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Nisimazine Rotterdam 23rd January - 27th January 2014


content

Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 - 5 Page 6 - 7

Index Page 26 - 27 Inferno Editorial Page 28 - 29 Grandmas’s Dream The Island + Hacked Circuit A Million Miles Away Dominga Sotomayor & Page 30 - 31 Even Pricks Katarzyna Klimkiewicz Here is Everything Page 8 - 9 Giant It Has Already Ended Page 10 - 11 Village Modèle Letters to a Refusing Pilot Page 12 - 13 Working to Beat the Devil Page 14 - 15 Thig + The Chimera of M. Page 16 - 17 The Voice Thief Walk with Me Page 18 - 19 Two Points of Failure Page 32 - 33 Page 34 - 35 Nefandus Trilogy + Photo Reportage Trento Symphonia Page 20 - 21 IFFR in Pictures Page 36 - 37 Our time + Palace at the Sea Page 22 - 23 Ancha es Castilla Page 24 - 25 Black Tapes from Moon and Mars Page 38 Critics’ Votes


editorial This parallel universe in an eye opener, believe me! For three consecutive years we have brought several editorial teams of young writers, photographers and video bloggers from all over Europe, to dive deep into the parallel reality of the Tiger Shorts competition of Film Festival Rotterdam. In this time we have come to accept and admire the unique character of the festival, and this competition in particular. Its experimental nature may not please all, but those confident and brave enough to face up to the challenge, will surely feel the sweet taste of reward by the end. Nisimazine is starting off another long year of massive Film Festival coverage, bringing to you all the news and opinions on films from new upcoming filmmakers. It is a privilege to do so, but also exhausting. Rotterdam is fortunately one of the major sources of much of the energy that keeps us going on our mission. It is here, on a yearly basis, where we are fed a healthy dose of cinema´s most artistic and abstract vein, renewing our optimism in the gentle art of filmmaking. In others words, a real eye opener. Sounds too much? Well, I shall let the following pages speak for themselves.

Consensus is an illusion when the time comes to discussing films. Our voting poll (page 38) is there to prove it. Nevertheless, after much deliberation and discussion, there are a few films which have generated a collective and consensual admiration amongst our team. One of them is the intimate and emotional story of an isolated Darwinist who makes a rare discovery, in British filmmakers Chu-li Shewring and Adam Gutch´s Working to beat the devil (page 13). Michael Moshe Daham, an ex-Hollywood producer turned conceptual filmmaker/artist, also “hit” us pretty hard with his abstract but pertinent Two point of failure (page19), a visual dissertation on the end of the analogue era. And what to say of Hayoun Kwon Village Modèle (page 11)? This odd visit to a North Korean propaganda model town left us all virtually speechless. Perhaps most surprising of all is how Nisimazine´s critical pulse was, at least partially, in tune with the juries. The ultimate great winner, Dominga Sotomayor´s and Katarzyna Klimkiewicz´s The Island (page 5), a portrait of a family reunion destined for tragedy, scored high on both counts. So be brave and turn the page and get ready to discover 24 of some of the nmost unusual and surprising shorts films of the year. Enjoy!

by Fernando Vasquez


The Island

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by Dominga Sotomayor & Katarzyna Klimkiewicz (Chile/Poland) The Island is an exquisitely authentic short film portraying a family reunion on a beautiful Chilean island, shadowed by a tragic event. There is a sense of nostalgia and innocence to the story. The island replete with memories gives a chance for the family members to recall the past, yet the memories tend to be vague and varied according to each character. The bitter sweetness conceived by digging in the past absorbs the viewer and reminds us how fragile and fading life and memories can be –time distorting moments we hold dear. The two directors, Dominga Sotomayor and Katarzyna Klimkiewicz, have brilliantly brought together both exotic Chile and Poland’s Eastern European flavour in this bilateral short film, being neither utterly Latin American, nor outright European. With its own fixed pace and perception, the island is a great choice both story wise and visually, offering gorgeous frames, splendid colours, and creating an unique atmosphere of an odd reality. Inti Briones´ cinematography leaves an impression of a camera tenderly hovering in between people and action. The documentary-like style makes you feel like you are there, amongst the gathering and its activities, observing; not as a creepy stalker, but in a absolutely harmonious way.

The characters are almost extraordinarily authentic. In the best sense they are stereotypical and universal. However, the reunion doesn’t seem cliché, on the contrary, it is very organic and credible. The authenticity may be explained by the fact that only two of the actors – one of which was Sotomayor’s mother – were professional and all the other people were Sotomayor’s actual family members, friends or locals. The ending is predictable from the get go, but the filmmakers succeed in simultaneously surprising and frustrating the viewers with their plot closure. Tension is kept by the unrevealed accident, while the viewer´s experience the anxiety of the horrible truth about to be exposed. And yet Sotomayor’s and Klimkiewicz’s intention was never to show the fatal moment and the reactions, but to capture the innocence and sincerity of the moment. It is almost heart-breaking to witness the everyday life of a family developing before our eyes knowing the inevitable conclusion that will shatter them. This beautiful day will be remembered differently, because it will be tainted by the last news. The Island is a magical, subtle, yet rich film, which absorbs you in its world.

Nisimazine Karlovy Vary // 7

review by Maarja Hindolla // Nisimazine Rotterdam // 5


Dominga Sotomayor & Katarzyna Klimkiewicz Directors of ‘The Island’ (Chile/Poland)

Dominga Sotomayor and Katarzyna Klimkiewicz were brought together by the famous CPH DOX:LAB. The result is a wonderful short film about a troubled family reunion, which eventually took away the main Tiger Shorts competition prize. We met the directors to know all the details of the project. How did you come up with the idea for the film? Katarzyna Klimkiewicz: I was inspired by a poem by Wislawa Szymborska, a Polish poet. It´s called Road Accident and it’s about a family gathering without knowing there was an accident. We didn’t want to directly make this poem into a film, it was more like the beginning idea. What I liked about it was this innocence of the people. When I told it to Dominga she had an idea to make it about an island and a family. Dominga Sotomayor: I had this need to come back to the island where I lived when I was little (in Chile). In the film we’re observing people that don’t know what has happened. So the poem works like the basis, but we put in some more things like nostalgia and the life that is passing by. How did the collaboration work between the two of you? K: For me it was working in a different country, but we tried to find a system. It was an experiment and we tried to do things differently, so I was very open. Probably if I was doing this film on my own it would be different and the same if Dominga would’ve done it by herself. D: I think there is a cultural cross in the film, there is something that is in between the two of us; it’s not my film and it’s not her film. For me it was a film that we found there – we went to the island and the film was the experience. It was mainly a reunion, but we were also shooting it. We had a little capsule and we tried to capture the life inside.

The ending, with the boat on the foggy river, is connected with the family members recalling the island differently. Memories are foggy. Is it fair to make such an association? K: If you see it, then it’s connected. I think everything is connected, but I wouldn’t say that this means this and that means that. D: There are different interpretations of the film and that’s something I like. The ending is predictable from the start. The tension is maintained by the characters’ lack of knowledge. Did you know from the beginning that you’re going to end it that way? D: It was the first idea we had – how to make a film of the time before they know. We worked on the concept of how to leave them before they know. K: The first title was The time before you know. It would be a different movie if we had showed how they reacted. The idea was about this innocence and the concept that this will be A day they will remember differently in the future because it will be tainted by the last news of the day, It’s also in the poem, the ending is For now they are still safe, for now they still don’t know. Do you plan to work together again? K: I think it was just an experiment and it was interesting and I got a lot from this experience for my own development as an artist, but I think it doesn’t make much sense to keep working together.

