Venice's Orizzonti Short Film Competition offers an eclectic selection
- VENICE 2021: As the selection prepares to unspool in front of audiences on the Lido, we examine some of the new talents that can be uncovered within
Screening within Orizzonti, the Short Film Competition at the Venice International Film Festival has always been a tight and compact affair designed to expand upon Orizzonti’s aims of shining a spotlight upon new talents. With a global outlook — past award winning films over recent years include works from India, Indonesia and Colombia — this year’s selection of films is an eclectic affair in which a number of different genres and styles vie for attention.
With something of a resurgence of the short format in Lithuania over the past few years — as shorts from the country are becoming fixtures at the likes of Berlin and Venice — director Saulius Baradinskas proves himself another director emanating from the Baltics to watch out for. His film Techno Mama is a brilliantly evocative examination of a fractured relationship between a mother and son, that speaks not only of the generational divides within post-Soviet countries but also of the apparent impossibility of dreams. While Baradinskas provides strong and confident direction — a gritty urban landscape with the merest hint of magical realism — the film is also buoyed along by some amazing central performances.
Also typified by strong performances is Italian film Il Turno, directed by Chiara Marotta and Loris Giuseppe Nese. The film follows two young nurses, one who takes the day shift and the other the night, who look after a bedridden elderly lady. While they usually encounter each other only briefly, an incident will change both forever. The film veers between the subtle and the melodramatic as it tackles themes of responsibility, migration and fear all sparked off by seemingly intimate and contained inciting incidents. Claustrophobic and tense, it’s an excellent use of the short form.
Just as claustrophobic is the French film Descente 4am by Mehdi Fikri. As part of new sweeping police powers in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, an officer joins her colleagues in an early morning raid. But there, she sees how these powers are abused. Shot with a sense of urgency in striking black and white, Fikri’s film is a damning indictment on how those in authority can bend the rules in order to serve their own agendas.
Animation is also on offer with Irish film The Fall of The Ibis King, directed by Josh O’Caoimh and Mikai Geronimo. Emanating from the country’s National Film School, the film explores the machinations of an opera after one actor is shaken by the return of a former performer. With a heightened sense of reality — as the film plays with the intersection between melodrama and absurdity — the film has an animation style that is elegant yet bombastic. It’s a constantly bold piece of work that sings, both literally and figuratively.
However, it is a work of positive understatement when compared to French animation La Fée Des Roberts, which comes with the English title ‘The Boobies Fairy.’ Director Léahn Vivier-Chapas creates a gloriously over-the-top affair which juxtaposes the wishes of a little girl in the circus – who longs for the mammary glands alluded to in the title – and the attempts to train a circus lioness to be part of the show. With aesthetic echoes of the likes of Robert Crumb, infamous comic magazine Heavy Metal and a smattering of Manga, this throws subtlety out of the window and then crushes it under the weight of a massive cleavage. But for its grand-guignol entertainment and excess, the film manages to work as genuinely thoughtful commentary on gender roles and the nature of conformity.
Other films in the section include Spanish film Heltzear (Mikel Gurrea) which follows a girl who, in the midst of the Basque conflict, prepares for the most difficult climb of her life, and Don’t Get Too Comfortable (Shaima Al-Tamimi, Yemen / Qatar / United Arab Emirates / USA / Netherlands), a moving documentary in which the director writes a letter to her deceased grandfather through which she examines the plight of current day Yemen.
Orizzonti Short Films
Don’t Get Too Comfortable - Shaima Al-Tamimi (Yemen/Qatar/United Arab Emirates/USA/Netherlands)
Techno, Mama - Saulius Baradinskas (Lithuania)
Descente (4AM) - Mehdi Fikri (France)
Mulaqat (Sandstorm) - Seemab Gul (Pakistan)
Heltzear - Mikel Gurrea (Spain)
Los Huesos - Cristóbal León, Joaquín Cociña (Chile)
Tou Sheng, Ji Dan, Zuo Ye Ben (Hair Tie, Egg, Homework Books) - Luo Runxiao (China)
Il Turno - Chiara Marotta, Loris Giuseppe Nese (Italy)
Fall Of The Ibis King - Josh O’Caoimh, Mikai Geronimo (Ireland)
Pid Pokati Mai (New Abnormal) - Sorayos Prapapan (Thailand/South Korea/Singapore)
La Fée Des Roberts - Léahn Vivier-Chapas (France)
Kanoyama (The Last Day) - Momi Yamashita (Japan)
Out of Competition
Ato - Bárbara Paz (Brazil)
Preghiera Della Sera (Diario Di Una Passeggiata) - Giuseppe Piccioni (Italy)
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