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Nisimazine

JANUARY 2015

ROTTERDAM

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Editorial Picture by Alina Ozerova Things Night Soil - Fake Paradise You’re Dead to Me Raymond Untitled (The City at Night) Greetings to the Ancestors Picture by Alina Ozerova Ben Russell Interview Quiet Zone Our Body The Many Colours of the Sky Radiate Forgetfulness Voice-Over Panachrome I, II, II Picture by Alina Ozerova The Living Need Light, the Dead Need Music Blinder Raking Light Swimming in Your Skin Again Picture by Alina Ozerova The Bible Time and Place, a Talk with My Mom Picture by Alina Ozerova + Credits


Editorial This year’s edition of the Rotterdam Film Festival brought us an unexpected surprise. There we were making ourselves mighty busy with the Short Film Tiger Awards competition, not paying much attention to the immensity of the rest of the program, that a major event almost went unnoticed. Juan Daniel F. Molero, a participant at Nisimazine’s workshop in Lima (Peru), back in 2009, had “squeezed’’ in the main feature competition, and guess what: it won the main award. By itself the news was enough to distribute a large grin amongst the NISI MASA tribe, yet we could hardly take any credit for it. But hang on a minute - wrote he in shamelessly self-promoting fashion. The last year or so has been filled with such news. Take Maartje Alders for instance, once a major driving force behind the endless machine that is NISI MASA, and Nisimazine particularly, and now an up and coming film producer based in the Middle East. Last November her film, Um Ghayeb: Mother of the Unbourn collected not one, but two of the main awards at the Shangri-la of the Documentary world, the FIPRESCI Award and Best First Appearance Jury Prize at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. Well done indeed. A few months before that Sara Ishaq, participant in Nisimazine Abu Dhabi, saw her short film Karama has No Walls nominated for an Oscar. What about Cristina Grossan, participant in Nisimazine Cannes, whose latest short film Holiday by the sea has been across the world collecting honors including at the Sarajevo Film

Festival. And if you really want to split hairs, just have a quick look at the other NISI MASA projects, such as the European Short Pitch, and you’ll find no shortage of success, with Una Gunjak’s The Chicken captivating all the attention lately, with selections at Cannes and Sundance, and in the middle winning the European Film Award for Best Short Film. To us this is a major deal. Anyone working in the youth sector will tell you how frustrating it can be to battle endlessly for new and better chances for young people and never finding palpable results in the short run. It takes time and patience, and these recent “victories” are the proof we needed. Obviously the credit goes to the artists, but the fact that the experiences we provided helped in the formation of such successes is a conquest in itself. I guess what I am trying to say is: congratulations to the aforementioned and other NISI MASA participants, your triumphs make us incredibly proud. These pages that follow deal with a different kind of victories and triumphs. Once again the IFFR short film competition provided us with intense experimental experiences and our dedicated team of young writers, photographers and video bloggers were there to witness it. Turn the page and you’ll find out all about it. Enjoy!

by Fernando Vasquez (Portugal)

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Things

review

Ben Rivers, United Kingdom

Tiger Awards Competition for Shorts With Things, already his nineteenth film presented at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Ben Rivers manages to confront us with a puzzling sort of selfportrait. Books, pictures and other objects that can be found in his room mingle with elements of the artist’s immediate experience such as his girlfriend reading or a squirrel behaving peculiarly in the garden. Indirect experience and direct experience are combined, all the elements becoming very personal and the film a highly intimate one. The film consists of four mesmerizing chapters and each of them corresponds to one of the seasons. There is a big contrast between the first three parts, which lets us glimpse disorientedly into the objects, books and pictures that hold an interest to the artist and the last one, which consists of a 3D rendering of the River’s house. The chapters Winter, Spring and Summer concentrate on the ‘things’ themselves, which are shown one after the other, whereas the last chapter, Summer, delivers a cold overall view of the house, of the place where all this ‘things’ are held. Among the things presented in the first three parts there are a book, Robert Pinget’s Fable (1971), a plethora of photographs, some of them film stills, stone statues and some found footage. Most attention is given to the Pinget’s novel. Its cover is shown multiple times and even drawn, an entire page is read and illustrations from the book are also presented. In Things, Rivers reflects on representation itself and, more precisely, on the capacity of the medium to create illusions. He often dynamizes photographs through the camera movement and by adding sound. A baby’s butt is accompanied by human voices expressing olfactory disgust or sounds of gunshots make the woman from another photograph appear to be hiding from gangsters. Rivers also moves backwards with camera, thus gradually unveiling the protagonists of some of the photographs and forcing us to rethink what we are seeing, thereby transforming our understanding of the image. We are reminded that these are the photographs when the focus of the camera is adjusted and the shiny surface of the picture becomes visible. Often illusions are created only to be destroyed shortly after. Such

is the case when the camera moves fervently across a picture of an eclipse, making it look like a moving eye. This illusion is destroyed and a new one created in the following shot, when we see the photograph on a stove, the sun’s light behind the moon seeming to come from one of the lit gas rings. Most of the ‘things’ Rivers chooses to show or let us hear seem to be connected through a common factor or a common theme. Most of them hint at something beyond understanding, perhaps even at the supernatural. Men look possessed or scared by the unknown forces (such as the man on the cover of Robert Pinget’s Fable), one can see incomprehensible gestures being made. We see footage of a man rolling down a mountain, a squirrel eating a squirrel made out of coconut. Unknown territories are also given a place in the film. At some point we hear a recording of a man recounting that messages have been sent into space, so that possible inhabitants of other planets might find them. There are several associations to be made when seeing Things. The squirrel eating a squirrel seems to connect somehow to the passage of the Fable that is read, the end of which describes an act of cannibalism. One could certainly discover new connections even on a thirteenth viewing of the film. Autumn, the last chapter of the film, presents the apartment and some of the things shown in the first three parts from a new perspective. Though we have seen these things before now they are violently estranged in this digitally created version of the apartment. The artist seems to attack himself, his own work and his previously presented objects of interest. We can interpret that we see the apartment through his eyes (unless it is a Carlos Reygadas sort of devil we are actually forced to identify with, such as the one in Post Tenebras Lux) and even enter the toilet with him, where he (or she or it) urinates. Things is certainly a film which offers multiple possibilities of perceiving it, being at the same time coherent and incomprehensible, intimate yet estragend, hypnotizing at all times. by Ioana Florescu (Romania)

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Night Soil Fake Paradise

Melanie Bonajo brought one of the most interesting works in the IFFR shorts competition. We sat down with her to discover all the details about her new film.