Nisimazine Karlovy Vary // 7

review by Maarja Hindolla // photography by Alina Ozerova // Nisimazine Rotterdam // 7


Giant

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by Salla Tykkä (Finland)

The world of gymnastics is not without its controversy. The beauty of the sport has been frequently overshadowed by the many leaked stories of child abuse, in particular during the cold war period. No more so than in Romania, where notorious gymnastics schools such as Deva and Onesti have become legendary, for all the right and wrong reasons. These two schools are now the subject of prominent Finish video artist Salla Tykkä´s latest work, Giant, which through a series of short interviews, old footage and a mixture of different shots of trainings, offers us a unique perspective on two buildings somewhat lost in time. Admittedly the film proposes itself to reveal the continuity of how the sport is visually documented. Yet, even if the beauty and the movement of the athletes is ever present and dominant over the sensorial language and rhythm of Giant, the film actually performs much more interesting tricks and skills on other levels. Aesthetically, Giant´s greatest triumph is in its sound work, capturing and embracing the resonances and echoes of running steps and shrieking wood, while redressing it with eerily traits, as if the building could talk and reveal many of the stories, victories and painful memories it has witnessed throughout the ages. Visually the repetition of dolly shots functions in parallel with the need for repetition in order to achieve perfection, just like the athletes training: a never ending process of replication and improvement. The architectural wonder of the buildings, in particular Onesti with its arresting external curves, hides what really goes on inside though. There

is a ghostly quality to both structures. Their past grandeur is ever present but so is an inevitable and regretful sense of sacrifice, in all its forms and brutality. The most striking quality of Giant is manifested in the lifeless anonymity perpetuated inside the walls of Deva and Onesti. Faces and names are absent throughout. The shots of the trainings focus exclusively on the body movements without ever revealing any traces of individuality. Even the mirrors that cover the walls of the training grounds are opaque and muddled. Communication among the girls seems to be a taboo and impossible. Individual expression is repressed and condensed to a single format: gymnastics. This repression of the self is exacerbated in the short interviews. The girls’ childhood, which has been put on hold in exchange for a chance of sporting glory, is remarkably present in their answers, in particular when one refers that her first memory as being selected for the school when she was 4 years old, an age when she could not possibly have made such a choice herself. All this setting -conditions and limitations of self expression, even if only as a background- creates a gloomy atmosphere that taints one of the most beautiful sports in the world, contrasting visual and aesthetical pleasure with psychological and physical pain. Salla Tykka´s Giant is therefore a multi-dimensional experience, never interested in taking sides, immensely virtuous in its technical ambitions and conveniently discreet in its social consequences.

Nisimazine Karlovy Vary // 7

review by Fernando Vasquez // Nisimazine Rotterdam // 9


Village modèle

by Hayoun Kwon (France)

Hayoun Kwon has found an intriguingly absurd subject – a propaganda village in North Korea – and turned it into a creative and esthetically exquisite short film. Kwon’s complex relationship with her home country plays a leading role, and swaying from fiction to reality Kwon has this time chosen a peculiar documentary format. She uses transparent models and clean-cut surfaces in accordance to the actual faux model village of Kijong-dong to visualize the demilitarized zone inaccessible to cameras. The filmmaker successfully plays with sounds – including an audio of a tourist trip and a clip from a propaganda film – as well as light to stimulate the viewers’ imagination. The brightly painted concrete flats in the village are actually empty shells, the choice of transparent models and the style of cinematography work perfectly, emphasizing on the fakeness of the actual village and rising a dreadful thought that the village is only a shadow. The film emphasizes the absurdness of the situation and models show the artificiality of the village. On one hand the idea of the film and its realization contribute as an independent work of art, but on the other Kwon inflicts an immense craving to see the actual village, even though it is accessible and truly exists only in our minds and imagination –Kijong-dong seems so close yet so far. After being absorbed into the fabricated blackand-white world of facades and charades, you get to see the camera and two searchlights moving through the village. The unexpected

appearance of monstrous machinery, in contrast with the small-scaled model village, shakes your attention. It forces it to slowly drift away. At first it seems unnecessary and erroneous, but the constant moving of the picture and sliding through the model adds a sense of imminent threat and gloominess to the devices, showing them as metaphors for the heavy machinery behind the ghost town and mechanism of fiction.The darkness and the intimidating sound design describe the real situation.The climax of the film adds a subtle twist of psychedelic euphoria with the illusions created by shadows and light, almost seeming like the see-through models are rising from the ground. Village modèle is a journey through a weird and mesmerizing village like a strange spot between fiction and reality; and an experience in itself, both thought-provoking and aesthetically delightful. The audio clips, playing with the light and shadows, create a loose narrative which you cling to and so the ending sneaks in without notice, like the dark taking over the land after sunset – slow and steady. This seemingly simple short film strikes with its subtle genius – the way that all the details fall into place and how it is possible for the visual side and the story to marry each other and create such a harmonious whole. And how nonostentatious artifices can work so brilliantly in order to express a simple yet multiplex subject matter.

Nisimazine Karlovy Vary // 7

review by Maarja Hindolla // Nisimazine Rotterdam // 11


Working to Beat the Devil by Chu-li Shewring & Adam Gutch

Chu-li Shewring and Adam Gutch are two british filmmakers developing a unique style of their own. ‘Working to Beat the Devil’ was one of the most dense and multilayered films in competition in Rotterdam this year, so we caught up with them to hear what they had to say about the experience. Your work if very much related to nature or individuals dealing with nature. Is it a source of inspiration? Chu-Li Shewring: We like this kind of documentaries and the idea of creating nature films and sound forms, but with a twist, adding a magical or more fantastic element to the story. To be honest this film probably wouldn’t have been made unless we were living on the isle of Wight - it’s almost a biographical element of the film. We had to react to the weather, seasons, which wouldn’t have been possible if we were living in London and just visiting the island for two weeks to shoot.

Adam Gutch: It sounds strange, but it took us two years. That was partly because of the environment and us wanting to film different seasons and the weather conditions. So we spent a lot of time checking on the weather forecast to be able to shoot with snow or fog. This interest in documentary or hybrid genre is something you have had for a long time? Chu-Li: Adam actually was studying documentary and I was studying sound. For me it’s the things that you observe that become interesting. So definitely it is in the approach we use to make our films. Working to Beat the Devil is a fictional film, but there are elements in it which source from the island. There were so many objects already in the house, so of course we used them as props or ingredients to construct the set. The documentary side is a bit a tricky one, isn’t it? Adam: Yeah, sometimes you push things and force them. Sometimes Guy [protagonist and father of Chu-Li] did something and


review

The truly mesmerizing piece by British filmmakers Chu-Li Shewring and Adam Gutch was a precious catch at the Tiger Shorts program. Balancing between fiction, observation and documentary motives, this film brings focus to experimentation in its heart. Sourcing from Charles Darwin’s texts and inspired by natural phenomena, it creates a magical and charmingly rustic world of an old scientist looking for the beast. The symphonic orchestration of sounds is excellently employed to bring the tactile sensations and meditative atmosphere to the picture of a solitary researcher that treats the microscope as a gate to the world of nature and fantasy. The touching and fragile narration voiced by Guy Shewring takes us through the daily routine of finding a proper solution to questions about the universe, as well as subconscious revelations. ‘I think I am superior to the common realm of men in noticing things, which can easily escape attention’ he claims, and in the same way I could characterize the artists who weaved this visual journey.

we would go along with it. Some of the scenes were built up following the concept of an analyst couch. Guy was lying down, being relaxed and letting the thoughts come, while we talked to him like in a normal interview situation, and these almost hypnagogic thoughts would appear. That grew up from a documentary style. You mentioned that the idea came from listening to programs about Darwin. How did you work with his texts? Adam: It was fun to play with it: Charles Darwin’s texts are very logical, they follow specific ideas at the moment when he had encountered them. We all know his theories, but in the film we are twisting them in a more playful way, while trying to tell a story. Some of the words are from his autobiography where he talks about the possibility of losing his mind and about how old age is starting to tire him. It was quite moving actually, we don’t often hear great scientists talking about frailty – it’s rather about discoveries and great ideas. For me those words seem quite human and it’s almost surprising that they are Darwin’s.

