF MADRAGOA playfully alludes to a sexual relationship between a nun and various saints, while ironically questioning the catholic hypocrisy in regard to eroticism and sexual behaviour. (Oana Ghera, BIEFF 2013)



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TOKYO GIANTS (23', Belgium, 2012)

Director: NICOLAS PROVOST

PROVOST concludes PLOT POINT, his trilogy of subverted cinematic conventions, with TOKYO GIANTS, a short film presented in Oberhausen and Rotterdam in which the man in the street becomes an accidental film protagonist. Exposing the power of cinematic illusion, PROVOST transforms on-location footage of Tokyo’s citizens into what seems like a Yakuza movie. Genre film devices escalate the tension: meaningful glances, emphatic music and surreptitious sound effects create an irresolvable suspense and, with it, the film’s plot. 



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TRACKING HAPPINESS (11', Romania, 2009)

Director: MIRCEA CANTOR

With sensibility and intelligence, in TRACKING HAPPINESS CANTOR conceives a poetic imagery about the pursuit of happiness, subtly suggested through the choreography of seven women. Dressed in white, they walk around, at first in line, then in circles, on white sand, in a vast pristine space. Each one sweeps away the tracks of the woman before her, with a broom, only to leave her own footprints in the fine sand. This ceaseless laying and erasing of traces combined with a minimalist and mystical sound-design, as if outside of time and space, tells of how human beings (re)create an impermanent history of small things and magic. (Luciana Dumitru, BIEFF 2013)



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UNDRESS ME (15', Sweden, 2013)

Director: VICTOR LINDGREN

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In a world of rapidly evolving definitions of masculinity and femininity, UNDRESS ME pushes these borders even further, in a captivating experiment on identity. Two strangers meet in a bar. The sexual tension is palpable, so they quickly end up at her place. But what began as a night of exploring each other soon becomes an unexpected exploration of self. Winner of this year’s Teddy Award at Berlinale, the movie exposes the arbitrary nature of social conventions, raising interesting questions on one’s identity and sexuality. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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UP THE WIND (6', Romania, 2013)

Director: OANA ISABELLA SZANTO

An unsettling insight in the transition from life to death, Oana Isabella Szanto's UP THE WIND is a neo-impressionist rendering of a woman's encounter with her doppelganger, seen as an omen of death. The woman washes her clothes. On the other side of the pond she sees another woman, identical to her. So she runs into the forest to find her in a slow motion chase at the end of which she will come to face her own death. The mechanical, surreal sound of artificial breathing and that of the heartbeats overlapping those of the forest, as well as the often blurred or hyper-stylized glowing  images, convey a subjective vision, presumably that of a patient on the verge of death. 



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WHAT MY LOVE MUST SEE (11', Portugal / France, 2013)

Director: FRANÇOIS BONENFANT

The hyperminimalist and sensual WHAT MY LOVE MUST SEE seduces the viewer by subtly modyfing his perception of the same image: a living postcard, that contains the aural fingerprint of a love story and, at the same time, a poetical equation about cinema, with essential elements of the cinematic language as variables. FRANÇOIS BONENFANT proposes a powerful and touching visual dialogue between the viewer and a man looking unyieldingly into the camera in three different moments of the day, from one of Lisbon’s romantic rooftops. While the sunlight travels over the man’s face towards the sunset and the Portuguese love song, heard first in the distance from a radio, comes closer and closer, hummed by the man's warm voice and finally embracing us as unique soundscape, nostalgia and longing subtly sneak under our skin, until fully possessing our hearts and bodies. (Oana Ghera & Adina Pintilie, BIEFF 2013)



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WILD HAGGIS (20', Portugal / France, 2013)

Director: JOÃO NICOLAU

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Winner of the Best Film Award at the Directors’ Fortnight Cannes 2013, WILD HAGGIS conveys a playful and refreshing vision of the imaginative power of children. A 10-year-old boy faces, with the help of a magical forest creature, the common challenges of a summer camp: games, pranks, winning the heart of the girl he fancies or standing up to bullies. By merging a humorous depiction of the everyday life of the camp and the fantasy realm of the child, JOÃO NICOLAU creates a charming and candid modern fairy-tale.



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WITHIN WALLS (26', Portugal, 2013)

Director: TÂNIA S. FERREIRA & GONÇALO ROBALO

A hyperrealist cinematic portraiture of a couple's intimacy, WITHIN WALLS uses the space – the apartment the two faceless characters live in – as a canvas, projecting onto it the small traces of existence, which eventually define their identities. Stylistically radical in its exclusive use of only one type of framing, the close-up, WITHIN WALLS swings between a sensuous poetics of space and a clinical investigation of it. Through almost haptic images, a dialog is established between the couple on-screen and the viewer, introducing the latter into the enclosed existence of the two within the apartment’s walls. (Oana Ghera, BIEFF 2013)



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WONDERLAND (2', Romania, 2011)

Director: BARNA NÉMETHI & VLAD FENEŞAN

WONDERLAND shows quite a different Alice – a young woman, not innocent at all, but very sensual and full of mystery. Lonely and bored, she dances in front of the camera, moving in a nearly shamanic way. Like a witch, she performs some kind of ritual: she enshrouds herself in mist and smoke, turning back time, only to start everything over again in an eerie cycle. The unique acting space, inhabited by a giant flying fish and three inert mannequins, highlights the antithesis between ruin and the beauty’s simplicity. A surreal fashion movie, briskly paced and of exquisite cinematography, bearing the unmistakable signature of the filmmakers duo NÉMETHI and FENEŞAN. (Mihai Teodor, BIEFF 2013) 



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YELLOW FEVER (7', UK, 2012)

Director: NG’ENDO MUKII

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Awarded the Ecumenical Jury Special Mention in Oberhausen 2013, YELLOW FEVER mixes different media to bring to attention notions of race, self-image and self-worth. Trying to fit the mould imposed by western standards of beauty, African women attempt to erase their individuality by bleaching their skin and braiding artificial hair into their own. Animation and documentary blend with a battle-like choreography that envisions the struggle with one’s own reflection. Images of the great Savannah, projected on the dancers’ bodies are a reminder of the heritage interwoven in these women’s very skin, exposing the pursuit of a globalized standard of beauty as a negation of personal identity. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING AT ONCE, BUT YOU CAN LEAVE EVERYTHING AT ONCE (15', Switzerland, 2013)

Director: MARIE-ELSA SGUALDO

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Talking about the clash between the traditional notion of family and the individual freedom, this touching diary-docufiction blends personal memories with found footage, to tell the story of a difficult childhood from the vantage point of adulthood. At the border between reality and fiction, the filmmaker transforms anonymous archive material into a reflection of her own past. The images of an idealized Switzerland, coming from the Swiss Television archives, and the candid voice-over make, by contrast, an even more unsettling story of a girl growing up without a mother in an oppressing family. Yet, the past doesn't manage to stifle the young soul, she refuses to fit the standards imposed by society and decides to live her life to the fullest, on her own terms. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)