A lot of things are being written about ayahuasca. Why do you think it has become such a trend? There is a lot of isolation and loneliness Melanie Bonajo USA / among people, mainly because there is no connection with their environment since it The Netherlands is human, constructed. It leaves out other Tiger Awards Competitions for Shorts species and types of life and people are searching for connection to each other and their environment. They may also be looking for some meaning in life which is more than they are experiencing at the moment. In many ways ayahuasca can open some doors that are closed for us who live at this time. Review and Interview by Vicky Griva (Greece) 8

Do you think our connection with Nature is lost?

It depends on where you live in the world. For me it’s been a big quest all my life. There was this urgent feeling of something missing and it was provided to me in images by the National Geographic or Discovery Channel. I come from a postindustrial minor village where everything is about agriculture; trees are planned by human hands. There is no wilderness. Animals were domesticated. I felt there was something more but I was cut off from that. So my search is about what connecting to nature means, how does society look at it. It is really about respecting your environment, it is a mutual relationship and it is not an objectification. If one thing this medicine teaches is how we are part of a system, how we are being nurtured by it and how terribly we treat it. Where did you find the inspiration for the images in your film? There is a lot of flow, energy and inspira-


review

Melanie Bonajo is famous in the Netherlands and the global art scene for her unconventional and intriguing work. Her new short film opens a discussion about spirituality, sexuality and identity in today’s world and the cyberspace we choose to lose ourselves in. All of these come together in a very artistic visual interpretation of young people’s experiences with the psychedelic Amazonian plant ayahuasca, a recent trend. Ayahuasca is a drink, specifically a tea, which derives from an Amazonian jungle vine and is famous for curing multiple diseases, defeating phobias, but mostly offering an intense psychedelic effect. Many traditional and new shamanic practices have become more popular amongst many urban societies, resulting into a new way of experiencing spirituality, creating a new form called urban shamanism. Night Soil - Fake Paradise fearlessly explores the journeys of people who have tried the tea and presents very specific beliefs about our sexual and spiritual nature along with feminism and eco-behavior. Different stories of “journeying” and narrations flood in taking over the images we see, which themselves create this whole different dimension that otherwise we wouldn’t be able to imagine. The film consists of many different parts where the stories of the people unfold and are infused with shots of constructive art elements; a blindfolded girl tries to find her way in urban landscape, a young woman experiences cleansing rituals, a group of girls frustrated in digital reality and a conversation between ourselves and a plant. Melanie, who has participated in many exhibitions and has publi-

tion. I have a rough idea of what I want. I give suggestions to the girls performing and they improvise with that. I just throw things at them and they have to throw something back. It builds up slowly. It has to do with the group vibe. What have you learned through the process of making this film? It was amazing. We filmed with no budget, so everybody contributed because they believed in it. They support the vision of connection and spiritual growth, but also environmental consciousness and how to apply that. It was a very intuitive process and a very beautiful adventure. It also stimulated everybody who was connected to it. It was a kind of a growing massage, an organic thing evolving.

shed numerous books, is manipulating photography, visual arts, installations, performances and video in a very unique and unforeseen way, inviting us to dive into her own way of looking at the world. The film makes it essential to create an open conversation between us and the nature we so often ignore, inviting people to free themselves from any identity or roles they were given in life, urging them to define their own self and position in this world without any fear. Tough I know, but what if we could indeed build the foundation for a world that is free of conventions, limits, boundaries and restrictions, where art will discard the elements of feminine oppression and surrender - but mostly listen - to the voices of real expression? Melanie knows very well what she feels and believes and her confidence and perseverance are only inspirational. Some may doubt her film in the way it portrays those people’s visions and experiences or oppose on how can you actually interpret a vision. The issues she deals with vary and may be overwhelming to digest. How can spiritualism make sense when being paralleled to the modern narcissism of the internet? Can those two be combined or are they complete opposites? Think of this; in our everyday lives we are bombed by tones of information and we lose our focus, we do lose ourselves. Night Soil - Fake Paradise is a consistent and solid work of an artist who knows exactly what she is doing.

or film. These are voices that need to be encouraged. And to change it you need to be rational about it and keep on finding a balance. Women need an extra push for visibility. And what are your next plans? I am making a trilogy that deals with illegal things. The next film is about sex workers. Young girls who had a sexual awakening and since then started to do sexual healing. But it is illegal in the U.S. because officially is a form of prostitution. The third one is about radical agriculture like raw milk, butchering pigs that are not regulated and using actual night-soil.

Do you believe modern art gives enough space to the feminine element? There is never, ever enough space. In art 9


review

You’re Dead to Me

Ting Min-Wei, Singapore - Tiger Awards Competition for Shorts “I was very pissed off”. This is what Singaporean filmmaker answers to the question of why he chose You’re Dead to Me as title of his film debut. The convincing title was aimed to those building a huge road through a historic cemetery and not that hidden purpose of this beautifully shot and poetic film about life and death, spirituality and the importance of keeping the memory of the past alive. The Bukit Brown burial ground was the largest Chinese cemetery built outside of China, dated from the early 20th century. This cemetery hosts (well, hosted) more than 100.000 graves, amongst which we can find Singapore’s pioneering immigrants and war heroes. In 2012, the government decided to build an eight-lane road through a part of it, needing to remove some of the graves resting there. Part of the history of Singapore was going to disappear to become cement and pollution, disturbing the tranquillity and the perfect harmony of the ancestors with nature. This is what was pissing Ting Min-Wei off, who managed to transform this rage into a beautiful tribute, and at the same time a protest, to this ancient resting place.

The filmmaker himself wanders around this forest where the graves seem integrated with it. He lies down over one of them and rests quietly as if trying to hear what the dead are saying during a 5-minute shot. He barely moves as the day gets darker and we listen to the sound of the forest. Even if it may seem boring, this long shot leaves the audience enough space to think and reflect about what he or she is watching: the perfect communion between life, dead, ghosts and the forest. The cemetery belongs to that forest as the dead do to the living and vice versa. The man appears among the trees and approaches the camera in complete silence. When he gets to it he stares directly at the lens, almost in challenging fashion, that shows us in a short-reverse shot the pictures of the dead in the graves. Ting Min-Wei manages to establish a triangle conversation where nature, memory and life become the same thing and the only ghosts we see, more likely zombies, are the cars passing by the new inanimate eight-lane road.