Nowadays, at a time when we all got quite used to the scientific pictorial representations that almost each massproduced good is labeled with, the film achieves a nearly impossible task, while it attributes a sense of charm back to the mystery of a microscopic life. It is certainly a very personal world where one can get access to using science as a tool. The hermetic laboratory is surprisingly opening to the change of seasons and the specimens fixed with the glass are counterpointed with archive footage and family photos. Chu-Li Shewring and Adam Gutch create an impressive set full of instruments, flasks and objects that follow the vibrating editing moves, as if anticipating unknown events that might happen. The old house on the island, with deep see caves and natural landscapes, serves as a perfect stage. Ultimately the film is a the tale of beauty embodied in a man of science, who’s struggling to meet his Beast and makes us fall in love with it.

interview

By working with a non-professional actor, a close relative, the directors trespassed the borders of the fiction genre and found the perfect intonations to voice over the tiredness of age, which even the most curious mind can experience. The periods of short sleep when the character goes through vulnerable obscurity intertwined with a constant search for

evidence. Mortality and the irreversibility of human life are opposed to the wilderness and the mystery of the creature hiding in the caves, making for a powerful leitmotif of the film. The mortality and irreversibility of the human life opposed to the wilderness and mysterious creature hiding in the caves, make a powerful leitmotiv of the film.

review & interview by Alina Ozerova // photo by Alina Ozerova // Nisimazine Rotterdam // 13


Thing

by Anouk de Clercq (Belgium / Italy)

A storyteller narrates into flesh his own world; we fly in a space filled with his melody. With no fear we follow sounds and figures as he creates them, one into another; images decompose and self-destroy into lines, segments, points, pixels as wave of energy that constantly produces new ones; white signs scribbled into dark space and thin air. From one pixel to the other we travel into imaginary spaces, boundless ideas and timeless dreams. Are they for real? Do they really exist? No, they don’t. Or better – one of them does, there’s a real existing place somewhere at the core of this; but we don’t care anymore, now that the border between fantasy and architecture has been blurred: they’re both born out of the same egg after all. Thing has taken the form of video and a book by Anouk De Clercq, whose research focuses on spatiality and architecture (Building, 2003, was about the Concertgebouw in Brug-

Nisimazine Rotterdam // 14 // review by Viviana Carlet

es; Oh, 2010, was based on the drawings of French architect Etienne-Louis Boullée). The film is about buildings that were projected but never built, such as those of Boulée, Terragni’s Danteum; and buildings that become allusion to other structures– Rome and Berlin were cited as big inspirations, with their “layering of time and survival of the past in urban patterns” - as hidden counterparts that disclose an endless range of possibilities; as suggestions for a parallel, imaginary reality. Thing, most of all, succeeds in merging two opposites: the longing for lost memories with the excitement of what never was, but still can be.


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The Chimera of M. Almost every love story starts with infatuation: a period when the heart beats, breaths, bodies and feelings of two people become perfectly in synch. But, as people get to know each other more, the moments of discrepancy become ever more frequent, sometimes resulting in a maze of misunderstood feelings, thoughts and words. Sebastian Buerkner’s The Chimera of M. tells that kind of story about two couples, one of them involving a man and a woman, and the other involving two men. It is important to note that ‘telling a story’ might not be the best phrase to describe the narrative strategy used in The Chimera of M. Instead of a linear storyline, Buerkner chronologically displaces both stories and shuffles them together. He also leaves out most of the plot developing devices and focuses on the quotidian, even banal moments from which these discrepancies emerge. Banality becomes the key ingredient of chosen situations: as in life, these moments almost always originate from a misunderstood word, gesture or a tone of a something that one of the partners has said or done. They cause fractures on the smooth surface of the relationship, leading eventualy to its inevitable end. In The Chimera of M. emotional misunderstandings weren’t

by Sebastian Buerkner (UK)

only suggested through dialogues, but also by visual means. Buerkner uses multilayered 3D-stereoscopic animation which, quite contrary to its common use in mainstream cinema, isn’t employed to create an illusion of three-dimensional space and objects. Instead, its many layers confuse the perspective, reducing the shapes and volumes to abstract and overlapping patterns that seem completely out of synch. This way the spatial relations between bodies and objects echo the unsynchronized perception between the protagonists themselves. Although the objects and bodies featured in many fragmented scenes can’t be easily deciphered, the space that Buerkner creates in Chimera is quite real. However, ITS ‘reality’ is of an emotional, rather than representational nature, and one could easily get lost in it, the same way it is easy to get lost in the emotional whirlwind of the relationship that went wrong. Having in mind the semantic layers that stereoscopic 3D adds to a familiar story, The Chimera of M. might be one of the rare films that demonstrates that 3D technology can be used not only to create visual spectacle, but also as a potent and semantically charged mode of cinematic expression.

review by Mario Kozina // Nisimazine Rotterdam // 15


The Voice Thief

by Adan Jodorowsky (France)

Adan Jodorowsky´s fantastic genre goes well beyond echoing the footsteps of his father. He is taking it to new heights with a very personal touch and feel. We sat down with him to learn more about the ideas behind The voice thief. You were a musician. How did that influence your film process? From the beginning I wanted to be a film director. I made short movies when I was a teenager and one in 35 mm and then I wanted to make The Voice Thief, but I couldn’t find the money. I was too young. I just had a last name. So I said “what’s the way to do it? I’m going to sing and have success with music and if I have success people are going to come to me and ask me to make a film”. So I started to sing. Now I think I did The Voice Thief at the right time, otherwise it would have been created with the goal of being famous. I discovered the pleasure of creating and then everything started to grow.

Gender seems very transgressed in your film. As a filmmaker do you want to add something new to the gender theme? We are fruits of sexuality. Our parents had sex and here we are. You cannot erase sexuality in movies, it’s a part of life. And the fact that everyone is half women half men always attracted me. Because we come from a mother and a father so we are half woman half man. We have two parts. That’s what I’m showing. I’m not homosexual, but I accept I have a woman in me. And men should accept they have a woman inside. And women too should accept they have a man inside. You seem to propose a maximalist universe. Is this a reaction to minimalist cinema? Yes because there are too many empty things around us. Everything is empty today because the people are not giving themselves to art. I didn’t have any limits, I wanted to do exactly what I wanted to do without any limits. And I was fighting on the


review

Adapted from the tale El ladron de voces, by Alejandro Jodorowsky, and embodied with humour and absurdity, The Voice Thief is a neo-extravagant fantasy blending the bitter-sweetness of a romantic drama with the grotesqueness of an ego-maniacal intensity. Although the cinematic diegesis seems to portray Nayaa soprano who loses her voice- as the protagonist, the most powerful character is Naver, her husband, who tries desperately to recover her voice, in order to regain her love and faith. His flamboyant attempts resemble a superhero’s journey: he faces a dwarf prostitute, a drunken transvestite, a pseudo-fairy and multiple inner doubts. The voice itself is distinctly envisaged in the film - as a spiritual, contagious fluid. Although the master plan is not successful, the characters seem to “save” their souls in an unexpected way. The ending of the film portrays on one hand the artificial value of a capitalist society and on the other a pervasive discourse which generates an odyssey of unanswerable questions. If in the beginning few details of the film might seem overexplicit, this slowly turns into a charming straight-forwardness that seems to strengthen the film, not to dissipate it.

set to do what I wanted to do. At the end of the shooting I even said “I want to die”. At the end of the shoot I came to my house and I fainted, I gave everything. I couldn’t do better. With the money I had, I couldn’t do better. How much does the Jodorowsky family background influence your way of filmmaking? You know, I was hiding in the music at first and I even changed my name – Adanowsky. Suddenly I decided to be a director and so I put Adan Jodorowsky. It’s a heavy pressure being a Jodorowsky. If I do movies like him it´s like “oh, he’s doing exactly the same thing” , if I’m doing something different it’s like “he’s not like his father”. So I have to do what I have to do, not think about others. I have to do what I really feel. And yes, I have his influence, of course. Santa Sangre was my first introduction to the movies. My first acting scene was on top of an elephant. I saw a dwarf, I saw a tattooed woman, I saw monsters, so yes, that’s my influence but not only. I like Fellini, Buñuel, old Woody Allen, horror, Kubrick. I have a lot of influences, not only my father.

