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23 January - 3 February 2013

Nisimazine Rotterdam Shorts special

content

Page 3 Page 5

Tiger Shorts

Editorial Interview with Peter van Hoof

Pages 8-9 Pages 10 -11 Pages 12-13 Pages 14-15 Pages 16-17 Pages 18-19 Pages 20-21 Pages 22-25

Review and interview Immortelle Review and interview Six Day Run Review and interview Da Vinci Photo reportage by Tina Remiz Review and interview Eris Review and interview Secretion Review and interview Dentro Tiger Shorts Reviews

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Critics’ Votes Interview with Emmanuel Chaumet

Spectrum Shorts Pages 30-32 Pages 32

Spectrum Shorts Reviews Credits

editorial As many put it, The Rotterdam International Film Festival is really a “Mecca of Modern Avant-Garde Cinema”: a unique place to discover what is happening underneath the more commercial currents of the international Film Industry. How the festival organization has managed to maintain its A-list soul at the same time it does not give an inch in its endless search for the more abstract is beyond us. Nevertheless, it is exactly that reason that attracts us to the event. After an unforgettable experience in 2012, where Nisimazine finally manage to return to its roots and focus solemnly on short films, we decided to make a glorious comeback this year, and again the festival did not let us down at all. Our small team of 6 writers and one photographer, from all over Europe, did not waste any time and dived on the deep end of the Tiger Shorts competition, only to find an even more impressive selections of works than the previous year. As usual in these events, our pulse was really not following the same path as the jury’s, whose final choices rarely coincided with our own. Nevertheless there was one film that seems to achieve consensus on both sides, Unsupported Transit, by the Dutch filmmaker Zachary Formwalt, as it was able to impress us all from both an artistic and cinematic perspective. There were others that enticed our spirits far enough for us to pursue both the filmmakers and the ideas behind the projects. The mesmerizing Immortelle by David Verbeek; Yuri Ancarani´s dazzling Da Vinci; or the Mexican sensation Dentro, by Emiliano Minter, are three examples of the many you´ll find on these pages. Even though the program barely left us any space to breath, let alone battle the “apocalyptic” weather felt this year in Rotterdam, we somehow found the time to take brief peak at the Spectrum shorts program as well, with fantastic results. So if you dare, take a dive as well on our special issue to find out more about these and other films, as well as getting a feel of what this year´ edition of the festival had to offer. You won´t regret it. Enjoy!

Fernando Vasquez (Portugal) editor of Nisimazine nisimazine rotterdam shorts // 3

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Head Programmer for Tiger Shorts Peter van Hoof is the head programmer for shorts at the IFFR, with a team of five people: Erwin van ‘t Hart, Theus Zwakhals, Juliette Jansen, Peter Taylor and Maaike Gouwenberg. Our reporter Zowi Vermeire caught up with him to find out why he thinks he does the most beautiful job in the world. How do you select the short films for IFFR? We start in the beginning of September with a huge amount of entries, about 4000 this year, and have to end up with a program at December 9th. The final program of 180 Spectrum Shorts, 15 shorts that are screened before features plus the 23 titles in the Tiger Shorts competition is the result of many collective viewing sessions and long discussions. It’s not about it is a good or a bad film, but about ‘Why should this film be screened in Rotterdam?’. I can’t put our profile into words, but we’re looking for filmmakers that try to do something different. Rotterdam is about the filmmakers as authors, not about stars and red carpets.

What are you hoping to achieve next year? One of the things we’re working on is a mid-length film program. The films between 30 and 60 minutes have a hard time being shown all over the world. We are one of the few festivals that presents these works, but it’s complicated to present them in the right way. If you present such a longe short film in between two short films of 12 minutes, the shadow it casts over these shorts is quite big. In the future we have to go for a mid-length program slot. In general, we have to keep on changing.

interview

Peter van Hoof

What do you think of the competition this year? I think we had a very consistent Tiger Competition this year. With several young talented filmmakers and others like Sergei Loznitsa, Nicolas Provost or David Verbeek that have been making feature films in the meantime, but are back now in Rotterdam to première their new short film. It was a very nice mix of people and films. Do you see any changes throughout the years? I think it’s good that the boundary between art and film becomes vaguer. At IFFR the short films that are normally shown in museums or galleries are put in a different context. Art and cinema come closer to each other.

interview by Zowi Vermeire (The Netherlands) nisimazine rotterdam shorts // 5

tiger shorts

Immortelle by David Verbeek, The Netherlands

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With two premieres at the festival, and new projects about to florish, young dutch filmmaker David Verbeek found the time to sit down with us and have a chat about one of the most unsual and daring shorts in competition, Imortelle. How did this project came about? In this case the project found me. I was approached by the group of aroma-therapists that saw my work and asked me to do a video. I liked their company and the philosophy behind them. They gave me a massage that synchronized smell, touch and sound. It felt like I was being reprogrammed in a way I had no control of. You can’t be rational about the senses, so I came up with the idea that if I had to express these sensations I would have to do something that is not cerebral at all. That is why I choose dance. I never worked with dance before, never did any choreography, but I though this should be a dance film because it is about such abstract feelings.

Is the story autobiographical in any way? Yes in the sense that I was once in that concrete house. I know that place intimately because I went there with my ex-girlfriend and we discovered that strange and magical place together. Also because you find architecture that you´ve experienced, at one point in your life, and you try and integrate it to make it more personal. More intuitively I thought a break up would be the perfect situation to explore this bodily touch. Normally you don’t remember what people said or how they looked, but rather you remember the connection and the feeling of longing. There is a lot happening in a human life that goes well beyond language and rational understanding. It is not so much a break up I had myself, but more these repressed and extra processes and sensations that you experience in a break up.

Why do you work so much in Asia? It started with a fascination with the fact that it is growing so fast, and I am interested in how that affects people, especially people our age. I love the notion that society grows faster than you. What is the effect of modernity when it happens quickly? Here it happened progressively in a period of 60 years, and there it took just 15. I think that is very cinematic, when you see the contrast before old and new and relationships between generations. It also provokes more extreme behaviour out of people. I know I am European and I want to keep my European perspective of what happens there, but I get more inspired over there.