One understands immediately the magic behind this place at the same time that Min-Wei shows it to us, always playing with the contrast of nature and the human footprint in the form of a road, mixing the sound of the forest and its different birds with the traffic crossing the highway and even the planes overflying the quiet and peaceful memorial park. by Lucía Ros Serra (Spain) 10


review

Raymond

Nina Yuen, USA - Tiger Awards Competition for Shorts In Raymond, artist Nina Yuen creates a soft and playful portrait of her father, giving us insights into his very mathematical and at times poetical way of understanding the world. The father’s voice can be heard almost throughout the film. He mainly presents the results of his calculations, these calculations seeming to be his main means of grasping the importance certain actions hold in his life and even his main method of understanding the world. Calculating the calories that his farm produced, he realizes that he has produced more calories than he would be able to eat in two lifetimes. The miles travelled while commuting equal driving almost four times around the world, he reckons. It is also through computation he ascertains that his daughter, the maker of the film, has grown one millimeter a week before reaching the age of fifteen. The father also presents his theory about the creation of the world, the consequences of the invention of the number zero and of categorizing and naming things. However, a less rational aspect of his personality is disclosed, when he describes the little fantasies he had as a child, such as imagining that power poles were instrument chords and while playing guitar he can bend trees with his fingers. A softer side of his character is also revealed in the film’s most emotional passage. The father talks about the sleeping behavior of his daughter as a baby and we see old pictures of the two of them sleeping. In Raymond images do little more than simply illustrate the spoken text. When the father speaks about his farm, we see the fruits his farm produces being picked up. When he enumerates

some of the books he owns, we see the covers of those books. The realization that his daughter has grown one millimeter a week is accompanied by images of the door frame on which her height at different ages is marked. Whenever the talk does not revolve around palpable things, Yuen decides to show into blurry details that are loosely connected to the subject. Images of a running car shot out of the window, rain on the windshield, blurred lights are some examples thereof. An enumeration of the people her father knew who now are dead is accompanied by shots of dead leaves, flowers and fruits, each one corresponding to one of the deceased. Symbolic replacements are thus also employed. Illustration is even employed when the narrator recounts a conversation he once had with his daughter on the porch. As visual material accompanying those words, we get the situation of that conversation re-enacted, the filmmaker and the man we assume is her father even moving their lips to the described dialogue. Throughout the film, frontal shots of the person we assume is the father can rarely be seen. We have no certainty that it is actually the father we are seeing, nor that the father was still alive at the time the film was shot. Raymond ends with images shot in a graveyard and the narrator singing a song. Nina Yuen handles difficult themes such as death, time and memory in a light, playful and harmless manner, at the same time as indirectly revealing the way in which her upbringing shaped her understanding of the world. by Ioana Florescu (Romania) 11


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Untitled (The City at Night)

review

Ane Hjort Guttu, Norway

Tiger Awards Competition for Shorts Ane Hjort Guttu has always been interested in finding a balance between documentary and fiction through her video work. She likes studying and observing art, enhancing its social and political power, believing it is mostly a tool. Untitled (The City at Night), her latest film, is a portrait of an anonymous artist whose life artwork consists of thousands of drawings inspired by her numerous late night walks. This work has never been shown to anybody. We get introduced to the artist through an interview with the director. Hesitant at the beginning to open up about herself and her work, she slowly starts revealing what it is about her art and personality she is trying to conceal. On a black screen we witness fragments of stories of this woman, of how she ended up being completely disconnected from the art scene she was part of. Working at an art gallery, while also working at a homeless shelter collided so intensely that she became an outcast of her own life. Talking bravely about the vanity of art, Ane Hjort Guttu has chosen a very compelling story of an artist who insists on denying to show her work and identity. In the film we get a glimpse of her enormous work with stills of her drawings, her scores, as she calls what she has been creating for the last 20 years. They are like musical notes, every drawing is soundless without the rest of the scores. But together they create the best music ever written. And she is the only who can orchestrate this music and knows how it sounds. The escaping from the art world made her realize how pretentious it has become and how she and her work could never be a part of it. But we do wonder; does she ever considers of exposing some of her work? And how can actually a piece of artwork have a meaning if it never gets exhibited?

lize their work to be exhibited and appreciated one day. Not her. She believes strongly that the magnitude of her work’s value is when nobody sees it. This is when everything makes sense and the art is priceless. Because if people look at it and judge it, some of the magic in the process of creating it is lost. And the artist loses pieces of herself every single time. Untitled (The City at Night) is an interesting close look of what kind of elements an artist’s world consists of. This woman lost faith in the world she was supposed to believe in. She vanished and withdrew in herself and her art. She started making long walks in the middle of the night in search of conflict and depth. Something that would restore her trust in life. And all those moments and situations she encountered at night were decoded in her drawings. Those scores are somehow a reflection of her own self, life and work. They are her way of reinventing her whole existence. There is a paradox though. Why is she actually showing us parts of her work? She states the film works as a shield for her art, for her work can be fully understood and interpreted only if it is shown in its full context. And the last scene is revealing. This woman is not creating art for the sake of showing it. She is making art only to express her inner need to depict particles of life. And this is stronger than any other impulse or convention. The artist here manages to demolish the walls we have built in our own restrained lives. She let her life being led by the strong urgency of her art, her need of expression and not by other people’s conventions. And her work, but mostly her stand against art, is showing what Ane Hjort Guttu is searching for; that artwork is basically a critical and political tool. And when it stops being observed and judged, then it can only be read as social criticism of itself and what it ever represented.

The magnificence in this short film is how the nature of art is being questioned. Thousands of artists visuaby Vicky Griva (Greece) 13


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review

Greetings to the Ancestors Ben Russell, USA/South Africa/UK Tiger Awards Competition for Shorts

After having shot Let Us Persevere in What We Have Resolved Before We Forget on the island of Tanna, a Melanesian archipelago and Atlantis in Malta, Ben Russell decided to put an end to his trilogy The Garden of Earthly Delights with the intricate Greetings to the Ancestors, which is set in a region between Swaziland and South Africa. Russell’s trilogy deals with the ecstatic limits of utopia in the present and is profoundly impregnated by the writings of Thomas More.

is a double one, when the camera reaches the house and enters it. Inside we find the storyteller. The theory regarding the identity of the camera that the viewer might have developed is torn to pieces. At the same time, the scene represents an acoustic shock. The man talks on, we hear his voice as well as we had heard it outside, while the house was still to be seen from the distance. Russell thus forces the viewers to rethink what they see and hear, to question both image and sound.

Greetings to the Ancestors encompasses bewildering retellings of unusually profound dreams certain inhabitants of a small community experienced after having consumed Silene Capensis, the so called African Dream Root. However, the film does not commence with the presentation of those dreams (though it may be interpreted like that), but with violent sounds of a traditional ritual which accompany the black screen. The images that follow show scenes from ceremonies and/or traditional rituals. One of the events resembles more of a Christian mass, the other one seems more traditionally African. People dance in a tent where images are at times accelerated, the cuts abrupt. Multiple sound layers accentuate the agitation of the mystical events.