The art direction of the film is stunningly intriguing, trying to reverse colours in brand new sets of associations: white blood, white tears, golden urine. Production-design, make-up and costumes charm us with their outstandingly unique presence. This hegemony of artistic forces almost tags The Voice Thief as a maximalist work of art, as opposed to the minimalist cinematic new waves. It’s hard to choose a visual eikon when everything is a tableaux vivant: over-filled with axiological and genealogical references, the film still breaths a fresh, mesmerizing Jodorowkyian perspective. Its multi-layer’s are captivating: it’s as much a strong essay focused on searching the essence of humanity, as a contemplation on the alienated self in a mad world invaded by over-sexuality, rebelliousness and despair. The interconnectedness of all the meanings transforms this short film into a controversial, yet juicy, in-depth contemplation of the contemporary values we aim/love/die for. The Voice Thief belongs unmistakably to an original and courageous attempt of reviving short filmmaking and succeeds to give wholeness to a vibrantly imaginative universe.

interview

The performance of Naver (Cristobal Jodorowsky) is sensitive and touching, completing the distant, almost violent

character interpreted so convincingly by Asia Argento. What is truly vivid in this painful romance is the immersive invasion of typologies that seem to populate the eccentric directorial universe of Adan Jodorowsky.

review & interview by Ioana Mischie // photo by Alina Ozerova // Nisimazine Rotterdam // 17


Two Points of Failure by Michael Moshe Daham (USA) Two Points of Failure is a highly outstanding experimental film: an essay about the eschatology of analogue film, reflecting almost simultaneously the contemporary cultural schism and the anticipated genesis of new cinematic forms.

Philosophy-wise, although the first layer of understanding might lead to the death of the analogue, its profoundness can be expanded into a discourse about the complementarity between form and essence, blindness and quasi-observation, nostalgia and faith.

The film begins with a credo: ”where there’s a corpse, there’s a mystery”, which slowly leads the audience to a prolific act of interpretation.

Shot in real time, after 50 previous takes, it reconciles pure chronology with chemistry. The fluid geometry of the colours brings a surreal effect, while bitterly illustrating a dynamic inertia. Without using any of the ingredients of classic storytelling - characters, actions, dialogues, V.O. - this short succeeds to be, only through its visualness, outstandingly meaningful. From a simple idea, the filmmaker succeeds to convey a cross-boundaries discourse, a mesmerizing contemplation of a personal history of cinema, a portal towards reevaluating the purpose of cinematic art, and a micro-analysis of the cathartic changes that precede art.

This piece has an intricate background, being mainly inspired by an anecdote by Jean Luc Godard, who commissioned the development of the first portable video camera - a pocketsize 35 mm camera. As the director of the film explained during the open discussions, although the attempt failed, “Godard was just beginning to conceive the future of cinema”. Having this prolegomena as a diegetic premise, the short film surprises the internal fragilization of an analogue image, it’s decomposing process into particles of colour and light. The photograph, surprising one of the most acclaimed classic filmmakers, is slowly transformed into a fluid mosaic of versatile atoms. The effect of decomposition blends gentleness and fierceness. The melting colours resemble blood, giving a sensorial touch to the “death” of an object. With a delicate twist, the particles evade their destructive abyss and re-establish a fully different content, as in a controlled randomness. The filmic essay is not only a memento mori, it captures an unconscious genesis as well, transforming this vertigo of objectual re-incarnation into a suspenseful work of art.

The director of the film, Michael Moshe Dahan, is an ex-Hollywood producer, currently studying Fine Art and exploring new understandings of contemporary cinema. The poetic technique of slow-motion dissolved fluids might seem over-used, however, in Dahan’s hands, it starts to have probably one of the most wise and well-motivated purpose so far. It’s not just a purely aesthetic-oriented tool, but a highly profound organic and noetic discourse. Although the philosophy of the film is clear and direct, the visual language is never explicit. It liquefies time, space and cinema into timelessness, into a perpetuum mobile of inner reconfigurations.

Karlovy Vary////19 7 review by Ioana MischieNisimazine // Nisimazine Rotterdam


nisimazine rotterdam shorts // 15


Ancha es Castilla, n’importe quoi by Sergio Caballero (Spain)

Having won a big award in the past, and having two films selected, Ancha es Castilla and La distancia, Sergio Caballero is a major player in these shores. We caught up with him to understand a bit more about his anarchic process. How did both projects came about? Ancha es Castilla is a punk, direct, immediate, agile and a lively film: A reaction to the really long process necessary in a feature project. La distancia, the feature film, took three years. I wanted to have a break after all the time spent on funding, pitching, directing and shooting. Everything was very long and boring. So I wanted to make something easy and funny, and I think we did it, creating a new style of cinema in Ancha es Castilla.

What was boring about making a feature? The funding part is terrible. It takes a lot of time, too long for not so much money, it´s tiring and boring. I arrived in cinema through music. I don’t write screenplays, I’m not a director. So, like in music, I imagine a series of images and situations, I shoot them and then I´ll write the screenplay of the material at the editing desk. But when you look for funding they ask you for 45 pages with “something” (laughs). I don’t have the story yet, because I’m still in the creative process. Searching for it before is not interesting, it inhibits the imagination. Why do you need a screenplay to make a film? Someone has to explain this to me. I’ll have it when I finished the film. What impact did the Tiger award you received here in 2011 have? The life of Finisterrae changed and started after the Tiger Award, it was selected for


review

Being able to be happy and have fun as a child does is an art. As a child, you invented stories playing with your friends, creating whole universes, dresses, stories with guns and horses, princesses and fantastic animals. A stone was transformed into a time control device and a branch became a sword… This film brings you back directly into the past, to your memories and desires as a child, able to go everywhere, when all you needed was something as banal as a piece of rope to create a story , to the time when everything was possible, like in this film. Here a potato is the mother and a hodge podge bubbling undefined mass of ropes and food is the father. They have a daughter, Alegia, with long weird hair and a funny jumping dog. These are the main characters of the story, defined as a “horror movie and sick comedy” by its director, Sergio Caballero.

more than 70 festivals after that prize. And the team of the IFFR was very supportive and they help a lot the life of the film. It was a really great push. How do you see the future of filmmaking in Spain after the notorious budget cuts? The ministry of culture is killing cinema. It is ending the funds for production and promotion, so this is the end of the industry. It is a complicated situation. People are reacting by creating a sort of platform to put all the film crowd in contact, in order to find the energy to continue working. They are also creating a network of independent film theatres. But it is not looking like a bright future ahead.

Whatever they are, the real handmade things tell a story, or rather a collage of various stories. Let’s say that there are all the elements for an action story and without a moment’s pause, these are the ingredients: a father who wants to go to the bar with his friends , a daughter possessed (but not by the devil), the ghost of the grandmother having a bath, the Italian priest in the mountains that sells souvenirs (and speak thanks to Google Translator), the trip to Africa, and especially the Erasmus students! It’s not pretentious, it’s just fun, and that’s why Caballero won the bet he set for himself with this film. N’importe quoi borrows from Jaws, The Exorcist and God Saves the Queen. It does so without necessarily being an homage to these films, but rather being inspired by them, while also finding a new way of making animation, with no rules, no prejudices. So, I can definitely say that if being able to be happy and have fun as a child does is an art, Sergio Caballero is an artist!

interview

The action of the animation is spontaneous, the fun they had while shooting is perceptible. You can also see small imperfect details, errors deliberately not eliminated, you can see a hand spring from the set design, the surrounding walls of the house. The unexpectedly sloppy animation is direct, easy, agile, improvised. However it is not a stop motion, the footage is shot continuously. The punk atmosphere is making you wish you could have the freedom to build your own toy model in the garage, or, better, in the old, empty, abandoned house next door where you can do everything you want: paint, act, scream.

