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

The Politics of the Body

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International Competition - The Politics of the Body

 
Curatorial presentation by Diana Mereoiu
“A word is not a simple and separate entity but part of other words”, says Virginia Woolf in her last known recording, as used in Man by Maja Borg, one of the shorts films in this programme. Seen as such, a word turns to be more than just a cluster of graphic signs put together, a signifier'referring to a certain signified; it becomes an organic part of an intricate cobweb, carrying within itself not only the sense it is intended to convey, but also the entire history both of the meaning itself and of the usage of the respective word over time.

The same holds true with visual language. Popular culture and the media are the most relevant shapes taken by the values, neuroses and struggles for power in our society. Hence, words and images reveal themselves to be inherently political. Since language creates the reality it describes, the alteration of the signifier will alter the signified.

The Politics of the Body: The Performative Self theme programme recognizes this essential idea, analysing the basic assumptions held about our bodies and their presentation, representation and self-presentation. Carefully distinguishing between what is natural and what is normal (i.e. culturally-constructed), “these empowering films deal with topics ranging from questioning societal norms of beauty and gender, to the search for personal identity and freedom, together offering a common voice to disenfranchised, politicized minorities. The curated space of the program thus becomes a safe-zone for each individual story, where prejudice is faced head-on, discussed and ultimately dismantled, in favor of open mindedness, tolerance and inclusion.” (Andrei Tănăsescu). Change the way you show the body and you change all ideas related to it.

Intelligently playing with this notion, in Man, Maja Borg re-enacts cliché depictions of manliness while pregnant, thus bleeding the images and the stereotypical ideas they represent dry of their initial connotations. The mix of super 8mm footage and watercolour-negative animation makes for a poignant and innovative parallel between the body’s ability to create new life to the artist’s ability to create new meaning.

Screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, American Reflexxx is a social experiment pushing the limits between passive voyeurism and active participation. A revealing tight blue dress, neon coloured heels and a reflective mask make up the armour performance artist Signe Pierce dons, as she struts down an esplanade at night-time, posing provocatively. Her androgynous presence incites curiosity, disgust and confusion. However, as the audience grows, their feelings swiftly turn from probing to entitled aggression and disregard for others. Powerful and chilling, this short film reveals the darkest side of mob mentality and a disturbing readiness in finding justification for violence.

Screened at IDFA Amsterdam, “(Self)exhibitions is a found footage documentary film made with home movies that approaches to new forms of self-representation and exhibition of our intimacy on the internet and in social networks. Con-fessional and private experiences, turned public and exposed on the web, giving rise to new self- narratives that become part of a spontaneous circuit of imitations, recurrences and replies between web users, determining the way we show ourselves. The film is the final result of a series of short pieces (from 3 to 5 minutes) conceived for a video-installation.” (Festival Scope)

A mix of documentary and animation, Two Snakes is the personal essay of a person unrooted from their native land, striving to reconcile expat feelings of otherness with fragments of different cultural heritages. Screened at Oberhausen, in this short film legends and personal history dissolve into each-other as the popular Chinese story of the two snakes is interpreted, deconstructed and rearranged, in search of an identity built from fragments of memories and re-appropriated narratives. Self-deprecating and self-aware, Two Snakes ultimately raises a question: can there ever be such a thing as belonging?

Fingers languorously part the lips of book pages, the straps of dresses fall off of milky skins, sensuous gazes entice the viewer in a sensual act of artistic voyeurism. Rino Stefano Tagliafierro returns to BIEFF with Peep Show, animating classical paintings as in his previous Beauty, this time narrowing his focus on the sensorial pleasures of erotic art. Balancing between suggestive and explicit, in this mesmerizing homage to the history of art the director explores sensuality across time and cultures, masterfully building and releasing the pleasurable tension of voyeurism.

Screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Night Soil - Economy of Love portrays “a Brooklyn-based movement of female sex workers, regarding their work as a way for women to reclaim power in a male-dominated pleasure zone; their mission being to rearrange sexual conventions and ideas about intimacy itself. Vivid imagery is accompanied by a spoken score, revealing visual artist Melanie Bonajo's vision on contemporary spirituality and expectations surrounding gender roles, by playful, sensual, and feminist-driven means. (…) Bonajo questions the complex relationships that exist within and without the natural world, challenging the traditional notions that divide nature, people, and technology.” (Galerie AKINCI)

Cheeky and whimsical, Flowers and Bottoms relies on the charmingly nonsensical in order to relax the audience into enjoying what is ultimately an erotic and delightful love letter. In a dark room, an anonymous viewer watches a film made solely with shots of flowers and (/in) buttocks, a melancholic birthday present from what we understand is a former lover. Beyond its assumed absurdity and surrealism, the film skilfully juggles multi-layered observation and exhibitionism, bringing the audience to the blushing realization that what is often publicly labeled as vulgar is what we intimately find sensuous and endearing.