In all, there are four dreams recounted. One has to pay attention in order to notice when one dream ends and the next one begins. The dreams revolve around meeting the girl of dreams (as told by a woman); walking through a forest and encountering a tiger; winning a box fight; encountering a spider while preparing snuff. Only in the case of the first storyteller are we given the opportunity to connect right from the beginning a face to the voice we are hearing. Even in that case, the viewer is disoriented by the storyteller herself, who appears to tell the dream from the perspective of a man. With the other dreams, Russell intentionally and skillfully causes confusion himself through cinematic means. During the narration of the dreams we see images of the African landscape, a wonderfully incomprehensible shot of a hooded man walking towards a burning mountain, zebras filmed through red plastic filters.

Throughout the film, Russell uses sound and hand-held camera in unsettling ways. With the retelling of dreams, disorientation reaches its highest point. The power realtionships between camera and filmed subjects shift violently and the identity of the camera is toyed with. In the film’s most puzzling scene, we hear one of the storytellers recounting his dream. Even if the images do not illustrate what we hear (the camera moves towards a house, the movement of the body holding it is unignorable), there emerges the impression that we are seeing the world through the narrator’s eyes. The shock

One is left with countless questions regarding this complex and highly disturbing film through which Russell also reminds us that categorizing films as documentaries and fiction is a waste of time.

by Ioana Florescu (Romania

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Interview with

Ben Russell by Ioana Florescu (Romania)

We caught up with Ben Russell after an unusual masterclass and had the chance to ask him a few things about his most recent film, Greetings to the Ancestors. Greetings to the Ancestors is the third part of your trilogy called The Garden of Earthly Delights. Could you talk a bit about the idea behind this trilogy? The title is taken directly from the painting by Hieronymus Bosch which is a three-panel image made a very long time ago. It depicts Eden, Heaven and Hell and the style rendering it is very Christian. It’s not very clear which is which, and where these things exist. So it seemed like a really good framework, like another level to think about these three films together, as all are attempts to produce some kind of earthly paradise or utopia in the contemporary moment. The first film of the trilogy is Let Us Persevere in What We Have Resolved Before We Forget which is shot in Vanuatu and deals with cargo cult mythology but also has a bit of Samuel Beckett within it. And the second film is Atlantis, which is a kind of imagining of what Thomas More’s Utopia would be like if it were happening in the present. In fact, Atlantis deals with what the limits of utopia might be. The third section, Greetings to the Ancestors is a bit more directly spiritual and posits another kind of energy within the space of the film. That energy is maybe Christian, maybe non-Christian but definitely looks towards the invisible world, towards embodiment. There are many dreams recounted in your film. How did you decide in which order they should be presented? How do they connect with each other? I actually didn’t know what anybody was saying until I got back and had it all translated. I was not at all interested in 18


the translation and the interpretation of dreams. I just wanted the people who had had a profound experience to speak about that experience in the first person as much in the present tense as it could be. So that is what I asked each of these people to do. The woman who speaks at the beginning did not do that. She misunderstood, I think, or it was mistranslated. So she actually talks more about her origin as a single human being. It is like a radical surprise. It was sort of a gift to get that because it actually sets the frame for these other things that happen. I think the remarkable thing about being open to possibilities is that you can be really pleasantly surprised. Things happen, you know? They work out and they work out… really profoundly. Why did you choose to use a hand-held camera? And how does this choice influence the perspective of the film? In some way it is really practical just to go with the camera and not bring a tripod and to be able to have your own recording with you and do everything yourself. If I had wanted or needed to have a tripod or a dolly, I would simply have rented one. But it was with the hand-held camera that I envisioned being in this place and moving through there. So I would be the primary presence and the relationships that happen between myself and these people would be initiated and activated through me, through the camera, through this particular kind of agreements. For me the most striking image of the film is the first image of this woman, the first storyteller. I’m six feet two, which is pretty tall, and with the camera I need to stand up straight, so I’m even taller and she probably came up to my chest. Which meant that when I was filming her, I was looking down on her. That creates a particular kind of power perspective. I kept it in the film because when the woman turns and begins to speak or each time she actually turns and looks at the camera, the place

where that power is located shifts. I think it is really important to have those moments take place where physics or theory is seeded. But for me it’s much more important to have my subjects do things they want to do and not what I want them to do, or rather not have them do things. I don’t feel like cinema (or my cinema) is so important that it’s worth offending people or being an asshole. But it totally determines the way I interact with people. The subtitles you use are almost transparent at some times, as in other films of the trilogy. Why did you decide to make them look like that? With these three films it was kind of a strategy, it was a formal thing meant to link them together. But in the first two parts of the trilogy, the text is sometimes altered. In Atlantis there is a sequence where some men are singing and the text is not what they are singing but it appears to be it when they are saying it. It’s a mistranslation. It’s credited, at the end it says „subtitles from Thomas More’s Utopia”. So I think there are two intentions regarding the subtitles. Firstly, a formal one. Secondly, subtitles are usually presented as evidence, so as the audience we never have any reason to question this. They’re there, they tell us what is being said, so we never think that there is some kind of manipulation happening. But when the text recedes, it becomes part of the image. I feel like I have avoided using dialogue and text for a long time in my work, in part because that’s always where knowledge is located and so it supersedes everything else, it has an authority over image and sound. So for me using subtitles in this manner is a way to resist all that and to allow the text to be image, to have you follow it in hopefully the same way. It’s there, it’s part of the film.

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Quiet Zone

review

Karl Lemieux, David Bryant, Canada Tiger Awards Competition for Shorts

Did you know that there’s a disease called electromagnetic hypersensitivity and that it is related with the extreme feeling and fear to the electromagnetic fields produced by different electronic devices? Canadians Karl Lemieux and David Bryant make an interesting and beautiful effort to approach the audience to this illness in their first film collaboration together, Quiet Zone, presented in the Tiger Awards Short Competition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam. The film follows two women in their struggle to find their own quite zone, far from any electromagnetic spectrum that seem to get them in a deep, uncomfortable state that makes having a normal life almost unbearable. This electromagnetic sensitivity obliges them to find a place free of these radiations, fact almost impossible nowadays. The only place that seems welcoming for them and their rare condition is Green Bank, an area that belongs to West Virginia in the United States, where is located a huge radio telescope, part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. Used to receive data from outer space to anticipate the weather forecast and other kind of scientific research, the perfect operation of this telescope requires no interferences from radio signals or wi-fi anthems. The result is an almost 337.000 hectare area known as the National Radio Quiet Zone where wi-fi and radio are completely forbidden. Even if there are studies proving this syndrome, it doesn’t has an official diagnosis and sometimes it’s not even consider a thing, which leads those affected by it towards an impotence feeling about how they will be able to live their lives. Through a voice-over recorded in tape, the two women relate their stories from the first time they felt the electromagnetic spectrum till they are settled down in the quite zone, feeling safer but still not understood by the society. The filmmakers followed the characters in their day by day battle to help them to make their illness visible.