The super trash characters created with food, paper, fabric and a potato are human, with their glitches and funny jokes. The rough images help the viewer immerse in this story without preconceptions about it being a silly thing. Sergio Caballero was able to humanize all the elements, to give them an aim, and made it all fun to watch with the acting and the voices. The great electronic music, with its commercial techno feeling, is the perfect sound track for this experience.

review & interview by Viviana Carlet // photo by Alina Ozerva // Nisimazine Rotterdam // 23


Backup Tapes from Moon and Mars by Eteam (USA)

Backup Tapes from Moon and Mars is a fantastic example of a social-philosophical critique of contemporary realities, masterfully performed by the artistic duo Eteam. It brings together Franziska Lampercht and Hajoe Moderegger who live and work in New York. Now their interest in Earth, humans and rituals, results in a puzzling cinematic analysis of Moon and Mars – two small towns nested in Pennsylvania. Chosen because of the references to ideals and outer boundaries of space exploration, the two planets are the metaphoric engines of the film. What from the beginning might seem to be a joke is actually sharpened with extraterrestrial precision in picturing a typical American suburban life backbone. Playful computer graphics and the opening sequence titles introduce us to a recognisable planet that an imaginary space ship touches down at ‘America’s Best Value Inn’. Here is the starting point for the exploration. Rather than being specific to a particular country it’s also a universal dream about further expansion. Pressed to choose, my favourite part would be: “Moon is old. You are hungry and decide to look for breakfast in Mars”. A rich but rather neutral male voice navigates us through the film, emitting hundreds of brilliant observations and quotes. Such intense narration reminds us of an in-built voice transmitter with a non-human pacing. It is demanding for the viewer’s concentration while aiming to interweave an enormous amount of themes. Perhaps an opportunity to re-visit it as many times as it is necessary could satisfy a desperate need to have more time for its assimilation.

The film is as much about the future as it is about the past. Urban moulds that accommodate a post office, a bank and a barbershop are revealed in a habitual still simplicity, but have the surprise value of a first encounter due to the fluent sound design and mesmerizing editing. The usage of popular and classical music references or an image of a child playing with an Earth-baloon is pure balancing on the edge between criticism and sentimentality, which comes to a culmination when Johnny Cash’s Hurt is played in reverse. Actual human characters are secondary to this picture, fragmented presences that are described in a rather alienated way: ‘an unidentified object’, ‘a voice transmitter’, or ‘colored plastic hats’. The way Backup Tapes from Moon and Mars calls out and classifies the ordinary life of a small city opens it up as a mystery, a phenomenon. ‘It’s much more difficult to plan a human life on a daily basis, then a trip to the Moon’ as they quote Buzz Aldrin. Ironically, being the second person to set a foot on the Moon he was the one who performed the first religious ritual on the Moon. Satire and melancholy are present in the film in equal dose. It’s almost painful to go through it, so much the keen observations might be resonating with your own experience, while ‘every fact comes as a certain amount of sadness’. A collective ruin, a cemetery of the future inhabited by absentees and the dust of the Moon is not a futuristic exaggeration probably, but an attempt to look carefully at the present. And “May peace prevail on Earth” as the white pole of Mars says.

Nisimazine Karlovy Vary // 7

review by Alina Ozerova // Nisimazine Rotterdam // 25


Inferno

by Yael Bartana (The Netherlands/USA) Inferno is a tremendously well-crafted oeuvre showcasing a multi-layered philosophical poem, calibrated by an accurate cinematography, well-focussed editing and a highly innovative chronological design. The unshakeable belief of the film is evoked from the beginning: every utopia contains its own destruction. The first frame witnesses São Paulo as if it would be perceived from a demiurgical point of view: an emptied metropolitan city, populated only by intimate groups of Jewish people. Everything seems perfect as we discover joyful whitedressed children, hyper-active Afro-American skaters (evoking as well visual humour), and puritan women. A futuristic retroness seems to intensify the many-facetted universe. Diegetically-wise, Inferno surprises the construction of the third Temple of Solomon in São Paulo and recreates a fictional plot centred on its launching. The Brazilian mega church is a replica of Solomon’s Temple in the city of São Paulo. During its official opening (resembling rather a corporation celebration than a discrete spiritual manifestation), the inhabitants gather from all corners of the metropolis to finish the decorations and to celebrate their new “God”. However, their micro-world is soon to be invaded by an apocalyptic twist and this seemingly perfect world finds its end. Up until this point, besides the Hollywoodian style that invades the cinematic discourse, the film might seem almost “recognizable” or cliché oriented. Nevertheless, the in-depth touch culminates with the ending of the film, which is a complex philosophical statement.

We witness the ex-sacred objects transformed into branded T-shirts and touristic souvenirs, underlining the “purpose” they gained in the “brave new world”, as Aldous Huxley used to call it. The profoundly dramatic humour of the film is discretely proliferated: the sacred place is now invaded by pop-corn makers, not by saints, and the ruins are now a touristic attraction. The film encompasses a summon of inner transgressions: a religious schism, a socio-cultural schism, a societal schism. Giving the feeling of a repetitive cycle of life, the main theme of the film seems an irredeemable recycling pattern: recycling values, attitudes, believes. The ex-temple is now an abandoned wall, which serves only for the marketing glamour of the place. The music associated with the slow motion overdramatizes the fictional contemporary myth. The CGI in the film is an almost flawless tool, accenting the storytelling in a very bold manner - from the moving helicopters to the odyssey of eschatological explosions. The director and editor of the film, Yael Bartana, seems to have a mesmerizing new touch, by mixing different times and stories in the same contemporary urban residence. It’s also worthmentioning, that although in the past years Yael faced bigger and bigger productions, she never abandoned the short film form, learning how to make it stronger and more evocative. In terms of genre, Inferno successfully combines sci-fi, historical and bitter-sweet drama, remaining one of the most thought-provoking short films in the Tiger Shorts competition. It is one of those European short films that perfectly fits the “must-watch” tag.

Nisimazine Karlovy Vary // 7

review by Ioana Mischie // Nisimazine Rotterdam // 27


Grandma’s Dream French filmmaker Laure Prouvost is not exactly a complete unknown in this Tiger Shorts competition. She is fast becoming a reference in the European conceptual art scene. Back in 2011 she had her short It, Heat, Hit in the competition and since then she has became somewhat of a contemporary art superstar by being awarded the much coveted Turner Prize award in Britain, where she is based. Such success has unquestionably afforded the necessary confidence for her to land in Rotterdam with two complementary short films, Grandmas´s Dream and Wantee (Dreams and Myths section), that have blown my mind in an incredibly surprising way. The title of Grandma´s Dream is pretty self explanatory. This is a film about the inner, secret and embarrassing dreams of Prouvost´s grandmother. Through a whispering and child-like narration and wonderfully basic visuals, the artist takes us on a journey through the mind of the elderly. The method in which the description digs into the core of the character´s essence with such depth, humour and indiscretion, reflecting, in a way, Prouvost´s personal vision, is remarkable. Starting off with grandma´s trouble-free desires of feeding the world warm tea, covering the planet in carpet, or how she wishes vegetables would fall from the sky into a pot and become soup, the mood changes once we enter rather erotic territories. Her

Nisimazine Rotterdam // 28 // review by Fernando Vasquez

by Laure Prouvost (France)

will to run around naked and satisfy her libidinous impulses is as awkward as it is striking. Eventually a darker undertone takes over and the screen becomes aggressively undressed of all limitations. What is particularly refreshing about Grandma´s Dream is how Prouvost mixes the trivial with the intimate. Just like an infant, there seems to be no selectiveness or restrictions in what and how secrets can be revealed. Aesthetically the filmmaker has managed to develop an impressively clear vision using minimal visual information, that in most cases would be a letdown, but in Grandma´s dream it´s not only adequate but it also offers the perfect balance. The simplicity of the grandmother´s chain of thought reaches an oddly amusing flavour towards the end when it´s revealed: “In grandma´s dream conceptual art would make things useful... would make dinner”, and most conspicuous of all: “In Grandma´s Dream she wishes granddad (an artist himself) would admit that he is just interested in Silky Bottoms and not conceptual art”. The sharp editing and the impatient soundtrack add both a dreamy quality and a sense of urgency to this groundbreaking short film that alongside Wantee, illustrate that Laure Prouvost is not a rising star for frivolous reasons.