The Dutch filmmaker David Verbeek is no stranger to the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Most of his films were shown here, so one can say he was raised by this festival allowing the viewers to witness his maturity process. This year´s edition was no exception. His latest feature, How to Describe a Cloud, was not his only premiere, as the event marked the first screening of his short Immortelle. This film´s central theme and plot is based one of the most notorious things for youth in general, break-ups. Verbeek vindicates this norm of teen-drama series and romantic comedies of all its clichés by engaging in a purely non-verbal motion spectacle.

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Can you be corporate and artistic at the same time? Does it limit you artistically? Yes, of course corporate films do that. But in a way this is not a corporate film. They are not a conventional corporation; they want to expand what they are doing. Now they want to expand themselves to art. Film is just another extension. This festival is just the beginning. What I am really interested is to see where this film going to go. Is it going to generate more business for them? Will this very loose association to their work have any impact?

On the verge of self-pitying, right after the split up of a young couple, reality collides with hallucinatory figments of the protagonists´ minds. The inner reality penetrates the external one as a result of mental unbalance. The real treat comes up with the invocation of pale doppelgangers appearing at each other households. The weight of the situation lies on the shoulders of spectral dead-like naked figures, expressing themselves only through grotesque twitching and jerking. The ballet marvel establishes a somewhat universal language similarly to music and provides highly emotionally charged “communication.” The zombie-like state of the doubles reminds viewers of danse macabre thus emphasizing the act of living. On the other hand, nearly nude dancers bear the notion of sexuality, which means that not solely emotional backlash occurs but also a physical one, hence constituting an analysis of the emotional and physical confines. The stunning photography enhances the whole effect, reinforcing by saturating the black-and-grey colour as the monochrome effect. Immortelle happens to call attention to the generational statement of certain emotional sterility, hollowness. This short film impresses with a well-thought and cunningly executed choreography. However, another component draws remarkable attention, mise-enscène. The shorter the film, the more matter the details. Despite the absorbing concept and choreography, Immortelle features tremendous touch for details on the set. Undoubtedly, the director Verbeek has presented us an unmissable gem.

David Verbeek

review by Martin Kudláč (Slovakia) interview by Fernando Vasquez (Portugal) nisimazine rotterdam shorts // 9

Six Day Run by Mika Taanila, Finland

Six Day Run opened the tiger shorts competition at this year´s edition of the IFFR. We caught up director Mika Taanila to find out the truth behind his trance-like film about one of the strangest and most demanding races in the world. How did you find out about this race and what made you want to make a film about it? A friend of mine mentioned that such an event takes places once in a while. I was intrigued by the biblical structure in the first place. That got me started. After basic research I found out that one of the best ultra runners in the whole lives in Helsinki, very close to me actually. Then I simply phoned him up and learned a lot about “inner and outer running”. How did you proceed during the shooting? We did the shooting with a very small crew; just me, the cinematographer Jussi Eerola and two or three local NYC-based people helping us out with practical things, minimalistic audio recording and little bit of tracking shots. We shot on super 8 mm film and basically without sound, so it was a lot fun to improvise freely. We didn’t stay up for the whole six days without sleep. Sometimes we came in the morning, some-

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times in the evening, sometimes in the middle of the night. The runners had a wonderful catering service, a variable vegetarian menu, with breakfasts, desserts and so on, but I never saw anybody sit down to eat during the six days. They were all too busy to get more laps, so everybody ate while running. Colours play an important and joyful part in Six Day Run to illustrate the trance phenomenon. Why did you decided to use them? The film has a dualistic form. On one hand it shows the outer reality, the “outer running”, like the followers of Sri Chinmoy put it. On the other the trance-like altered state of mind, which they aim for, that is called “inner running”. With colours and somewhat dramatic sound design we tried to create an audiovisual simulation of switching back and forth these two parallel realities. And at the same time trying to keep the film as ascetic as the running for Ashprihanal is. What first came to your mind: the original music by Circle or the Sri Chinmoy poem? One of the first ideas for the film was a score by Circle. Their repetitive minimalist approach blends in nicely, I think. The recitation parts, five quotes from

Can you give us some clues about the link(s) between Six Day Run, your previous work and your next/current projects? Well, this is a tough question. As an artist I don’t like to pay too much attention whether a new piece fits the profile, so to speak. I like to work intuitively if possible and it’s more up to somebody else to make the connections. This time I was interested in the spiritual, the sublime and the bliss. But of course, there’s a theme of man-machine like in many films before. The interaction of machines and humans is not so obvious this time, more focusing on a man trying to be like a blissful machine.

Six Day Run makes me think about They shoot horses, don’t they feature by Sidney Pollack, mainly because he showed the same kind of race of course, and not because of the way of shooting it. Have you watch this film? What do you think about it? I like Pollack’s film a lot. And I like even more the gloomy novel by Horace McCoy which the film is based on. They both were inspirational references to me, just like Jörgen Leth’s sports films and Bruce Baillie’s total oeuvre.

Mika Taanila Dovile Gasiunaite

Run as much as you can, as long as you can. Basically that’s the 15th Self-Transcendence Six Day Race point in Corona Park, Queens. During the six whole days participants are invited to forget any human rhythms to run, run and run on the one-mile loop, until their last breath and far beyond. A perfect place to meditate while testing your physical limits, and no age limit required so far. In this short documentary, the experimental filmmaker, visual artist and occasionally DJ Mika Taanila focuses on the spiritual ascent side of the race, by illustrating the progression of one of the runners, Aalto Ashprihanal (incidentally a fellow finish national).

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a poem by Sri Chinmoy, was something that came into play only during the editing phase. The film was supposed to be totally without dialogue, but these field recordings simply added the experience and brought suggestive element even more in focus. They’re like mantras, or like daydreaming.