The voice-over of the two women accompanies a beautiful series of images, shot in chemically manipulated 35 mm film that follows the two women in their routines in their isolated houses and new natural environment and filming landscapes full of electricity cables and posts, gigantic telescopes or typical American residential areas. The chemical manipulation of the film endows an interesting, powerful and sensitive visual character full of color and weird forms appear near to the figures and landscapes that has no other objective than “making visible the invisible” as Karl Leminieux explained himself after the screening in Rotterdam. Karl Lemieux, educated in film and author of many experimental films, and David Bryant, musician and sound designer, are both members of the post-modern Canadian band Godspeed You! Black Emperor and make, in Quiet Zone their first film collaboration together (for Bryant it is even his film debut). This band combines live music with film performances which help us to understand how the filmmakers divided the work during the creation and post-production process of the film. The result is this almost phantasmagoric and hypnotic fable where the corroded film creates grey forms and weird waves between the filmed figures and spaces. Electric images and colors that walk imperceptible among human beings and nature thanks to Lemieux’s work accomplishing to make visible the invisible electromagnetic spectrum. And all of it reinforced by the voice of the women and the soft electro music created by Bryant that convinces us that that’s how electricity might sound like. Quiet Zone is a distortion of reality, a beautiful and sensitive approach to the struggle and pain of people suffering from this rare disease and their need of a liberated radiation-free zone to live, that thanks to the filmmakers it seems kind of a poetic place. by Lucía Ros Serra (Spain)

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review

Our Body

Dane Komljen, Serbia/Germany - Tiger Awards Competition for Shorts Our Body by Bosnian director Dane Komljen has been selected by the jury of the Tiger Awards Competition for Short Films to be nominated for the European Film Academy Best Short Film in the next edition of the awards. A huge step for the career of this philosophical and metaphorical film about contrast, inevitable deterioration of modern life and how, after all, the mind will always survive the body and the destruction of the time. An interesting premise for an interesting narrative and juxtaposition of images, sounds and voice but that gets too philosophical and makes the audience reject it after its powerful beginning: a detonation. The first image we see is a building being detonated to be immediately contrasted by a mass of soft wool on a table. The first big contrast before being deep in what looks like a nursing home: its isolation, its corridors full of unanimated figures and their routine, perfectly pictured by a man washing a white shirt in a bucket of water, getting it in and out, with monotonous movements and sounds. Soon, a voice-over starts describing a quiet and ordered and natural place juxtaposed with images of this deteriorated and almost abandoned nursing house. By the time the extremely literary voice says: “From here, you can see everything: the sea to the right, the mountains to the left, the sky in between”, the audience is aware of how everything has its essential order and

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it’s not here by chance, and that even if the body or the organic will disappear, the material and the modern will remain the same. Our Body follows the obsession of the cleanliness and the impossibility of it in modern times, dirty spaces, fires and human attempts to keep themselves clean: the shirt scene or the long final scene where, as spies, we observe how a man washes himself carefully, starting with his head, followed by his arms and finishing with his legs and feet. An abrupt ending for an abrupt beginning, closing the coherent but too abstract circle about the short stay of the human beings on Earth and their impact on nature. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to extract a final, clear and definitive conclusion about Our Body due to its extremely metaphorical and philosophical approach to one of the basic questions of humanity: the ephemeral sense of life, that can get the audience a bit lost in this weird and isolated place.

by Lucía Ros Serra (Spain)


Nisimazine 2015 March: Diagonale (Graz, Austria) April: IKSV (Istanbul, Turkey) May: Cannes (France) July: Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic) August: Venice (Italy) September: San Sebastian (Spain) November/December: Tallinn Black Nights (Estonia)

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The Many Colours of the Sky Radiate Forgetfulness

review

Basim Magdy, Egypt/Germany

Tiger Awards Competition for Shorts The Many Colors... is a poetic film collage by an aspiring visual artist Basim Magdy (originating from Egypt and residing in Basel), who is currently cruising the world with exhibitions from London to New York and Sydney. The film was commissioned by Mémoires perdues project commemorating the centenary of WWI and the victims of air raids in Karlsruhe – a town in Southwest Germany. And here is the question - despite the archive studies and interviews how much an outsider can understand about a traumatic event of the distant past? About the past that has no living witnesses as the survivors have been buried long time ago. About the place where ‘the memories of one war are overshadowed by those of its successor’. As a result, the artist’s lens is the one the observers who are floating in the thin air with birds and airplanes. In fact, it doesn’t focus on a specific date or event, but takes the frailty and the evanescence of memory as a leit-motif of the visual research. In this film, as well as in his previous ones, Basim Magdy is ‘freezing time’ through giving it the materiality of celluloid. The physical corps of the film might be easily altered with household bleaches and detergents. Doing that, Magdy, both aesthetically and metaphorically, probes the resistance of the film material and looks for an unexpected tint to appear. The filmmaker completes his experiments with superimposed images with reflective and somewhere surreal inter-text bringing in references to the time, the shadows, and the colors of the sky. ‘Loss becomes a tradition for the forgetful’, it says. The giants - colossal monuments in granite or bronze – do they smell like

death for the living? Visible but mute, resistant to wind and rain, but not to the structural amnesia or the flood of instant information. In his approach to the notions of waiting, forgetfulness and destruction not only monuments or landscapes, but also taxidermy is an important element of Magdy’s visual language. That we already could have noticed in his earlier film The Dent - another 16mm mémoire which recently received a New:Vision Award at CPH:DOX festival. Recurrent images of stuffed animals and birds, being artifacts and a part of nature, are an ambiguous metaphor. They will last as long as the organic elements constructing bones, skin, teeth and fur need to decay. So, where do the recollections migrate when their physical bearers get destroyed by time or another disaster? Do they merge with the landscape or echo in the wildlife voices? The disquieting soundtrack finds a room for natural elements – splashes of water and burning matter which combination of which makes the whole audiovisual experience even more uncanny towards the end. From the times when stones and bronze were the only containers of the collective memory controlled by the official power, we have passed a long way to the digital world, where information is easily shared and stored in the ‘clouds’ as well as on individual devices. Unlike the stones they have no geographical fixation. Unlike the stones they can be easily and numerously erased and updated. Unlike the stones, they probably will not survive the next hundred years. by Alina Ozerova (Russia)

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review

Voice-Over

Roy Villevoye, The Netherlands - Tiger Awards Competition for Shorts It seems that there is something going on between ancestors and rituals and the selection committee of the Tiger Awards Competition for Short Films as we have seen the topic treated in different and flamboyant ways: Greetings to the Ancestors by Tiger Award winner Ben Russell, You’re Dead to Me by Ting Min-Wei or even Night Soil – Fake Paradise by Mélanie Bonajo are proof of that. Voice-Over by Dutch Roy Villevoye couldn’t be less and ends up being homage to a dead tribe member at the same time as brutal criticism about how these minority villages are treated by the Occidental world gains voice Former winner of the Tiger Award for Short Film at IFFR in 2006 for his work Beginnings, it is well known for the interest in the West Papua culture and traditions where he has been travelling since 1992. These trips have been reflected in his films on several occasions, and in Voice-Over, Villevoye tells us about his deep connection and relationship with this land and its people and the cultural crashes he faces. On the 5th May 2011, Onomá, a beloved member of a tribe from the Asmat Region in Papua New Guinea, died. In December 2012, Onomá’s friends and family, including Roy Villevoye, started a tradition: the carving of a tree to create a tribute sculpture that Villevoye will take with him to Holland. There, he will ‘sell’ it to a foundation that won’t pay him back for it, provoking a double standards conflict: the sentimental value of a symbol of life as the sculpture is and the controversial problem of our days, money.

