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37º4 S (12', France, 2013)

Director: ADRIANO VALERIO

Winner of a Special Jury Mention at Cannes 2013, 37º4 Sspeaks about growing-up and the illusions first love entails, as well as about the notion of home and uprooting. In a lyrical cinematographic style with documentary elements, the story is set on a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean, inhabited by only 270 people. Two of them, the teenagers Nick and Anne, have been together for as long as they can remember. But Anne has to leave now for boarding school in London, which shakes the boy’s entire world. Her decision makes his present time blend with beautiful memories of the past and questions without answer related to an uncertain future.



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A RADIANT LIFE (17', France, 2013)

Director: MERYLL HARDT

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An unsettling retro science-fiction film, A RADIANT LIFE explores the grim side of Le Corbusier’s utopic visions of the ideal city. In a masterful blend of archive materials, choreography and fiction, MERYLL HARDT examines the alienation raising when the need for geometrical harmony of space overshadows the need for human warmth. The coldness of the concrete sneaks into the character’s lives, while the sterility of the house becomes a sterility of human relationships. The radiant city proves unable to support life. The living space turns from home into a concrete cage. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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AS THE FLAMES ROSE (27', Portugal, 2012)

Director: JOÃO RUI GUERRA DA MATA

A conceptually innovative film of great emotional power, AS THE FLAMES ROSE draws an intriguing parallel between the burning of Lisbon and the ending of a love relationship. While the town is on fire, a man (played by the charismatic João Pedro Rodrigues) receives an unexpected phone call and flames from his past burst through his bedroom, suffocating his life. Playing with influences from expressionism and melodrama, in a surprising mix of fiction and documentary, the film creates an impressive relationship between human body and space, through an elaborate mise-en-scene and a remarkable use of chiaroscuro lighting and projected images. This way it succeeds, with just one character, in a single space, to create an entire inner world, the room walls, the objects, the skin becoming a landscape of powerful human emotions. (BIEFF 2013)



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BECOMING (10', Romania, 2013)

Director: VLAD FENEŞAN

Glam meets medieval sorcery in BECOMING, a short film of sharp contrasts, that reinvents the silent film aesthetics following the principles of fashion cinema. With a stylized story, divided into five chapters, the film is a reinterpretation of the incubus myth, and follows the awakening of a beautiful witch, who is possessed by an obscure force. Prophecies, cryptic messages and a haunting soundtrack add to the hypnotic atmosphere of this futuristic sci-fi performance, where the minimalist set design and animation contrast with the baroque costumes, in an enigmatic story about envy and lust. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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BUTTER LAMP (16', France / China, 2013)

Director: HU WEI

With the support of:

World premiered in Cannes Critics' Week 2013, the conceptual experiment BUTTER LAMP is an intriguing investigation on cultural identity issues. Starting from a practice still popular in China, at the border between fiction and documentary, the film witnesses a photo shoot, where a photographer takes family pictures of several Tibetans, including a large nomadic family, against landmark backgrounds: the Great Wall of China, Disneyland, Beijing’s Olympic Stadium, a Hawaiian beach etc. Cleverly exploring the visual relation between foreground and background, BUTTER LAMP gets a significant socio-political charge. It becomes a subtle commentary on the abusive assimilation of Tibetan culture by China and the Western world, the Tibetans being forced to fight from a peripheral position to preserve their identity. (Andreea Mihalcea, BIEFF 2013)



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CONTINUITY (41', Germany, 2012)

Director: OMER FAST

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An intriguing view on the psychological process of mourning, the unsettling CONTINUITY is a bizarre story that boldly defies the conventional narrative coherence. What seems like a young soldier’s return home from Afghanistan proves to be a ritual staged by his parents, who hire a series of male escorts to play the part of their son – who had actually died in combat – in a painful attempt to keep alive the memory of their deceased child. A touching tale about the difficulty to overcome the loss of loved ones, CONTINUITY is also an intelligent investigation on the complex relationship between fiction and reality, both in personal life and in cinema. (BIEFF 2013)



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DA VINCI (25', Italy, 2012)