The original soundtrack made by Circle, which accompany Aalto during the whole race (he was actually hearing it in his I Pod while running), is brilliant. In addition to it, the Sri Chinmoy poems, combined with coloured and joyful picture superimpositions of running Aalto, as well as the surroundings of buildings, nigh lights, airplanes, cars, trees and water, surprise us by being able to make us understand what it must feel like getting into a trance-like condition by the solitary action of running. Alas, icy reality hits us once the race is over. Back to normal life, heroes or winners are pointless, and after having the occasion to reach funny magnificent and transcendent levels of perception, a toenail more or less will never look the same anymore. Isn´t it?

review & interview by Lydia Castellano (Spain) Director’s photo by IFFR nisimazine rotterdam shorts // 11

Da Vinci by Yuri Ancarani, Italy

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Italian director Yuri Ancarani is fast becoming a reference in the world of experimental filmmaking. This year in Rotterdam he brought us a unique film about the fine line between the automated and the organic in modern medicine, Da Vinci, which quickly became one of the most talked about films in competition. Eirini Nikopoulou caught up with him to find out more about his latest work. Did you study Medicine or something like that? Why did you decide to depict real time surgery? No, absolutely not! My first encounter with the surgery room was traumatic! Gradually I got used to it, as I spent much time with the doctors in that surgery room. What appealed to me the most was the fact that inside a human body it is possible for a machine, a robot, to work.

It is very interesting that during the surgery we see no blood, or red colour anywhere. We can only see blue instead. Was that made on purpose? There is so much blood! Everywhere! However, I didn’t want to create feelings of disgust or fear in the audience. I wanted them to watch the “clean” parts. Regarding the blue colour, it was a mistake I made. There were three cables and I mistook the red with the blue! Nevertheless, nothing changes. It might be better this way actually because it allows you to do this trip. The doctors themselves who saw the film told me that they would rather watch this relaxing blue colour while operating, instead of red all the time. So, I am going to propose this to hospitals around the world!

After presenting a primitive-like conductor of excavators in a quarry (Il Capo) followed by gas platform workers living inside a capsule (Piattaforma Luna), Yuri Ancarani completes his trilogy of work with this ‘arcade reminiscent’ operating theatre, where his previous equation is reversed and the machine now “lives” inside the human body. The film follows Da Vinci, a robot-surgeon, located in the Department of Robotic Surgery in Pisa, during a routine operation. Maintaining the ideal balance between the realistic approach of a film documenting a surgery and the elegant poetic depiction of a dedicated doctor’s handling of a joystick, Yuri Ancarani brilliantly builds up the spectators’ suspense until the surgery is finished and the camera exits the body. It is then that an understanding of the place and actions involved is revealed, as a consequence of all the small fragments of images, which have proceeded it, fall into place.

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Your film has already been described as an “informal success”. Why do you think the audience is intrigued that much by your film? I think people are interested because this is the first time they are able to watch a needle from the other side. Also, what is really important for me is that during the last scene, the domino scene, the music is composed by a young and talented musician, Lorenzo Senni, who has used different pieces of sounds used in videogames during the last 20 years. This is like a representation of our generation. This is kind of a paradoxical situation because we have considered in the last few years that playing videogames is a waste of time, but actually it appears as a very precious skill.

In this video-game driven film world, which shows the high contrast between the natural (human body) and the artificial (operating robot), strong film techniques are utilized to attribute unique cinematic value. Sequences of (inevitable) close ups, medium and long shots skillfully edited to the rhythm of the heartbeat and carefully crafted “chiaroscuro” cinematography, stretching out to expressionistic aesthetics, perfectly serve the rotation between a human (doctors) and an artificial (Da Vinci) point of view. The film artfully manipulates us to a paradoxical condition where “sci-fi” oriented elements are part of our everyday life and capable video game players might eventually save a life in a surgery. All these, wrapped up with a subtle sense of witty humor, allow us to “upgrade” to the “next level” that is an exquisite audiovisual experience.

Yuri Ancarani Kleber Mendoça Filho

review & interview by Eirini Nikopoulou (Greece) nisimazine rotterdam shorts // 13

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Eris

by Claire Hooper, United Kingdom

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Eris, by british filmmaker Claire Hooper, stood out from this year´s Tiger Shorts competition by producing an unsual piece about the strength of a woman´s struggle to get her children back to her after social services take them away, in a complicated urban environment. Reporter Eirini Nikopoulou spoke to her to find out what led her to work on such a subject.

Why did you decide to use elements of Greek mythology to narrate a contemporary story? I did feel that there was something symbolic about the struggle Danielle was having and tried not to idealize it or make it something overly beautiful, but to look at it and think about it in different terms, and that’s why I think I could use this kind of language for Greek mythology.

Why did you decide to make such a film? There are two reasons why I made this film. One has to do with Danielle and her life and the other one has to do with my understanding of semiotics of Greek Mythology. I had made a film, about two years ago, called Nyx, who was the goddess of the night and one of her children was Eris. So it’s actually a generational sequel to Nyx. The first film was about the night and this film is about struggle. Eris is the goddess of struggle.

With this story did you also want to make a comment on the situation, other women like Danielle, might be facing right now? The problem is that with taking children like this you end up with a situation where generations and generations of children are raised by the state and Danielle is certainly an example of that. Her children are third generation in the family, who have been raised by the state and not by their actual parents. So the parents are traumatized, the children are

Is there another film project you are currently working on? I am scripting a film which has to do with city rage, madness and culture. Loosely it will have something to do with the story of Artemis and Aktaion in the forest and that moment of metamorphosis, not just in Aktaion but in Artemis herself, in that moment when she loses her skill and gives way to this violent anger.

Are there any gods with human flaws living amongst us? Or are there humans with divine values? And which would be the ideal way to tell their stories? Based on the real story of Danielle, a young woman struggling to win her children back, Claire Hooper – already acclaimed for her previous films Nyx (2010) and Aloide (2011)- uses a large scale of semiotics derived from ancient Greek mythology to present a brilliant example of a postmodern tragedy, narrated simultaneously on two levels, to complete her trilogy. Eris reveals the transcendental form a mother’s sorrowful story can have while depicting the cross section of a violence –in many formsbased society.

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traumatized, everybody’s traumatized and you can’t expect it to continue in this way.