Hacked Circuit There is this sound that “rings a bell’ in my mind. Is it the jingle of invisible bugs in a Thai forests? Or maybe it’s a damaged telephone line deep in the urban jungle. In relation to the new film by Chicago-based artist and filmmaker Deborah Stratman, it makes me feel like my brain was also hacked unnoticeably while watching it. It’s all about circuits: electric ones that give power to our devices, neural circuits connecting the bits of information our brain gets with physical reactions, or simply the habitual circles that keep us moving between home and office with short stops for entertainment. The simple and gracious structure of the film, guided by a floating camera, takes us down an ordinary twilight street, around the corner, into the studio where everything is not what it appears to be. ‘Ripping off the floor sounds good’ – that could be a motto of Foley artist Gregg Barbanell, whom we find in the studio armed with a crowbar. The room is full of recognizable objects. They are mute until the moment when a big clumsy looking person operates them with surgical precision to fit the surveillance episode of the film at its post-production sound stage. The film inside the film, which Deborah Stratman borrows to deliver her story, is The Conversation by Francis Ford Coppola. But most importantly viewers are present now at probably a

by Deborah Stratman (USA)

unique situation, when we become aware of what’s really happening behind the sound studio doors. Do things appear now as they are? Spying hysteria nowadays evokes a lot of questions about control and potential ‘sleepwalking into despotism’. Bugged houses or phones allow invisible agents to get into someone’s life. To record and interpret it, to recreate the picture based on what’s been eavesdropped on: similar, yet opposite to the foley specialist job. His movements follow the fictional character centimetre by centimetre, reproducing his actions with the only function – to get its sound cast. The secretive choreography of the camera inside the studio makes us feel invisible while moving around the busy sound professionals. Their workshop is full of objects collected not because of their direct functionality but due to sound potential. As further on we follow Gregg Barbanell outside, we see hundreds of pieces of furniture, tools, and buckets carefully organized in the courtyard and waiting to be activated. When we move out and continue walking down the street, one can notice the shadow in the frame and hear some steps that point out human presence. Someone is stalking the spying camera that finishes its circular movement by the entrance of the same house.

review by Alina Ozerova // Nisimazine Rotterdam // 29


A Million Miles Away by Jennifer Reeder (USA) In a competition so overwhelmingly dominated by experimental works, Jennifer Reeder´s A Million Miles Away was an invigorating exception to the rule, the more conventional storytelling approach making it stand out from the rest. Deservingly so, it must be said, since A Million Miles Away executes an interesting, even if somewhat limited, analysis of teenage angst, focusing heavily on relationships, language and the generation gap. This is the story of a group of teenage girls, each dealing with common adolescent dramas, who one day are confronted by an equally self-loathing substitute music teacher. It´s hardly a fresh thematic, yet Reeder has managed to create a strong enough plot and flow to carry us into exciting territories. Despite the inevitable presence of all the usual teenage attributes, the arrival of the teacher puts the setting into a more obscure perspective. Exposed to someone as emotionally troubled as them, the students are challenged to either take advantage of the situation for their own twisted amusement, or come to the rescue of a figure of authority, which otherwise they would despise. In spite of the level plain between teacher and student, one crucial factor separates them: language. All throughout the film the teenagers communicate using text-message-like speech, foreign to most adults. Music plays a particular relevant role in A Million Miles Away. Similarly to Harmony Korine´s Spring Breakers, Jennifer Reeder also mutates the value of pop culture, with Madona´s Like a Prayer and most notably with Judas Priest You´ve got Another Thing Coming. Both songs, outside of their usual context and format, became ideal plot engines to describe the avalanche of the inner feelings. On the whole A Million Miles Away is simple in its approach and reach, leaving us begging for more, mainly due to the strong characters who deserved a deeper exploration. by Fernando Vasquez

Here Is Everything

Even Pricks by Ed Atkins (UK)

Ed Atkins has been making a name for himself in the London art scene through several media works manipulating identity and truth, particularly through the use of avatars. His newest release, Even Pricks, is no exception, but perhaps it is the most far reaching so far. In it he attempts to recreate the impulsive and unpredictable senses of a Tourettes syndrome victim. The condition is characterized by the building up of tension that results in involuntary physical ticks and phonic sounds. Yet, Atkins is not preoccupied with accuracy. His work is not about simply transporting us into a journey through the mind of someone tormented by such a circumstance. Even Pricks is, fortunately, much more ambitious than that. The real focus is on bursts of energy, on filling the screen with a never ending myriad of nonsensical images and sounds, interrupted with momentary failed attempts of a linear narrative by the characters. It must be said that the film is brilliant at executing the melting pot of madness and randomness that emerges before you. Hardly one sentence is completed; there are non rhythmical sounds all throughout; and in its core it is very much aware of a changeability which the film wishes to stimulate. Visually there are also truly stunning moments. The use of purple, pink, blue and green colours gives it an artificial quality that functions perfectly in a film unafraid of its own excess. If there is a down point it is unquestionably the fact that half way in, it decides to repeat itself practically in its entirety. Despite the unnecessary duplication, Ed Atkins’ latest piece is a must see for everyone interested in witnessing beautifully crafted lunacy stamped on the big screen. by Fernando Vasquez

by Emily Vey Duke & Cooper Battersby (USA-Canada)

A cat and a rabbit – our guide spirits from the future – promise to tell us everything about everything. Here is Everything states that video art has not yet outworn its practical conversation evolving utility, which is true, but in this particular case it doesn’t exert its immense potential either. The introduction of the film sounds quite intriguing and sets up high hopes, but viewers who are not acquainted with Duke and Batterby’s earlier works will most likely be disappointed. They point out some significant core subjects of our time such as religion, addiction, death and humankind´s relationship with nature. They are reccurring themes in the authors´ repetitive filmography, whose collaborations have developed a specific and distinguishable style. Here is Everything is more a contemporary fable than a short or video art, but the visual side doesn’t support the meaningful voice-over, serving merely as pastime or filling. Close-ups of insects and trash rather distract the viewers, not adding much depth. Even if the film is wonderful, endearing and a bit weird in just the right way, it lacks consistency, wholeness and depth. There are some spectacular notices which need reminding from time to time, such as understanding the difference between shame and guilt or holding something while it’s dying in order to acknowledge death as it is; but the overall presentation of those notions is weak and flat, quashing the sincere and moving message of this audiovisual contemplation. Duke and Battersby have mentioned the possibility of developing Here is Everything into a series to examine other compelling sets of subjects; which would be highly welcomed. by Maarja Hindoalla


The Harbour

It Has Already Ended

Letter to a Refusing Pilot by Akram Zaatari (Lebanon)

There is something inherently fake about tourism postcard images. It is funny and paradoxical how they tend to hide more than they reveal, especially considering how their sole existence is an attempt to captivate imagination. Rio de Janeiro´s image is an extreme example: usually coloured with the sun of Copacabana beach, thongs and a lively easy going attitude, when reality is significantly different.

There is a closed window and a hand that opens it. A beehive on the corner and a tiny turtle which floats on a puddle, encircled with petals. There’s smoke and wax, fire and black soil. The aesthetic is minimalistic, the images are clean and crisp, carefully rendered and calculated, often overlaid. The timing is ridden with time-lapses. So there’s a beehive, but it’s not really there, is it? It almost doesn’t have time to become real: the bees make the wax that’s already been transformed into a candle, burning down in the same sequence. Death underlines life from the very start, and the soil is really not more tangible than the spiralling smoke: the material becomes phantasmagorical, a simulacrum of itself.