Director: YURI ANCARANI

DA VINCI is an exceptional cinematic take on the amazing world of the modern operating theatre, in which the patient seems to have only a small part as all eyes are on the monitor. The final part of YURI ANCARANI’s trilogy is set in an operating theatre where a fabulous journey through the human body is undertaken by robot arms, with the surgeon at the joystick. Science fiction-like, it is reminiscent of Richard Fleischer's Fantastic Voyage. ANCARANI captures the whole operation with minute precision, beautifully lit, like a dazzling choreography, accompanied by an exciting soundtrack.” (Rotterdam Film Festival 2013)



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FORST (10', Germany, 2013)

Director: ULU BRAUN

In FORST, at the border between reality and imagination, the forest becomes a magical space. The film materializes the surreal fantasy of dreams in a surprising video-collage, that deliberately exposes its conventions. A woman jogs naked on a running track flanked by gravestones. A couple of dancers levitates above the surface of a lake, while an ethereal deer evaporates through the trees. In a natural amphitheatre, politicians stiffly applaud, from their chairs, a girl sleeping on the stage. All these happen in the usually so familiar, for all of us, space of the forest. Which thus becomes a totally unknown universe, full of mysteries, where myths and legends meet the families out for a Sunday picnic, to the children's great enthusiasm. (BIEFF 2013)



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GHL (17', Austria, 2012)

Director: LOTTE SCHREIBER

With the support of:

The system is out of control. Best Short Film at Edinburgh Film Festival 2013, GHL is an abstract visual essay on the crisis of capitalism. A man dressed in a business suit wanders through what appears to be a deserted park with late-modernist buildings, trying incessantly to reach someone on the phone. The voice-over conversation gradually proves to be a miscellaneous jumble of quotes from Rousseau, Marx or Baudrillard. Lost between rigid geometrical architectural structures, the man seems to be the last inhabitant of a dystopian world. Occasionally fractured by video inserts from a livelier past, the film eerily points to the contemporary global economic crisis. 



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HOTEL CALIFORNIA - NOBLESSE OBLIGE (9', Romania, 2013)

Director: CARMEN LIDIA VIDU

Dark and sensual, HOTEL CALIFORNIA is a mesmerizing black and white photo and video collage that tells an intricate tale of toxic relationships, a glimpse through the peeping hole into the protagonist’s memories. Set to the sultry voice of Noblesse Oblige’s lead singer, in this cover of The Eagles’ famous song, the filmmaker creatively envisions the inner turmoil of a young man remembering a seductive and destructive femme fatale, in a collage of past and present, vulnerability and inner demons. With a distinctive film noir atmosphere, HOTEL CALIFORNIA doesn’t talk about a place; hell is not somewhere you go, but something you carry around with you. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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IMAGE FISHERMAN (10', Romania, 2012)

Director: ALEXANDRU PETRU BĂDELIȚĂ

A hallucinatory LSD trip, IMAGE FISHERMAN is a mockery reinterpretation of the aesthetics of experimental cinema, a quirky exercise in free association and editing. In a collage of live-action and animation, the filmmaker reveals fragments of memories, subconscious thoughts, fears, obsessions, doubts, suggestively released from photo albums and letter-packed suitcases. The ironically grave voice-over commentary is playfully and energetically undermined by the eruption of kaleidoscopic images, in an uncontainable incandescence of imagination that is both flustering and entertaining. (BIEFF 2013)



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MOUNTAIN IN SHADOW (14', Spain, 2012)

Director: LOIS PATIÑO

A contemplative experience, the spellbinding MOUNTAIN IN SHADOW offers a poetic view on the relationship between the immensity of the landscape and the insignificance of the human being, through a hypnotic ballet of night-time skiers on a snowy slope. Starting from the white of the snow, the image turns increasingly darker and more stylized, almost black-and-white, as LOIS PATIÑO gradually shifts from mere representation of the mountain to a fascinating display of spectral, dreamlike spaces, transporting the viewer from the physical level to a metaphysical one. Treating the landscape as a tactile experience, by emphasizing texture and undermining spatial relations and materiality, the director creates a visually breath-taking choreography of the sublime.