This chaotic modern day context of strife, dispute and disorder presented through the leading characters’ pictures, decisions and fateful series of events imposed on her, is functioning perfectly as a semi-fiction documentary. However, its direct link to the goddess Eris -whose presence in many ancient Greek and Roman plays has been the catalyst for discord and conflict - lets the film expand to a second and more symbolic stage, where fragments of an emerging story and classical motifs are skillfully compelled to form an emotionally manipulative and stunningly crafted piece of art. It is not just the poetic aesthetics, the brilliant use of light or the powerful performance Danielle delivers. The music, composed by Beatrice Dillon, and especially the rhymes performed by the female rapper Lioness, not only build intense emotions up to the point where catharsis is achieved, but being reminiscent of the classical sense of “chorus”, they also act as a fully developed character who stands between the audience and the film, in order to ideally narrate the story.

Claire Hooper

review & interview by Eirini Nikopoulou (Greece) nisimazine rotterdam shorts // 17

Secretion by Willie Doherty, Ireland

Willie Doherty´s short film Secretion takes us into a voyage of magical sceneries and the depths of time. Our reporter Lydia Castellano met him to try and dissect what was behind such a daring project. What came first: the voice over or the close ups on trees and fungus? First it was the location. As a visual artist I usually start working with the imagery, and then if there is a necessity for a voice over or dialogue.

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Secretion was a commission for Documenta (13), which happened in Kassel last summer, so the work was shot there. It talks about that landscape, the context of German History and memory, and how events are both remember and forgotten. It seems to be settled in an uncertain future where this ecological breakdown happened, and the events of the past seem to be coming back again to have venge-

ance... it’s a kind of slummy disturbing view of the future. Kassel is also one of the places where the Brothers Grimm worked and found the original material of their fairytales, which are often about the landscape and about something who goes wrong, with a morality in someway. How did you organise the shooting with D.O.P. Connor Hammond (Hunger)? I have worked with Connor in a number of projects. Even if is not easy to work with a crew in a situation where there is no script, Connor has a sense of what I tried to do and what I’m looking for, and I think he enjoys the experience of being able to construct this vision. In Secretion, I wanted quite slow tracks so as the viewers spends time on the landscape to become absorbed by it, as if they are really in the landscape, almost a character in itself.

I had the chance to watch Secretion on the big cinema screen, but is this the first kind of space where it is supposed to be seen? Usually, when the work is installed in the gallery, it’s quite low to the ground so you really feel it has a physical presence in the space also. This is very important for me in terms of how work is understood because in the installation space should be about more than just the visuals: it has to fit somewhere physically. In Secretion, a part of the intention is to make the landscape central in the whole experience.

Slow tracking and close ups shots takes us around fallen trees, living fungus and dynamic mould, while a warm voiceover relates the strange events which took place in an uncertain past, or future perhaps. This is the uncluttered device that composes Secretion, the latest short film of visual artist Willie Doherty. The title itself gives us already some clues about Doherty’s motivations. Mainly, a secretion is a substance released from a cell. Furthermore, it could be a series of feelings released from a set of pictures and sounds put together. In this way, pictures and commentary are synchronized at the beginning to illustrate the mystery of poisoned dead trees in the middle of an autumnal and quiet forest. But slowly, and without even noticing it, the narration takes off to bring new elements of knowledge in order to find and explain to the poisoning’s origin. As the speech goes on, the narrative runs through to transform itself in to a troubling kind of fairy tale. Pictures and soundtrack start fitting to the storytelling in a very new sense. As if by magic, the landscape becomes figurative. Terrible events and action are depicted, and we can only feel safe and cosy in our own side of the screen.

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The voiceover seems to empower the forest images, are you used to work with such levels of narrative? Over the last number of years my work in general has become more concerned with narrative and storytelling, so I really wanted to make a narrative that would make it difficult for the viewer to leave. I wanted the story wrap the people from the start of the work to the end, making them stay for the whole experience.

Secretion is all about rhythm. Tracking shots mixes with voiceover, picture mixes with sound. By all appearances, nothing more simple, and yet nothing more difficult than give the right rhythm to this two essential cinema factors. Coordinating the amazing work of D.O.P. Connor Hammond and the fascinating voice of actor Rory Donaghy, the director succeeds, with great ease, in this masterful piece of art, recommended to be seen in a big screen and dark room, if possible.

Willie Doherty

review & interview by Lydia Castellano (Spain) nisimazine rotterdam shorts // 19

Dentro

by Emiliano Rocha Minter, Mexico

Young Mexican director Emiliano Rocha Minter brought us an intimidating trip into our primitive side. Our reporter Martin Kludac had a long conversation with him to try and dissect what reasoning was behind his work. What is the idea behind Dentro, what urge to shoot film like this? It was really funny. The real story is that my dog was sick. And I don’t know why but he had started to dig a hole, so it was like he was digging his own grave. So I start thinking about a man who digs his own grave. He starts to do something primitive thus going back.

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What is the bigger picture, the wider perspective concerning you short film? I have this idea that I am now working on. It is not solely film but also video art. It´s about how my generation is connected to nature, how has its relation changed, and about

how they are trying to go back… because we don´t really know how to approach nature. We are all living in big cities, but we have to go back and we don´t know how, we have lost touch with it. This is also the case of Dentro, right? Yeah, sure. You know how they say go back to the “earth,” you know. But I need to add, go really back, put it on and start inhaling it and you will die literally connected with nature. Your short film is very atmospheric black and white grainy piece. Why did you choose this exact style? Yeah, the case is…I should not say but honestly I shot it in colour. I have seen it on two festivals screened in colour and I realized that I want something else. I want this story to be dirt. So I started to think and I liked the black-and-white version more because it is not realistic and I wanted the film to be stranger. After

And last but not least, what is your next project? I am working now on a feature. It is about a girl, the protagonist, and the story is occurring in a very modern part of Mexico. The girl symbolizes all that our times, our modern times, stand for. Very strange things start to occur, so it is also the same subject as Dentro. It´s about nature and nature works in a very strange way… like bang, like a hurricane, unexpected things happen. Another theme is also about sexuality, another strange thing. The script is already finished.