“It takes a lot longer to build a city than it does to strike a target” said a pilot that was to engrave his presence in history in a truly heroic act, which is now the subject of the latest work by Lebanese artist Akram Zaatari.

by Clarissa Campolina, Julia de Simone, Luiz Pretti and Ricardo Pretti (Brazil)

These 4 Brazilian filmmakers have a very clear and unconventional perspective, and in The Harbour they have chosen to redraw the image of their city, in a period of massive growth. Rio´s harbour area has been the target of a particular ambitious urban development project called Wonder harbour, making it the perfect example of how progress, under the fallacy of needed development, hides unwanted consequences. As if through a looking glass, we are offered a series of hazy and foggy images of a city that we all know is buzzing with action, yet it is somehow dehumanized. We rarely see people on these frames, only cars and identical cruise ships inhabit this region. Cultural icons, such as carnaval parade cars, go by this concrete jungle. They ironically form an image of indigenous enraged by what they witness. As the film progresses we are confronted by a CGI reconstruction of the area: the all recognizable mixture of carefully lined up trees and delighted digital citizens walking around traffic free streets is unavoidable. It would be naive to dismiss the pleasantness of the plan, but the same can be said about the price of such change: the destruction of the character of one of the most iconic cities on the planet. The authors have managed to exploit subtleness to touch a universal wound. Their judgement process is purely visual, manipulative yet bizarrely effective. In a way The Harbour shows us that just like in the somewhat dishonest postcard images, this voracious thirst for development is equally deceiving. by Fernando Vasquez

by Arikawa Shigeo (Japan)

There are images of houses and habitats, broken down to details and glimpses, made unfamiliar: not really unsettling, surely less comprehensible. With the possible inclusion of our very last habitat, of what appears to be the earthy edges of a grave, framing random shots of fire and trees and jellyfishes. We’re at the bottom of it looking up: an audience that is already dead and refuses to acknowledge it, obstinate in trying to make sense of things, while gawping at this real memento mori of a film. There’s a buzzing, seemingly everlasting cacophony in the background: it’s the sound of a radiation detector, crackling away. The reference to Fukushima is clear, still Shigeo Arikawa chose not to say a word about it, not even in interviews and even less in the synopsis. Perhaps it is a sign of an attempt not to overload the universally intended message and feeling with specific references. Or maybe it is simply a quasi-sadistic game of “Try not to think of an elephant, you fools”. The sound slowly reaches its peak and by the end of the film becomes almost ear-piercing without us even noticing. It has already been ended, indeed. by Viviana Carlet

During the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon one pilot refused to drop a bomb over a supposedly military target, launching it in the sea instead, as he believed it to be a school. He was right, it was Saida´s Public School for boys, Akram Zaatari´s childhood heaven: a place where wonderful memories were built up throughout his formative years. Such an act of defiance and humanity did not go unnoticed, even if hours later another pilot flew in to finish the job. In Zaatari´s infant mind the refusing pilot became an idol, a figure of almost epic proportions, who echoed the sensibility and kindness of Antoine de Saint-Expéry, a comparison made by the author himself. The use of sound is relevant and well executed, adding much needed life and context to the visuals. Yet the author preferred to portray such a personal story using a visual discourse based on still images, contrasting photographs of the school intact and after the bombing, as well as never-ending shots of the present day school. There are periods where the still images really come alive, in particular when a finger pans across a photograph of the location dropping bombs on the building. Disappointingly this moment is an exception in an otherwise over indulging aesthetic that forces repetition for no discernable reason. Throughout most of the work we are bombarded with childhood photos, frames of the school from every conceivable angle and young teenagers throwing paper planes. It fulfils the purpose of transmitting how important the setting and the incident is for Zaatari, but it contributes little to making Letter to a Refusing Pilot a more layered and imposing experience. by Fernando Vasquez


Walk with Me

by Johan Oettinger & Peter Tukei Muhumuza (Uganda/ Denmark) William Blake wrote, in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, if the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is – Infinite. None of us are born good or evil, and children don’t know the difference between right and wrong until they’re taught. Walk with Me is a beautiful visual poem about how children understand life and death and good and evil. Through many technical aspects and wonderfully combining animation into the story -both puppet animation, stop-motion as well as CGIJohan Oettinger and Peter Tukei Muhumuza create a kind of devilish, yet childlike and naïvely fascinating short film which evokes many emotions. It is mind-blowing to see how such different feelings all fall in line in one short film. The story itself is quite bilateral, giving the viewer opportunities to interpret it the way he wants. The filmmakers only give eccentric details and symbols – of life and death, rituals and sacrifice – like a dead goat and broken eggshells. Whether or not to notice them and how to interpret those details is up to the viewer´s imagination, which is left run loose. Thus the message of the film is a question of interpretation, depending on the mood of the viewer. For example, the theme of the main character wanting to be a ballerina, which is remarkable and almost infeasible in rural Africa, can be unapparent and instead many different thoughts can arise from this dreamlike short film. Described at times as dark, that kind of artistic insight to a child’s way of seeing and interpreting the world is actually a very sincere and hopeful audiovisual experience. In its own rich

and psychedelic way it leaves us wondering if we see the grim and dreamy world created by the two directors dark only because we are adults and carry all sorts of background knowledge as a burden. That is the reason why children’s random sentences, arisen from their clear views and clean perception, can sometimes seem like prophecies or omens – because children are free from mythological and historical knowledge as well as social norms. To children everything seems repetitive an infinite; as the little ballerina repeats when talking about death: “we just lie there and we lie, and we lie, and we lie…” The main character – a little Ugandan girl – seems very sincere and spontaneous, despite the fact that the filmmakers have created quite an artificial milieu around her, which seems illsuited for a child. Thus the constant presence of the authors is felt throughout the film, not in a distracting way. It leaves you wondering whether the directors are using the child as a tool to say or show something they want to say or vice versa. It can be explained by the fact that the little girl didn’t know she was being filmed and therefore was supposedly completely honest and truthful while sharing her thoughts on life and death. Walk with Me doesn’t work with a classical narrative, but instead lives off of its visual style. Some people might find it hard to follow or decipher the quite outré details, but the experience created by a great soundtrack and gorgeous cinematography, with an astonishing colour palette, in addition to the mesmerizing participation (emphasizing participation not acting) of the little girl, justifies the film gloriously.

Nisimazine Karlovy Vary // 7

review by Maarja Hindolla // Nisimazine Rotterdam // 33


Nefandus Trilogy At a time when gay rights are firmly settled on the western political agenda, it is interesting to point out how much of gay history is still to be unveiled. Colombian visual artist Carlos Motta has managed to respond to this absence in our collective knowledge in a noteworthy way with Nefandus Trilogy, a three part visual essay focused on revealing certain aspects of the historical repression of homosexuals, western and indigenous, in Latin-America´s colonial era. Through the use of narrated chronicles, letters, archive documents and oral traditional tales, he reveals appalling traces of the abuse perpetrated in the name of religion and empire, against so called “sodomites�, in three different examples: the annihilation of the indigenous homoerotic heritage; the forced exile of a Portuguese homosexual trader; and finally the description of a native ritual of defeat. Instead of the usual catalogization of horrors, in which most studies of this nature tend to become, Motta spotlights more overpowering concepts and images. One of them, for instance, is how the imperial cultural dominance focused on the repression of the needs of the body. As the camera floats around an Amazonian stream, an active witness and burial ground for many of the victims of persecution, we are told of how the

Nisimazine Rotterdam // 34 // review by Fernando Vasquez

by Carlos Motta (USA, Colombia, Portugal)

once prevailing and accepted homosexual practices in the region were brutally eradicated. Equally powerful is the critique of Luiz Delgado, a Portuguese homosexual exiled in Angola. His haunting descriptions of the effects of years of torture, echoes in the incessant waves that hit the shores of Lisbon, the launch board for the maritime discoveries that triggered the terror. For all its triumphs, Motta seems to have not found the proper balance between content and aesthetical discourse, it must be said. No doubt the imagery utilized to illustrate the narration is mostly precise and successful, in the sense that it visualizes the settings of the abuses as well as the atmospheric sadness and desperation that prevails in them. Nevertheless the predefined separation of the three parts, with 3 credit sequences altogether, does nothing to unify the power of each element of the trilogy. Instead of ensuring an equal amount of appeal, all it achieves is the obliteration of the final part, to which we are imune. All the same, the overwhelming pertinence of the subject matter, as well as the careful selection and effectiveness of the testimonies is applaudable. In Nefandus Trilogy Carlos Motta created what could very well be regarded as a work in which its pertinence and relevance goes well beyond the realm of its artistic value.


