• 22 March 2024


Many guests and works were presented yesterday at the fourteenth edition of the Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival. The main guest of the day was the French director and screenwriter, Philippe Le Guay, interviewed by Gabrielle Gamberini and Marie Christine Jamet on stage at the Santa Margherita Auditorium – Emanuele Severino. Le Guay recalled how his passion for cinema began at an early age, and after studying literature he attended the French school of cinema IDHEC, which, during his career, led him to direct films such as Bicycling with Molière, The Women on the 6th Floor, and The Cost of Living. We saw scenes from these feature films, together with others from Nightshift, Naked Normandie, and The Man in the Basement, and heard some of the director’s comments; it was an opportunity to reflect on the fragility of men: as a matter of fact, his characters are victims or perpetrators, adolescents rebelling against abuses, or adults who are indulgent with human flaws. What stands out from Le Guay’s stories are the breaking moments, capable of destroying solid bonds. In fact, in relation to his most famous film, The Women on the 6th Floor, the director explained: “in all our small lives we can discover different plans”, to remind us that, sometimes, the “cracks alongside the walls” can transform into interesting sparks to grasp. According to Le Guay, it is exactly from here that cinema is born.

There were twelve short films in the International Competition presented yesterday. Many topics were explored during the screenings at the Auditorium, starting with the second Italian film of the competition that inaugurated the evening screenings: We should all be futurists by Angela Norelli. The director presented a wonderful silent film using film archives and reinterpreting them in a modern way. Through the use of editing of various silent films, she shows the dualism of the society of the twenties between classic cinema and futurist cinema. Another innovative short film presented was Stabat Mater, a collective work by H. Maton, Q. Wittevrongel, A. Mage, C. Thelliez, and W. Defrance (France), that, through digital animation, presents the almost obsessive relationship between the artist and his work of art. A recurring topic in the screenings was family, starting with the animated short film inaugurating the afternoon: Devotions by Jessica Goh (Singapore/United States), a short film about the story of a family, with two little girls and their pregnant mother, finding herself facing a typhoon demolishing their house; confronting the tempest like a divine test, they all protect each other in their own way. The theme of family is also explored in Dielli, the short film created by Dritero Mehmetaj (Czech Republic/Kosovo), presenting the generational contrast between the protagonist and his father, with whom he tries to reconstruct their relationship despite his problems with alcoholism; the final scene invites us to reflect on redemption and the dynamic relation between the two characters. One of the other short films, Fragments of Us by Ido Gotlib (Germany), is another interpretation of the parent-child relationship, a conceptual work in which Samuel, thanks to the assistance of experimental sound therapy, manages to relive his own memories of his relationship with his parents in his father’s last months of life. The past is brought back to life thanks to the sound perception experienced by Samuel, which lets him relive the complex relationship with his family and pushes him to an unexpected result. We also find the theme of memory again in Memoir rambler by the director Sira Buranasri (Thailand) who uses the style of an intimate interview between her and her mother and presents a dreamlike vision of her actions, in black and white, alongside a documentarist one, with jokes exchanged with her mother. Romance was also present in various forms in some of the films: Romeo by Tynystan Temirzhan (Kirgizstan) is the story of a boy who decides to confess his love for a classmate the very day of their recital: she is his Juliet, and he wants to be her Romeo. The short film is set in an old abandoned building – a metaphor for the level of culture of Kirghizstan and of the spiritual ignorance of society; the two characters, according to the director, “represent hope, a little lighthouse in this era of mass-level degradation”. Apnea by Natalia Bermùdez (Mexico) follows the secret relationship between Renata, the protagonist, and her swimming instructor, Liliana. The work goes against the canonical telling of abuses in educational contests, where the victim is often considered as lacking agency. In this case on the other hand, the power dynamics hidden within this tormented relationship begin to emerge. The film reflects upon the nature of an ended relationship Closer by Augustė Gerikaitė (Lithuania), which describes the relationship between Bernardas and Silvija, ex-spouses who still share the same home. The director seeks to investigate a relationship in which lack of communication and discomfort reign, until an unexpected event makes the two remember the moment they fell in love. The short film explores to what extent memory of the past poses new feelings and whether bureaucracy can do anything in the face of feelings that are by nature swinging and spontaneous. The marital relationship is also central in director Dilu Maliackal’s AlvidaThe last goodbye (India) – the last screening of the day – but is here told as an absence. The theme of borders and migration is intertwined with that of the role of women and loss as the viewer traces the journey of the protagonist Miraal in search of her husband. On the road, we also follow the protagonist of director Maria Viktorova’s work, Sasha (Russia). The character who gives the short film its name finds himself facing an unforeseen fate, linked to a mysterious old woman he met on a train, which leads him to reconsider his decision never to return to his home village. Off the page, by Joan Oliver Nadal and Diego Gomez Tejedor (Spain), a short film that invites the viewer to reflect on the line between reality and fiction and the acceptance of one’s destiny, was presented next: Phill, in fact, discovers that he is living inside a novel and begins a journey to find the author with the goal of avoiding his wife’s death.

This year, the special program Thoughts from the Set was dedicated to Japanese photographer and filmmaker Ninagawa Mika. In the video message she sent us, the director emphasized the central role the female condition plays in her works, with the intention of empowering women and transforming her anger into creativity. Then Kusakabe Keiko took the stage. She, together with Roberta Novielli, retraced the highlights of Ninagawa Mika’s career. After the screening of trailers for three of Ninagawa’s films, Helter Skelter (2012), No Longer Human (2019) and xxxHOLiC (2022), the Italian edition of the director’s autobiography, Becoming Ninagawa Mika was presented–an interesting analysis of the dynamics which gave rise to her works and stimulated her artistic production. Next, the Auditorium welcomed Indian cinema expert Cecilia Cossio, curator of the program dedicated to director Faraz Arif Ansari who greeted and thanked the audience via a video message. The festival dedicated a space to a director who, through his filmography, shed light on social issues that are currently of extreme relevance: his films portray the lives and difficulties faced by the LGBTQIA+ minorities in India and in other countries. Three short films were screened for the occasion. The first of these, Siberia (2015), focuses on the projections created by a woman with a fragile mental state, while the other two short films embrace the theme of taboo relationships, like the ones between the protagonists of Sobbing (2017) and Milk and Dates (2021). The second day of the festival was opened by the VideoConcorso ‘Francesco Pasinetti’, a recurrent program at the festival, during which the audience could watch some of the winning works of the 21st edition of the festival. The program this year had a special focus on the city of Venice, with Sono la turista del mio viaggio by Muyi Li and Arcano veneziano by Serge Turgeon.