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MYSTERY (12', Spain, 2013)

Director: CHEMA GARCĺA IBARRA

Nominated for the European Film Academy Awards 2013, the existentialist tragicomedy MYSTERY is an unconventional and highly delightful mix of magic realism, science-fiction and religious mystery. In a domestic fantasy universe, where the divine is an inherent side of the everyday, where the Virgin Mary offers cooking recipes and tells you at which supermarket you can get the best deals, MYSTERY tells the story of a middle-aged woman, Trini - devoted mother and wife, skillful housewife and gifted seamstress, who, after receiving a divine message through the back of a young man’s neck, decides to give up her life as she knew it and pursue her dreams. Standing out through a remarkable talent in staging reality, painterly aesthetics, a subtle sense of humor and a deep understanding of the human nature - all reminding of Ulrich Seidl and Roy Andersson - GARCĺA IBARRA manages to masterfully capture the absurd and the beauty of the human being, caught between earth and heaven, between the mundane and the spiritual, between triviality and transcendence. (Adina Pintilie, BIEFF 2013)



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NOT EYE (11', France, 2013)

Director: LAUREN MOFFATT

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Deliberately exposing its filmic conventions, NOT EYE is a compelling fiction disguised as documentary, that exposes the daily burden of being looked at (by others, by institutions, by surveillance cameras), burden that turns people into exhibits. A woman on the offensive, unwilling to admit defeat, comes up with an outrageous solution that deflects all the gazes pointed at her, while still allowing her to watch others. Adding on location filming to an eccentric interview footage makes the woman’s liberation even more exhilarating and empowering, while also making the viewer aware of the constant surveillance he is under. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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OUR DAYS, ABSOLUTELY, HAVE TO BE ENLIGHTENED (22', France, 2012)

Director: JEAN-GABRIEL PÉRIOT

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BIEFF 2010 Main Award winner, for EVEN IF SHE HAD BEEN A CRIMINAL, PÉRIOT returns with his OUR DAYS, ABSOLUTELY, HAVE TO BE ENLIGHTENED, a documentary experiment of great emotional power, about freedom and the strength of human affective bonds. We witness a concert given by the inmates of a prison in Orléans. Yet, they remain unseen, beyond the prison walls, all along the film, while the camera looks at those who listen to the music outside, in front of the prison. Silent emotions, the rapt faces of the listeners, humming along the prisoners, and their unrevealed personal histories, form a human gallery of potential stories, born out of the viewer's imagination.



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PATIO (17', Brazil, 2013)

Director: ALY MURITIBA

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The second part of a trilogy in progress about prison life, PATIO is a powerful discourse on freedom as a fundamental human right. After having worked himself for 7 years as a prison guard, ALY MURITIBA captures the prisoners' daily activities in the “patio” (the inner courtyard), using a fixed camera placed behind the bars. Formally daring, the filmmaker’s choice to shoot everything through the bars, without changing the vantage position, makes us viscerally experience the sense of confinement, as if we were prisoners ourselves. At the same time, the daily routines of the inmates (including the capoeira dance) and their conversations convey the humanity and warmth of these people, by contrast with the violence clichés used in the mainstream media representations of prison life.



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PRIMATE CINEMA: APES AS FAMILY (12', USA / UK, 2012)

Director: RACHEL MAYERI

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The first film ever created expressly for chimps and shown to an actual chimpanzee audience, the intriguing PRIMATE CINEMA: APES AS FAMILY, premiered in Berlinale 2013, becomes an interesting challenge addressed to the human viewer to re-evaluate his own behaviour. With a “story vs. response” structure, which is to say the fictional drama is intercut with images of the chimps in captivity watching it and mimicking the on-screen actions, the film raises thought-provoking questions about the effect of media not only on these primates, but also on humans. 



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QUEEN OF SPLINTERS (15', Finland, 2012)

Director: ANNA-SOFIA NYLUND

With the support of:

   

I’ve never been in love with any of the men in my life. I don't know what love is. The experimental documentary QUEEN OF SPLINTERS focuses on the intimate confession of a woman – a sort of promiscuous Queen of Sheba – struggling between the desire to win at short-term sexual power plays and the need for finding long-term mental comfort and security. Naked rag dolls portraying a five, thirty and sixty-year old version of herself bring to life smoldering anger, regrets and finally, reconciliation with the past. A disturbing account of an inanimate puppet about her search for love, about prostitution and sexual abuse, memories that become paradoxically vivid. (Andreea Mihalcea, BIEFF 2013)



