A number of the short films in this year’s programme are rife with formal references and allusions to other films. Can this simply be attributed to a pervasive love of quotation or is there something else going on here?
Many of the films do contain such references, for example the Russian film Devyat prolyotov vmeste by Alexander Karavayev, which quite wonderfully evokes the French New Wave, and then toward the end turns into an homage to Gus van Sant. The Belgian contribution VU also points unambiguously to the New Wave and to sixties and seventies European cinema. It seems to me that cinema in its entire history plays an important role in the lives and creative activity of these filmmakers, and they clearly express this in their work. But of course it is equally important to them to find their own voice in the films, to develop their own style. Leila Albayaty is able to do this especially in VU’s musical sequences. She is a singer herself, by the way, and will be giving a concert at the Homebase following our awards ceremony.
We’re very pleased that Sébastien Koeppel, VU’s cinematographer, worked on another film in the Shorts programme, 26.4 by Nathalie André. In the latter film he establishes even more clearly his very own, truly impressive visual language and way of working with the camera that is directly concerned with the body and physicality. Incidentally, this approach can also be seen in the third Belgian contribution, Kaïn. In 26.4 Koeppel masterfully hones in on this style – for example in the scene where a woman in biker gear is looking for her phone in a field of blackberries. The editing and the images become one here, one movement; the camera itself becomes a body, as it were. It’s really remarkable.
In Kaïn this focus on the body is also underscored by the heavy labour the main character has to perform.
Kaïn has an unbelievable energy. The film – a debut, by the way – kept going around in my head long after I saw it, and that’s exactly what I want from the cinema. If someone has to be killed on screen, if life has to be wasted, then let it at least not be for the sake of sensationalism or in the form of a casual, supposedly cool act. Show me the effects of murder and guilt. Kaïn does precisely that, in a rich green landscape of forests and fields, a setting that resonates with the theme of several of the films: nature and the outdoors.
Found Footage and the Longing for Manifestation
Is there a continuity then with last year’s programme, in which nature and non-urban spaces figured in a number of films?
This is a continuing trend, yes. What is even more remarkable this year though is the increased use of found footage, which is both used as part of the mise-en-scène such as in VU and Devyat prolyotov vmeste as well as in the form of a compilation like in Pure. We were particularly pleased with the unique way in which the latter film treated the found material.
Pure almost works like a music video.
Pure certainly packs the most violence into the shortest amount of time of any film in the festival – and makes its point that way. By editing together action scenes from countless films, without drawing attention to the quantity of sources, Jacob Bricca shifts the focus to the cinematic physicality mentioned above in an entirely new way. Speaking more broadly, one could say that not only has the use of found footage emerged as one of this year’s themes, but perhaps even an increased awareness of the materiality of film. Many of the submissions we received had been treated in such a way that the video material showed signs of wear and tear.