Young contemporary horror talent Rob Savage tells his own story at the Short Festival
In the International Competition: the Iranian film Bloody Gravel on Afghan migrants and the Spanish film As Dùas en Punto on resistance
East Asia Now offers a glimpse into the most recent currents in young Asian cinema
The city of Venice as a backdrop to the shorts of Young Filmmakers at Ca’ Foscari – VIU
The thirteenth edition of the Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival began yesterday in the venues located throughout the Venetian lagoon. The pre-opening of the Festival was held the day before at the Santa Margherita Auditorium, where the film critic Paolo Lughi conducted his lectio magistralis on Vita, Morte e Miracoli del Cinema (e delle Nouvelle Vagues), where he talked about his experience as a youth in the seventies at the Cineforums in Trieste, as well as the cyclical crises and resurrections of cinema. A screening of the short Antea followed, a short film made by the students of the Master in Fine Arts in Film Making at Ca’ Foscari, on the occasion of their graduation ceremony. The first day started in honor of the aspiring directors who study in Venice with the Young Filmmakers at Ca’ Foscari – VIU program. The shorts made by the students from the summer school “Films in Venice and Filming Venice” were presented on the initiative of the Venice International University. Thanks to a multicultural and multidisciplinary approach to the study and practice of cinema, twenty five students from all over the world made five short films that explore the nature of human relationships against the backdrop of the city of Venice. Subsequently the Special Programme East Asia Now was held, curated for many years by Stefano Locati. As in previous years, this year’s selection of short films offers a glimpse into the most recent cinematic trends in young East Asian cinema. All three selected shorts revolve around the theme of the condition of women in contemporary society, melding surrealism with magical realism. The first short is Aunt Lotus & Her Dream Bicycle by singaporean director Kew Lin, which tells the story of an elderly woman who decides to pursue acting, and where it is possible to see how metanarrative cinema is blended with comedy. The Sea on the Day When the Magic Returns, by Korean director Han Jiwon, gives an account of the crumbling certainties of a woman through delicate and suggestive animation. Bird Woman, by Japanese director Oohara Tokio, closes the program with a story dealing with the harsh reality faced by women who have experienced sexual harassment on public transport, with a surrealist and ironic approach.
This was followed by the official opening of the thirteenth edition of the Short with the institutional greetings from the Vice-Rector for the right to education and student services Elti Cattaruzza, the Councilor of the Municipality of Venice Paola Mar and the Deputy-Rector delegate for Relations of the territory Antonio Marcomini. “The Festival brings as many as 30 works from 28 countries to Venice”, emphasized Vice-Rector Elti Cattaruzza, “It is a festival made by students who have worked on all levels for the success of this festival and out of love for this art. I thank them for their fundamental contribution, which from this year also includes students from Iuav and the Academy of Fine Arts. One of the most relevant themes emerging from the International Competition shorts this year is a very important and heartfelt one, that of migration. ‘The Short,’ continued Deputy-Rector Antonio Marcomini, ‘is an international benchmark that has achieved a remarkable result in thirteen editions. The festival spreads culture and culture is above the parties, but this does not mean that it is inert in the face of what happens. Culture contributes to conflict resolution”. He then gave the floor to a representative of the Ukrainian student community who read a message drawing attention to the ongoing conflict, highlighting the injustice of the war perpetrated by the Russian Federation against the Ukrainian population. A message of greeting was also read out by the President of the Veneto Region, Luca Zaia, and the President of the Venice Foundation, Michele Bugliesi. This was followed by the Pro-rector Vicario Antonio Marcomini declaring the Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival 2023 open.
The program continued with one of the most important guests of the 13th Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival, Rob Savage, a young British genre director, who talked about his career from the beginning to his future projects. The mediator was John Bleasdale, Ca’ Foscari Professor and movie critic. Savage is only thirty but with an already considerable wealth of experience: he is one of the most interesting modern horror filmmakers thanks to his three full-length movies highly acclaimed from critics: Host (2020), Dashcam (2021), The Boogeyman, this latter will be released in June. He ironically talked about his first years which led him to transform its full-length movie – shot with his friends when he was only seventeen, almost for fun – to his bright career. Before being well-known, Savage self-financed his productions by creating music videos – the one for the Dear Reader’s song Took Them Away was screened – and short films. He thought of them to be a strong tool to show his abilities inside this industry. However, Savage said to have grown up with the horror cinema, “maybe a reaction to my hippie parents” he said, and that he always had wanted to challenge himself in this field and in this genre. Later, his short film Salt was screened and in two dense minutes it created a blood-curdling setting: all the audience was very focused on it. Oddly, the pandemic was his turning point which gave him the idea – born as a joke from Savage to his friends – to use the videocall websites. This is how Host was born, which trailer was also screened during the program, a film that catches a séance via Zoom. Lastly, there was the projection of the The Boogeyman trailer – by adapting the homonymous Stephen King’s novel –, Savage’s last work that has claimed his presence in Hollywood. He gave some advice to the aspiring filmmakers, and one of them to ride the media wave, that he thinks as necessary to “skip the line” in the movie industry. To conclude, Savage greeted the audience by advising young directors to surround themselves with proactive and bright people and putting aside the artists’ ego in order to remain open to brand-new ideas.
The first day ended with the screening of the first six short films of the International Competition in the Santa Margherita Auditorium. The program was opened with Tear Off, the animated short film by C. Del Negro, C. Fargier, H. Neveu, C. Souchard, N. Bashin, M. Petremand and M. Bourgeuil, students from the French animation school Supinfocom Rubika. The audience was transported into a bee’s dark and claustrophobic world, following its adventure in seeking salvation from the Destructive Hornet. It was then followed by Not for sale, by Miriam & Alejandro Sánchez Porras from the UK. It narrated the story of a fake art sale organized by an art dealer and his team as a form of revenge against the arrogant CEO of the supermarket chain that left them bankrupt. The short reflected on how the desire for revenge could turn the victim into the perpetrator. Bloody Gravel by Hojjat Hosseini from Iran was then screened. Th storyline focused on a young couple, Roya and Bahsir, who, in the attempt to escape Afghanistan, had to rely on human traffickers. The film underlined the value of individual morality facing violence and despair. Afterwards there was As Dúas en Punto, by Brazilian director Uliane Tatit, that guided the audience into the lives of Maruxa and Coralia, two anarchists under the Francoist regime who used to leave their houses every day always at two o’clock wearing colorful clothes and makeup as sign of resistance. With Runaway, by Georgian director Salome Kintsurashvili, the audience witnessed a fugitive seeking asylum, who brought turmoil into a Georgian family living in Moscow, especially little Gigi’s family, who was torn between admiration and rivalry. Rozkwit Zimowy, by Ivan Krupenikov from the Warsaw Film School closed the first day of screenings, which narrated about an old mercenary who waited for the opportunity to retire and meet the girl who would have changed his perspective, in a world ravaged by environmental catastrophe.
Lastly, the Short maintained even this year its “widespread” nature, inaugurating two of the five partner venues: the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale that hosted the screenings of the programs East Asia Now and Short meets Whistling Woods International, with three shorts from the most important Indian film school.