In Voice-Over we start by seeing a group of men of the tribe taking a canoe and sailing to a tropical rainforest, where they select the perfect tree. While singing crazy tribal songs, laughing and crying for their loss, they select and cut a tree and remove its bark. The men take the tree trunk back to the village in their canoes with the ritualesque monotonous sound of the rowing. At their arrival, they begin the carving of the trunk and we start listening to a voice-over of a telephone conversation. A man claims to be a representative of a foundation tha offers an amount of money for a sculpture with big sentimental value. The foundation man says it was a donation when, actually, it wasn’t. The previous owner of the sculpture hangs up when he can get an agreement. This conversation is a reconstruction of, what we think, was a real phone call. The most interesting part is that at the time we listen to this telephonic fight we see the big efforts of the tribe to create a beautiful sculpture to celebrate the life of their extinct friend. A huge contrast between two different worlds where the importance of things is valued in a different way. Villevoye finishes his work focusing all the attention in the finished sculpture and how the people from the tribe talk to it as if it were their dearest dead friend: “Onomá, Roy is very attached to you. He will mourn your loss back in Holland”. With Voice-Over, Roy Villevoye builds a powerful message about friendship and the essential things of life by showing us two opposite worlds. by Lucía Ros Serra (Spain)

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review

Panachrome

T. Marie, USA - Tiger Awards Competition for Shorts Transdisciplinary artist T. Marie, already quite familiar with the festival circuit overall and with the Toronto International Film Festival in particular due to her work in which she combines film, painting and animation, faces us once again with pixel paintings. As she once explained, a time-based pixel painting is a digital painting created through a unique process she developed that works with the intrinsic properties of a pixel. What we see looks like abstract paintings, the colours slowly flickering. In Panchrome I, II, III, the artist confronts us with three such paintings, each one displaying a different colour palette. The colours differ according to the source T. Marie used, according to what material she has chosen to be processed by the computer program she relies on in order to create her works. The three segments of the film are marked off by simple white writing on a black foreground, which announces what we are going to see next (Panchrome I, Panchrome II, Panchrome III). Though very abstract, after a few minutes’ contemplation, the paintings might start to remind the viewer of famous or less famous conventional (oil or other substance on canvas) paintings. Whether this was intended or not is unclear, but the artist does have a background in digitally abstracting famous paintings such as J. M. W. Turner’s The Slave Ship, Claude Monet’s Nymphéas or Édouard Manet’s Olympia. However, the association might just be an attempt of the mind to make sense out of something that

should not be understood, but simply contemplated and enjoyed. As the pixels lose their intensity at different times, peculiar illusions are created. The pixel painting we see on the screen seems to be a loose painted canvas moving in the wind. The pixel painting we see on the screen seems to be a loose painted canvas, lit at intervals by the sun. The pixel painting we see on the screen seems to be a coloured canvas on which water reflects light. All these elements- light, water and wind- have, of course, nothing to do with the actual creation process of Panchrome I, II, III. These are merely illusions, yet they raise several questions. How far can something as artificial as Panchrome I, II, III, something completely dependent on technology, reach out in the direction of provoking sensory impressions until recently closely related to nature? As Panchrome I, II, III is not Avatar and its manner of creating illusions is infinitely more subtle, its consequences are much more dangerous. Are they dangerous? Does Panchrome I, II, III belong in the cinema? Why not? Ultimately, it is a beautiful object to behold. But is it film? Why?

by Ioana Florescu (Romania)

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The Living Need Light, the Dead Need Music

review

The Propeller Group, Vietnam

Tiger Awards Competition for Shorts The Living Need Light, the Dead Need Music takes us to the world of funeral traditions and rituals from the city of Ho Chi Minh in south Vietnam to New Orleans, creating an invisible bridge between two different worlds and engaging a vibrant dialogue for the sense of ‘global south’. The Propeller Group, consisting of artists Phunam, Matt Lucero and Tuan Andrew Nguyen, is an artistic collective team creating visual art, film and video combinations focusing on popular culture. In their latest 21-minute long film they let their imagination flourish in a bizarre musical journey towards life and death. With its profound eccentricity The Living Need Light, the Dead Need Music phrase taken from a Vietnamese proverb, provokes our interest by introducing us to real footage of strange funeral traditions and their imaginary reenactments in Vietnam. The Propeller Group, famous for their ambitious art projects and their idiosyncratic art character, created this cultural elegy full of colors, kitsch outfits, music vibrations and queer outcasts. With the compelling music of the Tien Dat Brass Band, the journey starts in Ho Chi Minh, following the grief and pain people encounter when their beloved is gone. A unique celebration of death in South Vietnam connects the South with the other side of the world, diminishing any kind of cultural borders and enhancing the term of the non-locality, where we all belong to each other and nowhere at the same time. The connection created, linking those two different universes, is made with the help of a boy who transforms into an exotic dancer, representing the death of one person and the rebirth of a new one. The course of our lives is often traumatized when we experience death

because we begin observing the world differently. Grief defines our lives and death changes us. It is as if a piece of ourselves dies only to be reborn again brand new. There is no sense of time or space when reenacting a ritual. Following the lead of the band, people who mourn and participate in a funeral, the dancer boy and so many others create a new sense of space and time. They are becoming multiple things and they exist in multiple places. The essence of belonging and being part of a vibrant human community is evident. ‘Global South’ is what The Propeller Group uses when cultures and people unite in a mutual journey from grief to happiness. They united two cosmoses with their filmin a musical mishmash trying to define how life makes sense when death takes over. With their profound work the group of artists proves how art can bring together separate elements, combine them and develope them into a vigorous illusion. What The Propeller Group does in their short film, it does in their art. Through their vast work the three artists are trying to be the intermediate between two separate worlds; the art world and the media reality, connecting other artists from around the world and demolishing cultural limits. And so far they are succeeding. One of the things that will be hard for me to forget from their film is how life is trying hard to imitate death and how society is trying hard to let go of the different when it should embrace it, welcoming the new, the eccentric, the diverse.