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RIVER RITES (12', USA / Suriname, 2011)

Director: BEN RUSSELL

In a “master class of psychedelic ethnography”, “RUSSELL takes his transcendent cinema to new heights with his fascinating RIVER RITES, which transforms an idyllic riverside scene of a group of Saramaccan Maroon children - playing and washing in the river - into a sort of sacred animist rite.” (New Zealand Film Festival) “Mystery and beauty are created through a simple cinematic device. A river somewhere in Suriname: children and young adults run about in the water. From this scene that has a mythical sense to it, the filmmaker creates a dance, in which the grace of the people’s gestures becomes pure energy and rhythm. A cinematographic play in the truest sense of the word, reminiscent of some of Maya Deren’s films. Or, in other words, how cinema becomes poetry, the human body a tireless tightrope walker, and some simple dance steps a philosophy of life.” (Senscritique)



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RIVERS RETURN (12', Belgium / Slovenia, 2011)

Director: JOE VANHOUTTEGHEM

Mixing stunning violin music, symbolic choreography and images of constant motion and ephemerality, RIVERS RETURN is a powerful emotional experience, an almost magical allegory of life shown as a continuous, ever-transforming flow of events. If the constraints of time are proven to be unreal, with past, present and future constantly intermingling, time’s burden becomes ever more concrete. Caught in a race with no discernible destination, the characters hastily move about, trapping themselves in suits and then evading, taking a lifetime to find love. This visual essay of people’s shared destiny awakens the viewer’s realization of transience, of a life passing as quickly as water in the riverbed. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI (4', Romania, 2012)

Director: MIRCEA CANTOR

SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI is a conceptual video that suggests the ephemerality of human condition, the illusion of earthly glory and the hope for transcendence. A (beautiful) woman, like a bare-foot vestal dressed in white, unrolls a fuse in the (bandaged) palms of humble women and men in black clothes, bowed down on their knees. They sit in a circle. Once the woman passes the thread in the circle, she ignites it, continuing the unwinding. The flame passes on each palm, burning the fuse. The vestal exits the circle and watches impassibly the fire burning what is left from the fuse, in her hand. The performance resembles a ritual, accompanied by intensifying semandron sounds specific to the Orthodox call to prayer, where the humility of those who ask and vanity of the one who offers share the same fate, the inescapable death. (Luciana Dumitru, BIEFF 2013)



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THE CAPSULE (36', Greece, 2012)

Director: ATHINA RACHEL TSANGARI

With the support of:

   

A surrealist haute-couture fantasy, bearing the unmistakable signature of the director of ATTENBERG, THE CAPSULE is a fascinating allegorical exploration of the feminine mystery. Reminiscent of Jan Švankmajer, Pina Bausch and Maya Deren, the movie tells the story of a gothic matron and her seven young disciples, as they are initiated in the essence of femininity through a ritualistic danse macabre. An intelligent play on genre film conventions (horror, melodrama, fetish cinema), this seductive insight into feminine nature masterfully combines animation, choreography and live-action, in a thought-provoking dialogue between cinema, fashion and visual art. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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THE KING’S BODY (30', Portugal, 2013)

Director: JOÃO PEDRO RODRIGUES

An intriguing dialogue between the collective and the individual memory, THE KING’S BODY, world premiered in Locarno 2013, offers an unexpected and though-provoking view on history. Under the pretext of a casting, several musclemen are invited in front of the camera, to expose their well-built bodies, to read fragments from chronicles about the first king of Portugal and to talk about history, while in their background, footage of the legendary monarch’s statue is projected on a green screen. “Beginning as an investigation into (...) the past, it doesn’t take long for the film to become a portrait of the present, as each of the men describes their lives (...). The ironic clash between the mythic imagery of the king and these strong yet vulnerable characters is touching, and raises questions about the intersection of history and personal identity.” (Adam Cook, Cinemascope)



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THE MATRIARCH (9', Romania, 2013)

