The post-pandemic world in the short movies of the International Competition: between Neon Phantom’s Brazilian riders and Singapore’s homeless people in Scavenger
Peter Lord introduces the Aardman Studio’s works
East Asia Now: a look at the latest trends in young Asian cinema
Today the Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival began in different locations in the Venetian lagoon. Stefano Locati opened the festival’s twelfth edition with the special program East Asia Now which he has now been curating for many years. As always, the special program selected four short movies coming from East and South-East Asia. The first two short movies screened were Posterity, directed by Malesian director Audrie Yeo, and The Scent of Rat Carcasses, directed by Indonesian director Dharma Putra Purna Nugraha. They both let the audience enter a supernatural dimension by investigating themes such as memory and cross-generational relationships. The program later moved on with The New Faces by Philippine director Mark Raymund Garcia. The movie is a reflection on post-pandemic humanity, framed by a voiceover and some performance techniques. The program closed with the Japanese short movie Bagmati River by Matsumoto Yusaku, who followed the protagonist’s journey from Japan to the Nepalese Himalayas in his desperate search for his brother.
The day later continued with the cartoon short film show by Aardman Studio, a famous animation studio founded in 1972 by Peter Lord and David Sproxton. Being the festival widespread in Venice, the showing took place in Santa Margherita Auditorium and in Casa del Cinema for a total of thirteen shorts. The short films retrace the story of the animation studio which is specialized in stop motion and it is the creator of iconic characters such as Wallace & Gromit. Among the shorts screened, presented by Peter Lord himself, there was also the Oscar-winning Creature Comforts, by Nick Park, fun and provocative, in which a series of interviews with animals from a zoo are imagined. To follow Wrong Trousers, directed by Nick Park as well, told the story of Wallace and his creation of robotic pants able to carry his dog around in his place. Some other short films were Angry Kid, by Darren Walsh, with the story of the plasticine-headed man and the human body and Morph, directed by Merlin Crossingham, who staged the adventures of the plasticine character who moves and changes shape.
At 17.00 was then held the opening ceremony, which was attended on stage by the Vice Rector of Student Services Elti Cattaruzza, Venice City Councilor Paola Mar and the Director of the Foundation of Venice Giovanni Dell’Olivo, in addition to the festival director Roberta Novielli, who thanked the large audience present in the room, thus officially beginning of the twelfth edition of the Festival.
Finally, following Peter Lord’s dedicated program, the evening of the first day ended with the projection of the first six short movies competing in the International Competition, all directed by students from the world’s most renowned cinema schools and universities. The first is titled Franceska, an animated short movie realized by Spanish director Alberto Cano. His project offers a contemporary reinterpretation of gothic novel Frankenstein, in which the mad scientist wishes to bring the diva he loves back to life. The animation then left place to the topic of guilt and the father-son dynamic: in his short movie titled Safe, through the tale of a father who isn’t sure how far he is willing to take it to help his son get out of an illegal situation, Ian Barling explores the concepts of protection and responsibility. It was then time for the Brazilian musical Neon Phantom, already introduced at Locarno, in which by telling the adventures of Brazilian young unemployed João, forced to take on a job as a food rider, director Leonardo Martinelli denounces the precarious reality of workers in the current gig economy. The fourth short movie in the competition is titled Congenital, in which Iranian directors Saman Hosseinpuor and Ako Zandkarimi – winners of last year’s edition – take on the topic of sexuality and non-conforming identities in rural and traditional Kurdistan: here, young Roja his forced to marry an old religious man. The next short movie was Teuner by director Ond̆rej Veverka. Set in communist prison in the ‘50s, the homonym protagonist gained the respect of many inmates because of his role as a doctor, but not that of Karel Kalina, with whom hostilities still persist. Nicholas Ong Kok Weng from Singapore then introduced his short Scavenger, the last of the six short movies shown today, through which the director tells the story of an elder homeless woman, Zhi Lian and her complex condition. The director puts in the spotlight the difficulties of an elder woman living alone on the fringes of society, but still relentless in her pursuit of inner peace, never losing hope for a better life.