The intriguing Mexican short Dentro features a distinctive melancholic style. The monochrome grainy shots inside the forest sharpen the lyrical nature of the several singular scenes bounded by the leitmotif of primitive civilizations. The coalescence with nature itself, by using its sources and nothing but human hands and minds, leads us to the reminiscence of the myth of Prometheus. The stolen light was given to humanity by Prometheus in order to ensure the development of civilization, thus also art. However, Emiliano Rocha Minter switched the vantage point, thereby Dentro is more of an antithesis to the primal myth with leitmotif of retraction. The art of craftsmanship is not used to build a civilization as to redeem from it. A man, leaving his kind behind, comes to the unnamed forest to carry out something, which strongly resembles pagan or natural rites. The structure of the ritual frames the whole film with well-timed inner rhythm until the bittersweet and maybe even the atoning closing scene. On the other hand, the art of craft becomes crucial in the essence, as well as the process itself.

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that, I have added the grain because it is also a film about soil and I wanted the spectators to face dirt all the time, to put it between spectators and the projecting screen. So I am escalating the intensity of dirt, the story goes on and there is always more and more dirt until the end.

The director offers a procedural art with the outcome entering the poetical realm of Andy Goldsworthy. The intense emphasis on nature suggests an intention in addition to the will to fuse with it unconditionally. Beautifully shot scenes build internal tension as the cathartic climax unavoidably approaches. Dentro also foregrounds a theme of human solidarity on a somewhat controversial subject. The collision of natural and unnatural clearly reflects also the current hyper-technological times and the loss of contact with Mother Nature. The director submits the style of the film to the ever-present idea of coming back to the protective womb, including the use of digital grain, which provokes nearly tactile texture of the image, thus transposing the protagonist´s contact with soil on viewers. This process matters most in Dentro. This emerging filmmaker shows his riveting answer on both philosophical questions: Where do we come from? and Where are we going? While answering: Back to the roots. Figuratively and literally.

Kleber Mendoça Filho Emiliano Rocha Minter

review & interview by Martin Kludáč (Slovakia) nisimazine rotterdam shorts // 21

Agit

by Aydin Ketenag ,Turkey The silence of speech brings the power of image and emotion. Intense colours of nature in contrast with the gloominess of the people: Only sound prevails, no music, no dialogue. It is a welcome change to the overkill of shorts with an explanatory voice-over at Rotterdam International Film Festival 2013. Mainly through the eyes of a young boy we see a mourning family. It’s unclear who exactly died, but that doesn’t matter. This is a film that conveys feeling rather than a story. The film seems to treat more than just sadness. In particular one scene is a pleasant interruption in the general feeling. The spectator sees a shot of the boy at a table with a butter sandwich while his mother makes him another one. He has to eat it, but looks lingering at the Turkish delight that stands not far away of him. By scenes like this, the mourning is beautifully combined with the incomprehensibility of death, channelled though the innocence of a child. Agit manages to hold your attention throughout the entire film with its beautiful imagery and openness to everyone. It doesn’t force any interpretation on you. Mourning is a different experience for everyone, just as this film.

Zowi Vermiere (The Netrherlands)

By Pain and Rhyme and Arabesques of Foraging by David Gatten, United States A flash of glass bottles, seconds of a text, without giving one the time to read it. David Gatten’s repetition of images creates a Petrarchan sonnet in By Pain and Rhyme and Arabesques of Foraging. As Gatten did before in his previous films, he again explores the relation between text and the (moving) image in this film. This trip through text and image is not only achieved through classic poetry but also by the brief flashes of excerpts of Robert Boyle’s texts. The repetition of short black screen shots in between is at first rather unusual and uncomfortable. However, after a while it creates a trance-like feeling. It is as if the rhythm of the visual can be felt. There is no sound, which at first ads to the restless mood. Nevertheless it seems as if the noises of the audience become the soundtrack of the film. A poem needs to be recited to gain a meaning and rhythm, though in this Petrarchan sonnet the viewer is not served with a recitation, but with the silent noises of the audience. The breathing, coughing, whispering of the public adds to the feeling of the work. Nonetheless, the end feels quite abrupt; back to reality. A longer film would have probably really engulfed one within the repetition of this sonnet. However, this would not fit the tight schedule of a Petrarchan sonnet, which is not longer than 14 lines. By Pain and Rhyme and Arabesques of Foraging is a worthwhile watch for every film fanatic for an almost silent movie experience. Zowi Vermiere (The Netrherlands)

Letter

The Mother

by Sergei Loznitsa, Russia

by Pimpaka Towira, Thailand

Unquestionably it is no easy task to analyze correctly the impact decades of dictatorship and state influence can have over the collective psychic of a nation of people. Russian Filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa is not deterred by this impossible mission, and has spent the last two decades debating over this dilemma.

You know a film is splendid when it effortlessly transmits the artistic quality while releasing the aura and the mystery skilfully created to grow audience anticipation. The Mother proves to be one of those films executed in a single shot.

His latest work, Letter, is an astonishing view of what he believes is a nation of “silent prisoners”, who willingly go about their daily routine in a zombie like state. Shot in an impressive, intimidating and dreamy black-and-white method, Letter shows us a glimpse of the automated lifestyle of a group of patients and doctors at a country side Russian psychiatric hospital. Sound plays a pivotal role in this discourse, being impossible to distinguish who are the patients and who are the doctors. Instead, Loznitsa prefers to mix them all under the same cloud of inertia, refusing to categorize them, apart from their unavoidable collective and mutual incarcerated qualities. This film is a peak into another dimension, into a hazy, sleepy and distant world you do not want to be a part of, yet, nevertheless, awakens great attraction and curiosity in you. Fernando Vasquez (Portugal)

The story unfolds in a temple outside Bangkok, where a mother mourns for her dead daughter. Simply, subtly yet powerfully, we are manipulated to delve into an almost transcendental film world, where a very clever use of light creates an ethereal link between the living and the dead. A natural performance delivered by Chontida Prato, the leading actress, creates the realistic basis for her character to be essentially developed. Despite her grief, she blackmails her daughter’s killers in order to bargain the compensation over her child’s death. The film is a comment on a paradox appearing lately in Thai society, where the amount of money a dead body costs has been a major issue. Already acclaimed in her country, Pimpaka Towira presents, through this second part of her trilogy about death, a very good reason why independent Thai filmmaking has been emerging since Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s winning of Palme D’Or at the 2010 Cannes International Film Festival.