by Vicky Griva (Greece) 31


review

Blinder

Tim Leyendekker, Netherlands/Brazil - Tiger Awards Competition for Shorts The opening credits of the film by video artist and Rotterdam resident Tim Leyendekker remind me of some bizarre lab experiment documentation, with precise numbers and impersonal descriptions drawn on a pure white background. It employs 6386 black and white images of objects derived from the novel Blindness by a Portuguese writer José Saramago. The meticulous study of the text results into the artistic interpretation of its key features starting from the full list of nouns and ending in a dark universe of pain, authority and distortion. This visually consistent voyage into the world of the famous novel with a clear pacing flux and remarkable composition of individual frames on 16mm is accompanied by an abstract soundtrack designed with micro-samples from the film adaptation (Blindness, 2008) by Fernando Meirelles. But one shouldn’t be scared off by seemingly formal conceptual decisions. The fixed starting points of the film give enough room to create an incredible cognitive and physical experience. Blinder functions as a retina-scouring tool. After the first couple of minutes of quieter editing it directly demands the viewer to surrender to the hurricane pacing. The grainy, sometimes slightly blurred, but extremely cinematic still photography is the only visual mean offered to us. But what happens in between the images, which are furiously superimposed into each other, is the main pleasure and pain of the film. Sickness and oppression,

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poor food, people’s faces merging with measuring tools, hospital, army, danger, nudity, trauma, innocence – these are the instant impressions bombarding our vision. Giving too little time to the brain to process the individual images and re-construct the intention of the narrative, Tim Leyendekker is physically pushing us into the experiment situation. The solidarity with images starts shaping out the inevitable stream of monochrome imagery mercilessly flashed into the viewers’ eyes while we are ‘imprisoned’ in a dark cinema room. After a while I begin learning the repetitions and can recognize visual combinations. And a feeling rises that it almost programs me to ‘read’ the pairs as if they were elements of a new language: woman + scissors, military officer + torture stick, hand reaching out + revolver. The narrative thread is gradually building up somewhere inside of me. And after the basics are incorporated the film introduces more and more of human destruction, equipped with knives, ropes and strings. And minute by minute horror and despair are burning out blind spots on my eye’s retina. But it’s impossible to stop watching it. by Alina Ozerova (Russia)


review

Raking Light

James Richards, Germany - Tiger Awards Competition for Shorts Raking light is a technique used in revealing the surface texture of a painting where an intense light source discloses any kind of imperfections and is widely used to conserve and examine closely a piece of art. James Richards presents abstractly this technique as his main focus in his latest 6-minute short film Raking Light. Richards was nominated for the 2014 Turner Prize, Britain’s prestigious art award, for his previous short film Rosebud (2013), a film collage of close-ups of art books in a Tokyo library. Richards’ acclaimed work consists of a variety of video installations playing with images and music. With his unique way of manipulating images and visual language he combines his own footage he shoots with his digital camera and archival footage, all of it accompanied by his self-produced music. Raking Light is elevated through its elemental base. Earth, air, fire and water are combined together creating a poetical interpretation of movement, loneliness and nature. Six minutes may look short, but its grandiose, symmetrical at times, kinetic intensity creates a vast gap between the beginning and the end; it feels like ages. And when it ends you crave for one more screening just to be able to capture its deepest truth. With a negative treatment of the film every shot is appearing to be separated from the rest and yet all together make absolute sense. This notion of constant movement in the film - especially through water - kept reminding me the words of ancient philosopher Heraclitus «Panta rhei» meaning «everything flows» in an attempt to define nature’s incredible ability of moving only forward and

evolving. The constant streaming. With negative images of trees exploding with black fireworks, black fire smoke and massive waterfalls Richards’ close look at the texture of things in nature can only be paralleled with the work’s title, where raking light is used closely on art texture defining faults and mistakes. How can you do the same with life? Can you identify faults in nature? Through repetition and negative representation of the elements, one can get lost in those different reflections of things, of our own reality. Eight squares contemplate diverse realities or better to say how differently each of us look at the world and all those transforming powers. The way images are being manipulated and composed provokes our constant attention, influencing our inner thoughts, demanding in an urgent way to melt and reshape our own feelings. Richards is using his own produced music which compiles of menacing sounds and particles of natural sounds. A medley of wind, breaths, bubbles, bird screams, water and tripping sounds can only elevate the experience of Raking Light making us lose our moods into this swirling and powerful short film. He has managed somehow to form an evocative statement over ourselves and the the natural world, where we not only search constantly for flaws under thousands of lights, but we try to correct those faults with our very own hands by destroying every natural surrounding. This is our raking light. James Richards is exhibiting this year in Australia (Biennale of Moving Images 2015), in Hamburg (Ars Viva 2014/2015) and at the MoMA in New York (Cut to Swipe). by Vicky Griva (Greece) 33


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Swimming in your Skin Again

review

Terence Nance, USA

Tiger Awards Competition for Shorts American artist Terence Nance received global acclaim for his first feature film An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (2012) participating in the Bright Future section and in the New Frontier section of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival with his «one-sided nonfiction» film as he calls it himself. He grew up in a vibrant artistic environment with his mother being an actress and his father a photographer. His natural inclination towards performances, installations, writing music and making films and music videos came genuinely. This year he came to Rotterdam with his latest short film Swimming in your Skin Again, an intense musical celebration of female spirituality. The opening scene of Nance’s short film, consisting of multiple shots of religions and beliefs around the globe, gives an intense impression on what you are about to experience. With the overwhelming statement «...and it means nothing» referring to the content of the film you are invited to dive into this mystical journey of the spiritual element in our lives without any prejudice or personal thoughts. You are invited to free yourself and get lost in it. Located in South Florida, the landscape and constant intensity of the surroundings create an atmosphere full of mystical secrets and energy. A young couple wanders around dressed in yellow participating in ceremonies, expressing their thoughts via interesting dialogues, dancing but mostly sensing themselves and what surrounds them. The film explores avidly our spiritual nature and our inner need to never stop searching till we find the answers to our oldest questions. This never-ending quest of who we are and how we can explain the world we live in seems to trouble Nance a lot. By choosing a group of young boys wondering in a forest, guided by an old lady, he talks about the elemental search for answers and how we never give up. God and religion here are referred

