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March 28th – April 2nd, 2017 / Cinema Muzeul Țăranului & Cinema Elvire Popesco / the 7th edition


Directed by: 
Cinema Elvire Popesco - Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - 21:00
Cinema Muzeul Țăranului - Friday, March 31, 2017 - 21:00
Sebastian Mez
Sebastian Mez
Sebastian Mez
Sebastian Mez
Romanian Premiere
With the support of

Director Sebastian Mez returns to BIEFF with Remains from the Desert, the chilling tale of a young Eritrean refugee captured, tortured and mutilated for money. As a sober voice over recounts the horrors lived, black and white close ups of the thrashed body intertwine with images of the desert where it all took place. Despite all the marks carrying the remembrance of what has happened, the breath-taking landscape remains impassible and unscathed. In the end, the short film recognizes the futility of trying to find logic in the senselessness of torture. The only solace to be found is the notion that human memory is as fragile as the body, and that bit by bit all will be forgotten. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2017) 

Sebastian Mez

Sebastian Mez was born in 1982 in Essen, Germany. In 2007 he began his studies at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg in Ludwigsburg, Germany, specializing in directing. His first short, Clean Up, was shown at more than 40 international film festival and won several prizes. His film Ein brief aus Deutschland, which takes a special approach onto the subject of modern slavery and prostitution in Europe, won the international middle length competition at Visions du Réel in Nyon in 2011. His feature debut, Metamorphosen, premiered at the Berlinale 2013. Mez currently lives and works in Berlin.

Festivals, awards: 
  • Best International Short Documentary - Festival dei Popoli 2016
  • DokuFest Prizren 2016
  • Belo Horizonte International Short Film Festival 2016
  • Curta Cinema International Short Film Festival 2016
  • RIDM Montreal International Documentary Festival 2016
  • Camerimage 2016
Curatorial comment:
When talking about refugees, empathy is often invoked - our capacity to intuit another’s reality through emotional identification. But given our privileged position, to what extent can we truly comprehend Osman, a young Eritrean refugee, tortured and mutilated for money? This seems to be the question that guides the short-film. On the one hand, the horror of the story is not minimized. The camera doesn’t shy away from close-ups of the young man’s scars and mutilated hands while he tells of his torture through a voice over narration. On the other hand, the director intuits the fact that common ground between viewer and character is to be found in the question that the protagonist himself poses, “what have I done to deserve this?”, a question aimed at a world which seems to not abide to the laws of cause and effect. Wide pictorial shots of the desert landscape, almost unfittingly breath-taking given the context of the film, and scenes in which the camera wanders through the wilderness are a visual reiteration of this question. As many as the testimonies of torture are on Osman’s body, the landscape remains impassive. The pursuit for an answer is definitively an absurd one, but it is what manages to create this searched-for sense of empathy, to put the viewer in the character’s place of wondering, “how could this come to be?” (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2017)