Directed by: 
ALLI COATES & SIGNE PIERCE
Screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, American Reflexxx is a social experiment pushing the limits between passive voyeurism and active participation. A revealing tight blue dress, neon coloured heels and a reflective mask make up the armour performance artist Signe Pierce dons, as she struts down an esplanade at night-time, posing provocatively. Her androgynous presence incites curiosity, disgust and confusion. However, as the audience grows, their feelings swiftly turn from probing to entitled aggression and disregard for others. Powerful and chilling, this short film reveals the darkest side of mob mentality and a disturbing readiness in finding justification for violence. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
MAJA BORG
“A word is not a simple and separate entity but part of other words”, says Virginia Woolf in her last known recording, as used in Man by Maja Borg. Since language creates the reality it describes, then no aspect of reality “is a simple and separate entity”. Intelligently playing with this notion, the director re-enacts cliché depictions of manliness while pregnant, thus bleeding dry of their initial connotations the images and the stereotypical ideas they represent. The mix of super 8mm footage and watercolour-negative animation makes for a poignant and innovative parallel between the body’s ability to create new life to the artist’s ability to create new meaning. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
MELANIE BONAJO
Screened at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Night Soil – Economy of Love portrays “a Brooklyn-based movement of female sex workers, regarding their work as a way for women to reclaim power in a male-dominated pleasure zone; their mission being to rearrange sexual conventions and ideas about intimacy itself. Vivid imagery is accompanied by a spoken score, revealing Bonajo’s vision on contemporary spirituality and expectations surrounding gender roles, by playful, sensual, and feminist-driven means. (…) Bonajo questions the complex relationships that exist within and without the natural world, challenging the traditional notions that divide nature, people, and technology.” (Galerie AKINCI)
Directed by: 
FLORENCIA ALIBERTI
Screened at IDFA Amsterdam, “(Self)exhibitions is a found footage documentary film made with home movies, that approaches to new forms of self-representation and exhibition of our intimacy on the internet and in social networks. Confessional and private experiences, turned public and exposed on the web, giving rise to new self-narratives that become part of a spontaneous circuit of imitations, recurrences and replies between web users, determining the way we show ourselves. The film is the final result of a series of short pieces (from 3 to 5 minutes) conceived for a video-installation.” (Festival Scope)
Directed by: 
CHRISTOS MASSALAS
Cheeky and whimsical, Flowers and Bottoms relies on the charmingly nonsensical in order to relax the audience into enjoying what is ultimately an erotic and delightful love letter. In a dark room, an anonymous viewer watches a film made solely with shots of flowers and buttocks, a melancholic birthday present from what we understand is a former lover. Beyond its assumed absurdity and surrealism, the film skilfully juggles multi-layered observation and exhibitionism, bringing the audience to the blushing realization that what is often publicly labeled as vulgar is what we intimately find sensuous and endearing. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
KRISTIN LI
A mix of documentary and animation, Two Snakes is the personal essay of a person unrooted from the native land, striving to reconcile expat feelings of otherness with fragments of different cultural heritages. Screened at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, this short film explores how legends and personal history dissolve into each-other as the popular Chinese story of the two snakes is interpreted, deconstructed and rearranged, in search of an identity built from fragments of memories and re-appropriated narratives. Self-deprecating and self-aware, Two Snakes ultimately raises a question: can there ever be such a thing as a sense of belonging? (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2017)
Directed by: 
RINO STEFANO TAGLIAFIERRO
Fingers languorously part the lips of book pages, the straps of dresses fall off of milky skins, sensuous gazes entice the viewer in a sensual act of artistic voyeurism. Rino Stefano Tagliafierro returns to BIEFF with Peep Show, animating classical paintings as in his previous Beauty, this time narrowing his focus on the sensorial pleasures of erotic art. Balancing between the suggestive and the explicit in this mesmerizing homage to the history of art, the director explores sensuality across time and cultures, masterfully building and releasing the pleasurable tension of voyeurism. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2017)