Eirini Nikopoulou (Greece)

nisimazine rotterdam shorts// 23

The Tiger´s Mind

Tokyo Giants

Unsupported Transit

by Nicolas Provost, Belgium

by Zachary Formwalt, The Netherlands

Director Beatrice Gibson once again references influential works of radical composer Cornelius Cardrew, and not only by using the title of his experimental sextet. His music also overlaps into the realm of narration as instructions under The Tiger´s Mind suggest. The musicians are becoming performers. Gibson continues, in this enthralling concept, by asking several artists to work on different film production elements (sets, Foley, narration, etc) thus developing a composition character based narrative. The result is even more fascinating as the film is almost non-figurative, abstract, thriller resembling poetics of Alain Robbe-Grillet and his Nouveaux Romains.

For some people the ordinary day-to-day activities in a common city may seem banal and creative less. For Belgium filmmaker Nicolas Provost, a Rotterdam International Film Festival veteran, this same absence of meaning opens a whole new world of possibilities. Tokyo Giants presents us with an alternative interpretation of the life of a city, based on associations of images and sounds all film fanatics recognize from notorious Yakuza films. It is, above all, an exercise of displacement, attributing meaning to the banal. In this alternative fictitious reality a drunken citizen lying on the floor becomes a suicide casualty; an ordinary woman entering a taxi turns into a kidnap victim; and a regular couple arguing in the street play a life or death game.

The construction of the future Shenzhen stock exchange becomes an elegy for the Age of Capital. The monstrous building shot with time-lapse photography almost erases all of the workers, one of the indispensable elements along with building components.

by Beatrice Gibson, UK

The structure succumbs to mélange of music and image within the confines of the film medium. The overhanging encapsulation only proves how potent this medium is. The filmmaker also tackles the Lacanian theme of language as the originator of things by referring to its ambiguity when language possesses assurance as well as the capacity to threaten. The Tiger´s Mind surpasses as a pinnacle in this year´s Tiger Shorts section, not only thanks to unpretentious avant-gardesque concepts but also due to selfreferential and intratextual tendencies which Gibson manages to deliver enchanted by comedic nuances, notwhistanding its psychodramatic form. The struggle for control over film production was never so funny, ruthless, subtle, Dadaistic and cutting-edge. Martin Kludac (Slovakia)

nisimazine rotterdam shorts // 24

Provost hyperactive vision sees opportunity at every glance, giving the audience the chance to visit a dimension of short span imagination, in a schizophrenic narrative lost somewhere between the linear and the abstract. With the aid of easily recognizable soundtracks taken from films such as Kubrick´s The Shinning or Demme´s Silence of the lambs, the painfully ordinary busy night of Tokyo becomes the stage for epic never-ending intrigue and action. Even funny at points, Tokyo Giants is a sharp reminder of the fact that the difference between what we see and what we interpret can sometimes be nothing more than a question of manipulation. Fernando Vasquez (Portugal)

The director Zachary Formwalt forms, on a three scene composition, an eloquent image of an “abbreviated form of capital.” This Marxist concept is enriched by notorious anecdotes about Muybridge´s bet, which eventually led to the origins of cinematography. Formwalt achieves to illustrate his point concisely by putting the haunting example of time-lapse photography and the voiceover of an unflattering Marxist vision of the future of capital. The world where inputs of human labor and materials have become redundant will be short-lived. The seemingly philosophers´ stone, a status that money has acquired, is not so inexhaustible. It cannot generate another wealth for all eternity. Unsupported Transit delivers a strong and gloomy statement as predicted by the controversial prophet. However, the most fascinating aspect of this film is the parable about Muybridge itself and the grammar of cinema being capable to project such abstract ideas. Besides the apocalyptic message, there is hidden ode to cinema underneath.

Martin Kludáč (Slovakia)

nisimazine 2013 agenda Cannes Film Festival (France) 15th to the 26th of May Workers leaving the factory (Again) by Katharina Gruzei , Austria The current trend in worldwide cinema is an autothematic and meta-textual approach, foregrounding not the exhaustion of ideas but instead sealing its place. Moreover, meta-textuality has become a vigorous form of expression in the postmodern sense but as well in a cinematic sense. That´s why Katharina Gruzei works with something so familiar which transfers us right to the dawn of cinema itself. Naturally, the visual poetics has clearly changed over the course of decades; the raw camerawork altogether with visceral rhythmic stroboscope lighting is incessantly penetrating into the viewers´ minds. However, the concept behind this pure and vivid spectacle, profuse of social as well as political statements, rests untouched. The appropriation or an almost quotation of the notorious La sortie de l´usine Lumière à Lyon retains its core. At least, in a decontextualized form, Katharina Gruzei uses a well-known scene to emphasize the difference, or perhaps the equality between now and then, while leaving enough space to contemplate on a fragile future. The modus operandi or the concept shares certain similarities with Formwalt´s Unsupported Transit. Heavily politically/economically laden severe enunciation yet lyrically framed in the history and the texture of cinema itself. It reaches far beyond the form of trivial mannerism.

Karlovy Vary Special Issue (Czech Republic) 26th of June to the 6th of July Venice Film Festival Special Issue (Italy) 28th of August to the 7th of September San Sebastian Film Festival Special Issue (Spain) 20th to the 28th of September …and many more. For more information please check our website (www.nisimazine.eu) or our facebook page.