Director: BARNA NÉMETHI

Following his 2010 short URMUZ, BARNA NÉMETHI returns to BIEFF with THE MATRIARCH, a fashion film with horror elements, starring the two well-known Romanian actresses Luminița Gheorghiu (The Death of Mr. LăzărescuChild's Pose) and Monica Bîrlădeanu (Of Snails and MenFrancesca) in the lead parts. Made by the creative group Warden Collective, the film explores the grotesque-diva-seen-as-a-sex-predator iconography, in a baroque stylistic key, reminding of the fascinating universe of Erwin Olaf's photography. Addressing the issue of the voyeur viewer, BARNA NÉMETHI juggles in slow-motion with the iconic image of the femme fatale and with the myth of the satyr. In an unsettling and seductive mixture of grotesque and sensuality, the aging diva has to confront self-loathing when facing a younger version of herself. (Andreea Mihalcea, BIEFF 2013)



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THE MOTHER, THE SON AND THE ARCHITECT (16', The Netherlands, 2012)

Director: PETRA NOORDKAMP

With the support of:

PETRA NOORDKAMP’s THE MOTHER, THE SON AND THE ARCHITECT is a visually poetic diary investigating the link between built space and human history, an intimate unfolding of a brief love affair from the past. While the camera performs a lyrical choreography, catching an Italian modernist spherical church from varied points of view, an off-camera woman’s voice recollects long afternoon walks with Emilio – the son of the architect who had designed the church - before he committed a tragic act. Influenced by Antonioni’s cinematography style, NOORDKAMP manages to approach church’s volumes as sources of both alienation and tenderness.



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THE PILL OF HAPPINESS (12', Romania, 2013)

Director: CECILIA FÉLMERI

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The dark comedy THE PILL OF HAPPINESS is, on one hand, a satire on the TV reality show phenomenon, and on the other, a caustic commentary on the everyday abuses the ordinary Romanian faces in contemporary society, on the frustrations piling up day by day that can’t find closure in any other way than, of course, by watching television. In a dystopian reality show, such an unpleasant event is reenacted with a twist in which the bad guy receives his well-deserved pay-off, according to some sort of talion law. The film launches an interesting debate on the manipulative power of television, whose cinematic ability to create make-beliefs - reinforced with the based-on-real-events caption - enslaves the TV viewer, by means of narrowing the border between reality and fiction and through the mechanisms of empathy and identification with the hero. (based on Oana Ghera’s review, Film Menu #17)



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THE TURNER FILM DIARIES (26', The Netherlands / Taiwan, 2012)

Director: JAMES T. HONG & YIN-JU CHEN

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World premiered at IDFA 2013, the unsettling THE TURNER FILM DIARIES is a pseudo educational film set in an alternate future, that uses mock black and white archive footage to build a dystopian view of what would happen if humanity’s worst nightmares were to come true again. Based on the eponymous book, a controversial, extremely racist sci-fi novel, this short is a polemical documentation of a fictitious global ethnic cleansing, that taps into the collective fear of extremism taking precedence once more. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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THE WIDOW’S CRY (30', UK / Italy, 2010)

Director: EMILIANO MINUTELLI

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The deeply atmospheric THE WIDOW’S CRY is a film about ambiguous relationships, a surrealistic depiction of a mourning process. Brought together by the promise of a rich inheritance, four women, each married, at one point in their lives, to the same man, share a meal at their ex-husband’s funeral. Above the mantelpiece, a ghostly landscape painting - made by the deceased himself - inhabited by spectral figures dressed in black, sets the scene for a parallel narrative thread that reunites the characters in a shared moment of grief. Constantly surprising the viewer with its ambiguous depiction of space and characters, THE WIDOW’S CRY becomes an uncanny challenge to the conventional narrative form. (Diana Mereoiu, BIEFF 2013)



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TOKYO GIANTS (23', Belgium, 2012)

Director: NICOLAS PROVOST

PROVOST concludes PLOT POINT, his trilogy of subverted cinematic conventions, with TOKYO GIANTS, a short film presented in Oberhausen and Rotterdam in which the man in the street becomes an accidental film protagonist. Exposing the power of cinematic illusion, PROVOST transforms on-location footage of Tokyo’s citizens into what seems like a Yakuza movie. Genre film devices escalate the tension: meaningful glances, emphatic music and surreptitious sound effects create an irresolvable suspense and, with it, the film’s plot.