Trento Symphonia Imagine the Alps are illuminated by the sun. You can see the pink rocks of the mountains, the light is warm just like during sunset. When the music begins, the choir and the orchestra embark on a performance of Mahler’s Eight Symphony. What you are looking at is a perfect postcard image feeling, yet you are perfectly aware something is going to change sooner than you can expect. While you wait for the unforeseen, you fix every single detail of the image in your spectrum. The orchestra is perfectly organized and ordered in groups, as if with a precise unconventional disposition. When these groups begin to move, in a perfect choreography unknown to the audience, they follow adolescents acting as “living-music-stands”. It is a fluid slow movement of a kaleidoscope. Where are they going? They disappear one after another and only once your mind settles in the dance unfolding on the screen, you understand that also the corresponding music track is vanishing. You are inevitably focused on understanding how they have disappeared, when you suddenly realize that you cannot see anything else because it is already night. You lost the entire image.

by Flatform (France, Italy)

The mixture of the physical elements (musicians and instruments), the sound (the music-track level) and the image (light loosing potency) forces the audience to become aware witnesses of the progressive decomposition of Mahler’s masterpiece: the end of the music and the end of life. This collective perception is enforced by the instinctive control and order that the images hold; the audience is forcibly stimulated to “listen with the ears”. Flatform, an artistic collective based in Milan and Berlin, are quite clear in the objectives and process of Trento Symphonia. They are very much aware of the fact that by manipulating the senses of hearing and sight, they can recompose landscapes, while attributing them greater and varied values. As a response they create a game where the audience finds itself listening to the scenery: it is an impressive participatory exercise. Truly an experience to remember, Flatform has once again manage to build a strong and delicate parallel reality, which despite the participative involvement it demands from its audience, is well worth the effort.

review by Viviana Carlet // Nisimazine Rotterdam // 35


Notre Tempo

by Lorena Zilleruelo (France)

Our Tempo is a non-fictional trichotomy portraying Denis, Tabita and Geanina, three gypsies as ‘inhabitants’ of a nomad childhood.

the ordinariness of their life, the film doesn’t judge any of its characters, allowing them to dream, to regret, to remember almost random fragments of memory in a fluid and playful narration.

The audio and the visual are prolonged in an oxymoronic construct: while on the screen we witness their objectification - static gazes, facial expressions, body language, silhouettes in the darkness, the voice over surprises their genuine confessions, their breaths, their rhythm. Only in the end, the two worlds collide: visual objectification and audio subjectification come along together, recreating a highly sensory experience.

Their confessions are augmented by almost randomly chosen personal details. The documentary tends to become what Siegfried Kracauer used to define: “film as a discoverer of the marvels of everyday life”. Relevant and loyal to the mechanics of selfprojection become as well the fragments of songs the infants interpret - traditional refrains that seem to encapsulate an eclectic puzzle of happiness and sorrow.

The final frame reiterates one of the most revealing moments of the entire audiovisual architecture: each child moves as if this would be their only language, recreating an almost surreal choreography. Their step arrangement is not just a dance, but an anthropological pulse. Through gestures and sounds exclusively, they seem to expand the depthness of their background, their future, their present and the conflictuality they face every day.

For a public who is familiar with art-house documentaries, Our Tempo might seem impregnated with stereotypical techniques (one of them being the association of voice overs and almost still-photographic frames), however the spontaneous ending of the film reconfirms the inventiveness of the author, defining in a highly poetic manner a portrait of ordinary people who try to overcome the prejudices they are associated with.

Structure-wise, the film enriches the realm of experimental documentary art by adding an almost audio-tactile dimension to the narration, through the sound editing.

The director-cinematographer of the film, Lorena Zilleruelo, conceptualizes an audiovisual essay where rhythm, sound, body language as eikons of the non-verbal are emancipated, in order to reveal the sub-layers of a meaningful and fragile slice of a plurivalent diary.

By dividing the exploration into chapters, we can map the authenticity and the genuine mind of the three children. Exploring

Nisimazine Rotterdam // 36 // review by Ioana Mischie


Palace on the Sea Back in 2012 Midi Z´s debut feature, Return to Burma, a starkly real portrait of the return of an immigrant to a dictatorship stricken Burma, was one of the most talked about films of the festival. This time around his return shows us a radically different perspective on his filmmaking discourse, more mature and multi-dimensional, even if thematically still moving through familiar terrains. The Palace on the Sea could hardly be more different than his previous work. Seductively surreal and paradoxically both warmhearted and sarcastic, the film transports us to Taiwan, a heaven for crowds of immigrants from all corners of Southeast Asia. One such case is Sun-mei, a Burmese young girl who in a moment of weakness takes the impulsive act of leaving her work to satisfy her desperate need to return home. In a charmingly orchestrated format, several women try to talk her out of her decision, reminding her how tough and pleasureless her life would be, as if the thought of returning home hit them on a personal level, as it is made clear when one of these vagrants looks straight into the camera to describe her personal fears. Taking refuge in an old abandoned boat, stripped of its former glory and luxury, a metaphor for her shattered dream of a better life in Taiwan, she enters in a comatose like state, hallucinating about her lover entering the room to perform an odd dancing

by Midi Z (Burma,Taiwan)

game of persuasion and flirtation to the sound of a cheesy Asian techno pop soundtrack. The simplicity of the quick and clean closure, with Sun-mei moving backwards into her workplace, hides a much deeper and multi-layered process, that makes The Palace on the Sea a breakthrough in Midi Z´s body of work. Most noticeably of all is the use of sound, constantly changing and guiding us through the emotional roller coaster the character is going through. The sound levels are in constant mutation, sometimes thick and dry, others loud and intense, evoking a sense of dreamy hypnoses. Once reason sets in, we are immersed in mechanical sounds that reveal to us Sun-mei´s final decision. Movement also plays an imperative role. It is not just the magnetically seductive dance of the two lovers. The change between the desperately determined forward movement as she abandons her work, to the backward motion of resignation to her condition, is impressively solidified by the never ending flow of the camera. “I´m in the movie”, the slogan on the boyfriend´s t-shirt is the sarcastic final touch in a film where the Burmese filmmaker proves himself as an astute apprentice at portraying and beautifying the life and spirit of south-east Asian immigrant life.

review by Fernando Vasquez // Nisimazine Rotterdam // 37


Critics’ Votes Viviana

Maarja

4

4

2.5

4

3

4

3

4

4

2

4

2

Giant

4

2

4

2

4.5

Grandma’s Dream

5

3

3

3

3

Hacked Circuit

3

4

3

4

4

Here Is Everything

1

2.5

0.5

2

2.5

Inferno

3

3.5

5

4

3.5

The Island

3

4

3

5

4.5

It Has Already Ended

2

2

3

2

Letter to a Refusing Pilot

2

2 3

2.5

2

2

A Million Miles Away

3

3

2.5

3

4

Nefandus Trilogy

3

2

2.5

1

2

Notre tempo

2

4

4

3

3

3.5

3

2.5

3.5

2

The Harbour

3

3

2.5

3

2

Thing

4

3.5

3

5

4

2.5

3.5

3

5

4

Two Points of Failure

4

4.5

5

5

3.5

Village modèle

4

5

3.5

5

3.5

The Voice Thief

3

2.5

5

3

2

Walk with Me Working to Beat the Devil

2

3

2.5

2

4.5

5

5

4.5

4

3.5

Fernando

Alina

Ancha es Castilla/N’importe quoi

3

4.5

The Backup Tapes from Moon and Mars

2

Even Pricks

Ioana

The Chimera of M.

The Palace on the Sea

Trento Symphonia


editor: Mirona Nicola (Romania) writers: Maarja Hindoalla (Estonia), Ioana Mischie (Romania), Viviana Carlet (Italy), Mario Kozina (Croatia), Alina Ozerova (Russia), Fernando Vasquez (Portugal) design and layout: Lucía Ros Serra (Spain)

original layout: Maartje Alders (The Netherlands)

photography and video: Alina Ozerova (Russia) very special thanks to Peter van Hoof, Isabelle de Klein, Tito Rodríguez, Nancy van Oorschot and everyone who directly and indirectly contributed to the production of this publication. Front and back cover images taken from “Inferno”, by Yael Bartana, in competition for the Tiger Short Award 2014 This is a publication of:

Supported by:

credits

editor-in-chief: Fernando Vasquez (Portugal)



Nisimazine Rotterdam 2014