Eirini Nikopoulou (Greece)

nisimazine rotterdam shorts // 25

Critics’ votes Fernando

Zowi

Martin

Erini

Lydia

Six Day Run

4

3

3

3

5

By pain and Rhyme and Arabesques...

x

3

3

3

3

Nummer veertiern, home

2

4

3

1

5

Insight

3

4

2

3

4

Greystone

3

3

3

2

2

Secretion

4

2

4

3

5

Immortelle

5

5

4

5

3

Eris

2

3

3

5

3

Janus

2

4

3

2

1

Mae

4

2

3

5

3

The Tiger´s Mind

3

2

5

4

1

Fikon

4

5

2

3

2

Agit

3

4

3

2

2

Unsupported Transit

5

3

5

4

2

Though I Know the River is Dry

3

3

3

2

2

Dentro

4

4

4

5

4

Tokyo Giants

5

3

5

4

2

Da Vinci

4

4

5

3

Museum of Imagination

5 x

2

3

1

1

Atropa

x

3

3

1

1

Die ArbeitrInnen verlassen die Fabrik

4

3

4

2

2

Letter

4

4

4

4

1

Continuity

x

4

4

2

2

interview

Ecce films started by producing only short films with young filmmakers. When did you think of doing a feature? I worked in a few production companies before creating my own company in 2003. I created it rather late for me so I didn’t want to waste time. I had to find a position where I would be quite active and independent very quickly, without having to refer to anyone. So I made the first short film straightaway, imposing myself the idea of making a lot regularly. Without waiting for any kind of grants or TV investment? Exactly. I made the first 3 without any help. It was on purpose. At the time I told myself that as soon as you became a producer the best way to show it is with your own films, in order to exist in an editorial way.

Did you learn project by project? What is important to learn is the personal relationship with the filmmaker. But for this, there is nothing to be learnt because each filmmaker is different! Each one asks for something different, there is no two of them who need a presence or a feedback at the same time. So we learn by making: some times it works, some times it doesn’t. Every filmmaker I worked with was very different. I hope they think I am a good producer of course, but in absolute terms, I am a good producer mostly because I am the right interlocutor for them.

Emmanuel Chaumet

Emmanuel Chaumet is a French producer and founder of Ecce Films. He has successfully transitioned from short to feature production, having had shorts in competition at Rotterdam in the past, while this year he has also a feature, Ma Belle Gosse, being presented in the Bright Future section. Lydia Castellano spoke to him to find out more on how to go from short to feature production.

Is it the same to produce a short than a first feature film? I defend the idea that I will make features as shorts and shorts as features. I won’t think on films budget by budget, saying “oh, this one I have money so I will do it this way, and this other I don’t so I will do it the other way”. As a producer or as a filmmaker, you are really lucky to have the opportunity to make a film. In a way, I think I was lucky not having any grants for the features I have produced... because then I made them the way they had to be made. The money issue is more present in a feature than in a short? Inevitably bets are more violent, that’s for sure. But anyway, by making my features a little bit like shorts, it was only just after the seventh that I have the chance to work with a little more money before the shooting. Now, I’m trying to produce between 2 and 4 features a year, and as much short films more or less!

interview by Lydia Castellano (Spain) nisimazine kaunas // 28

spectrum shorts

The Companion

KM

Nation Estate

by Larissa Sanssour, Denmark / Palestine

by Álvaro Delgado-Aparício, Perú

Late Greek cinema has been rocking festival circuits with idiosyncratic films which eventually led to the somewhat misleading label “Weird”. Emerging filmmakers from the country of Plato and Aristotle just adjusted the style in order to be able to accurately reflect some maladies of current society, mostly within the border of their own country.

Larissa Sansour uses pop culture to explore, among other aspects, the complexity of living in the Middle East. In Nation Estate the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is dipped in the sauce of science fiction. The solution is found in a high-tech flat.

Masturbation is a lonely act. Painting is a lonely act too. Talking silences between two loners, a young man and his father, in a stunning effect, force themselves to be bound together in a perpetual conflict for survival, individuality, acknowledgment and love in every possible form.

by Christos Nikou, Greece

A highly evolved formal approach and intriguing aesthetics, maybe even the aesthetics of absurd, are underlining the works of Hellenic filmmakers. Christos Nikou follows in the footsteps of Babis Makridis, both in the laconic title as in the using of simple yet effective trope. km was screened in the section Preludes, so it could be considered, unhesitatingly, as a prologue to the enigmatic film L. They both even share the same main protagonist (Aris Servetalis). Man and woman trapped in a car in awkward and an emotionally depleted conversation. The series of close-up shots framing both faces does not build empathy but deepens the distancing of the protagonists. Nearly the exact approach as in L, however Makridis´ has developed a more distanced, so to say, Brechtian depersonalization. The undertones of the absurd sprawl until the final twist. km is a fine piece in the wake of the poetics forged by Nikou´s fellow-filmmakers. Judging from this it almost seems that the new generation of Greek auteurs tries to pay homage to the unforgettable and avowedly influential figure of Samuel Beckett Martin Kludáč (Slovakia)

nisimazine rotterdam shorts // 31

Since Larissa Sansour’s works are exhibited in the art world, the film Nation Estate is a multifaceted artwork. In a gallery the film would be shown together with photos of all the floors of the flat, which are not shown in the short. The film leaves a lot to the imagination when being watched without the photos in a cinema. Nonetheless, through this the viewer gains more liberty to fill in the gaps. The visuals of Nation Estate are amazing. Everything is over polished, as it is often done in science fiction. It seems impossible that this vertical solution will ever exist in reality, but who can imagine an end to this conflict at all? The absurdity makes it a quite humorous short film. Considering the sensitivity of the subject, the humour is unexpected, but a welcome change. Nation Estate is aesthetically pleasant to watch. Moreover, it is an interesting short quite different than what we are used to see from the Middle-East.

Zowi Vermeire (The Netherlands)

The story is set in a slum located in the outskirts of Lima, Peru, where a young man working as a male prostitute and his disabled father seem to share a love-and-hate relationship, forever trying to fight the dependency they appear to be trapped in. With a sparing, realistic approach to their everyday life and a beautiful use of light, which is softly shed upon the actors, we are naturally dragged into their grotesque and perverted world, which seems to just fit into the retablo, the traditional hand crafted Peruvian painting made in large numbers by the father. It is not the cruelty of love and harshness of life presented totally unpolished that makes this film overwhelming. It is the realism in which the story is told, its aphaeretic narrative, the actors’ captivating performances and the raw edges of the characters’ brilliant development.

