Short film programmes that fill an evening have long been more than just the secret audience hits of film festivals. They now enjoy success and popularity in regular cinemas. The pleasure of shorts lies in the diversity of styles and stories: ten films in 90 minutes can be a rollercoaster of emotions for the viewer or a real eye-opening experience. In general, short films are considered more experimental and more daring. The short format invites directors to play with narrative forms and visual creation. It combines the necessity of precision with the freedom of the sketch.
For Annette Kilzer, who curates and coordinates the Short Film Competition for the Berlinale, it’s exactly this which makes short films so exciting: “Something which would be considered unsatisfying in a feature film can often be exactly what gives a short film its allure. With this form, you can allow yourself the freedom to leave things open-ended and not resolve everything so conclusively.” As in Gecko by Theresa von Eltz, which was made at the London NFTS. Free from dialogue, the film tells the tale of a boy and his mother who live in a run-down trailer at the edge of the city and about a ambiguous man, who might be a father, a lover or a sex client.
"A good short film programme should communicate a certain lightness."
Gecko is one of the 16 films in the reshaped Short Film Competition. In order to get an even closer look at the diversity and uniqueness of the short format, also within the Berlinale programme, the former short film programmes of the Competition and Panorama have been merged into a single new Short Film Competition. “We want the films to be regarded as ideas, ideas which are realised in original narrative and cinematic terms,” says Annette Kilzer. “Already the way a film is made articulates a position – no weighty ‘message’ is necessary. The short format is very sensitive to nuances and a good short film programme should communicate a playful feeling, a certain lightness. Not in the sense of ‘light food’ – it should be told with a passion for experimentation and openness.”