as not something ultimate but as something continual, a transformation, a change that characterizes nature and ourselves. This film is not about religion, it’s about the way we feel the energy of our spirituality through physical and mental freedom expressed via dancing. Music has an important role in this journey. Written by Nance himself, under the name Terence Etc., and his brother Norvis Jr., the symbolism of their music is lost in the unstoppable camera travelings only to found itself again through scenes of the feminine element in life. The journey of body expression through modern music and acceptance of our physical energy is affecting the viewer as much as the intense combination of natural elements, water cleansing and rituals. You feel as if you are visiting primitive sensations, the way you see your body, the way you perceive your self and the combination of the two. The power of letting go and trusting yourself, guided by the feminine spirituality, can be interpreted in different ways through the symbols, the colours used and the fascination of communicating cultural and polymorphic images. The colour of yellow representing hope, energy, the divine, power but also fear guides the film through change. Everything changes. God is change. Change is Truth. Even though spirituality has taken over the world of film, it is interesting to observe different aspects of it. Here Terence Nance reveals his deepest thoughts about how supremely female powers can define our world and the way we see it, but he also shares his passion of pure expression through dancing and singing; how music makes everything go round. This testimony of his musical interpretations of life and his spiritual wanderings sets a fascinating start of understanding our spiritual souls. by Vicky Griva (Greece) 35


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review

The Bible

Tommy Hartung, USA- Tiger Awards Competition for Shorts Last year’s edition of the Tiger Short competition brought us an unusual proposition coming all the way from America. Here is everything by Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby, as ridiculous and pompous as it may sound, proposed itself to be a project that would try and talk about everything there ever was. Inevitably it could have hardly been a more significant failure. This year the festival treated us to an apparently similar proposition also coming from that side of the Atlantic, yet, with drastically and fortunate different results. The Bible is a collection of stop-motion montages, archive and news footage, and just about everything else Tommy Hartung could come up with, all loosely connected with arbitrary stories taken straight from the Bible. Despite the randomness of much of the narrative, the American artist is capable of producing a somehow coherent cocktail. In fact, he managed to share many comments on religion and major contemporary events that have shaped modern society, even if in an odd fashion. From the September 11 attacks to the emotional letter by the incarcerated whistle-blower Bradley Manning, it is all there. Hartung’s final touch: pantomimes it all with the soundtrack of cult TV series Lost. Notwithstanding the value of the content, what makes this a worthwhile experience is the process. Visually the film is a treat and at the same time a challenge. From sugar cubes melting on water to complex pop art installations, Hartung proves himself as an accomplished artist of many talents. Some of his images are striking, others impressive, captivating, imaginative and even revolting. There is much virtue in it, but the excess of content 38

and the consequences it provokes on the audience is at points unbearable. Surely to a certain degree that was one of Hartung’s objectives: to provide a physical reaction and experience that no one would be able to forget. The final result is intriguing and works in two opposite ways. First it is fascinating in the sense that after going through all the struggle of surviving the screening you can’t help but be contaminated by the energy and freedom of the filmmaker. As such, this voyage into a bipolar and deranged vision of life, religion and humanity will play interesting tricks with your mind. On the other hand, in spite of its many merits, the film is ultimately too much to be taken seriously enough or as anything more than a bit of fun. There is no denying that there is serious craftsmanship into this artist’s work. His talent is immense. But as a filmmaker he would have been perhaps more efficient if he had tried to pervert the limitations of the format in other ways. Overwhelming the viewer with so much content results in all of it becoming a blur and a distant memory, hardly what you want in a film.

by Fernando Vasquez (Portugal)


review

Time and Place, a Talk with My Mom Martijn Veldhoen, Netherlands - Tiger Awards Competition for Shorts Much less a portrait of the filmmaker’s mother than a pretext for Martijn Veldhoen to confront viewers with his skills in using computer programs, Time and Place, a Talk with My Mom shamelessly puts together time-lapses, electronic music, layers of fake film flickering, sepia filters and blurred-around-the-edges images, while also trying to give insights into the Dutch art scene of the past three decades. Veldhoen attempts to tell the story of his mother, wife of the artist Aatje Veldhoen and a mother of four, from the sixties, when she moved into a canal house located in a (at that time) poor district of Amsterdam until her recent death. A narrator’s voice, presumably belonging to the mother herself (though the ending casts a shadow of doubt over that, as over many other things) accompanies most of the film. In order to illustrate her story Veldhoen used a few family pictures, old video recordings and newsreels that were available to him and decided to fill in the gaps by letting certain events be re-enacted and certain rooms redecorated. A 3D rendering of the house his mother inhabited for more than half a century turned into one of his main means of trying to grasp and present the passing of time. There are no filmed interviews to be seen. Only few moving images of the mother are shown. As for the mother’s story – we learn about her husband’s promptly achieved success, about his abandoning wife and children for another woman, about how she had to raise four children by herself. Ultimately, there is not much else revealed about her. However, the children’s passions and personal histories are shortly thematized. Their particularities, their behavior as children, their artistic or political involvement are revealed. The impact of the

father’s departure on almost each one of them is also emphasized. Apart from that, cultural and social changes that took place in Amsterdam are pointed out. Aatje Veldhoen’s nude prints became quite controversial and he was also one of the few artists to proclaim sexual freedom. The protest of David, the elder son, against the disappointing housing programs of the municipality also brings forth a problem the city had to face in the past century. The film suddenly takes a wild turn when Martijin Veldhoen decides to reveal the viewers in a sort of a flashback what methods he used in order to reconstruct the past. Thus, he describes the great effort he had to put into creating such disturbing images and into manipulating time and space. In a voice-over he explains how he created a digital replica of the house, how he employed it, how he let the rooms be redecorated and certain scenes be re-enacted. «No, this is not skillful, this is just plain madness, absolute madness» he is even heard replying to his mother’s surprised exclamations after revealing his ideas about how he would reconstruct the past. The state of the mother nearing the end of her life is also revealed, her horrible sickness, as well as the later years of her life, which implied spending time with the grandchildren and receiving weekly visits from her former husband. Though its usage of such a great number of visual effects and tricks can be defended because it shows the evolution of film effects just as its story depicts the passing of time, Time and Place, a Talk with My Mom still disturbs with its displays of quite too many unpleasantly employed editing tricks. by Ioana Florescu (Romania) 39


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Credits Director of Publication Fernando Vasquez (Portugal) Editors Fernando Vasquez (Portugal), Ewa Wildner (Poland), Writers Ioana Florescu (Romania), Vicky Griva (Greece), Alina Ozerova (Russia), LucĂ­a Ros Serra (Spain), Fernando Vasquez (Portugal) Photographer and Videographer Alina Ozerova (Russia) Design and Layout Francesca Merlo (Italy) LucĂ­a Ros Serra (Spain) Special Thanks to Peter van Hoof, This is a publication of

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Nisimazine Rotterdam 2015  
Nisimazine Rotterdam 2015  
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