Eirini Nikopoulou (Greece)

1978 the 231st Day

The Invisible World

by Sara Rajaei ,The Netherlands

by Jesse McLean, United States

On August 19th 1978 there was a fire in the Iranian city of Abadan. Almost 500 people were burned to death during the tragedy. The circumstances surrounding the event are unknown even today: who was responsible for it? Was it a terrorist attack or an accident? The mystery surrounding the fire became a fertile ground for all kinds of conspiracy theories, and supposedly was the trigger that sparked the Iranian revolution.

Pop art artists relied on western society’s fascination with consumer cultural artefacts to transform it into an aesthetic experience. In museums across the world stacks of boxes and painted soup cans stand back-toback with more “conventional art” forms: safely situated in the confines of art, they still incite curiosity and attention. Fast-forward a couple of decades to the present tense, when mobile phone cameras and videoplatforms enabled users to create the folk version of pop-art of their own, with hours of footage in which the content of kitchen drawers and shoe-closets get the infamous 15 minutes of fame when uploaded on Youtube for some to admire, some to wonder about and some to reappropriate.

The darkness surrounding the burning of the Rex Cinema also had an inpact on the lives of people whose relatives and friends got killed in the fire. Sara Rajaei’s 1978 the 231st day is a personal account of the event in which she lost her uncle. The film consists of only four elements: the voice over of the person who recalls the event from her childhood; the titles that synchronizedly follow her voice on screen; the black, (almost) neutral background; and the silent echoes of sad music. The reduction of style is followed by the reductions in the story: there are no explicit mentions of the facts surrounding the event, just a personal memory barred of all political plots to the feeling of sudden loss. On the first glance, there is nothing much cinematic in this work. But when seen in the large screen the piece creates an effect of mise-enabyme: the blackness from the screen starts to pour in the darkness of the cinema where we, the viewers, watch the film. And suddenly, we start to feel the eyes of fear lurking from the screen. Are we really safe in the film theater? Rajaei’s film language is reduced to the maximum effect, emphasizing the importance of viewing context and exploring its possibilities to create meaning and incite emotions.

Mario Kozina (Croatia)

Enter Jesse McLean, a media artist based in Chicago whose work often questions the way our perception of the world is influenced by the codes of visual media and pop-culture in general. In The Invisible World she uses the above mentioned footage and combines it with pop art style video portraits of objects from her own collection, recorded in close-ups in front of a kitchy pink background, and carefully lit, as if they were exhibited in the museum. The ways she combines the two mimics the syntax of science fiction films: the use of details, close-ups, point-ofview shots and soundtrack made (among other things) of crackling and mechanical sounds transforms these objects into alien artefacts from another planet, presented for the audience to observe with admiration, curiosity or dismay. McLean’s methods of reappropriation also include snippets from sci-fi movies from the 1970s, recorded interviews with media theorists and regular people and quotations from selected literature, which all adds up to a dystopian flavoured work whose intention is to point out the gray area in which our fascination with commodities starts to create new forms of behaviour, taste and values.

Mario Kozina (Croatia)

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Serra do Mar

Snow Tapes

by Iris Junges, Brazil

by Mich’ael Zupraner, Israel / Palestine

In literary theory there is a narrative device of an “all-knowing narrator“– a storytelling presence that knows everything there is to know about the fictional universe it creates through narration. Whereas in literature its medium of existence is words, in cinema that format is made of images and sounds. Both possess a certain number of possibilities and limitations, which Serra do mar plays with in a subtle, yet intriguing way.

Paying a visit to Palestinian family friends, the young visual artist Mich’ael Zupraner confronts memory records and reality to obtain an impressive description of muddy mind tricks we are used to employ without even noticing them.

The story takes place in Serra do mar, a beautiful and mysterious mountain range between the continental and coastal part of Brazil. Its protagonists are two men: one of them being a suspected arsonist, and the other watching him on the monitors in his room. However, like in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up (1966), getting closer to the image doesn’t necessarily mean we are getting closer to the truth. The relationship between the Watcher and the Watched basically reproduces the relationship between the films “narrator“ and the world it creates through images and sounds: the Watcher sometimes tells stories based on his impressions but completely devoid of plot and/or its conclusion, just like the film that we are watching nods towards the psychological tension and crime/mystery plot development, but ultimately remains open for interpretation. As opposed to the “all-knowing narrator“, the one in Serra do mar is limited by the frame of the surveillance camera and tells us very little about the events that took place, leaving us only with impressions and suggestions. The openness of the plot emphasizes the fact that in some stories the mystery is far more beautiful when the secret remains hidden.

Mario Kozina (Croatia)

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The device is as effective as only a good-looking split screen can be. Present time in the cosy living room on the left side, happy memories freshly recorded on videotapes on the right side. The link between them is the TV screen they are all looking at on the left: it shows the recorded memories we are actually watching on the right side, perfectly synchronized. They want to show Zupraner a violent incident that happened two days ago with their Jews neighbours, commonly named the “settlers”. The father is absolutely sure that it is recorded in the Snow Tapes; as it took place when some snow fell on the nearby olive grow. During the search, it appears that the scene itself was not actually recorded, but only the before and after moments, where the relationship with Jew neighbours seem more complex than expected at first. Father and children become confused discovering this surprising lack of evidences, and so do we. What do we remember? What has really happened? What will remain? What is important and what is insignificant? Beyond the obvious geopolitical reading Snow Tapes can have, this extremely touching artwork give us some interesting and universal clues related to family memories: one of the most flimsy pieces of mind we all have to deal with.

Lydia Castellano (Spain)

Writers: Lydia Castellano (Spain), Zowi Vermiere (The Netherlands), Martin Kludáč (Slovakia), Eirini Nikopoulou (Greece), Mario Kozina (Croatia), Fernando Vasquez (Portugal) photographer: Tina Remiz (Latvia) layout and photo edition: Lucía Ros Serra (Spain) Tatjana Vukelic (Serbia) original design: Maartje Adlers (Netherlands) Very special thanks to Peter Van Hoof and Lisa Gribling This is a publication of:

In collaboration with:

All images taken by Tina Remiz except Film stills and the ones accredited to IFFR

credits

editor: Fernando Vasquez (Portugual)

this is a publication of


Nisimazine Special: Rotterdam Shorts 2013