Venice, 8 October 2021. The third day of the Ca ‘Foscari Short Film Festival saw the screening of the last 12 short films taking part in the International Competition at Santa Margherita Auditorium. First among all, Termites of the Indian Jaybrata Das was set in a dystopian society in which literature, art, cinema, and music were forbidden. It tells the story of a man who, after getting in contact with the page of a forbidden book given to him by a child, experiences an existential dilemma. Directly from Mexico comes Bungee to the beyond by El Huitzo, the story of three friends after the death of their best friend, decide to take his body to Acapulco to realize his dream of going bungee jumping. Following that, the Italian short Where the leaves fall by Xin Alessandro Zheng which tells the story of Giacomo, a young second-generation Italian Chinese, and his journey to Wencheng county to bring back the ashes of his father who died prematurely; his will become a journey towards the search for his roots thanks to the help of his grandfather. Thereafter, The Solace of Ruins by Gabriela Lourenzato, in which the film director narrates the story of the little Madu. Together with a companion, she looks for a very well known woman that disappeared in mysterious circumstances. In the short, there are numerous references to the LGBTQIA+ community as well as the current social situation in Brazil. Instead, The Bitch by Ville Niemi is set in the Scandinavian society of the ‘70s. It is the dark and tragicomic narration of a missing girl, a tale of passionate love and burning hate. Les trous noirs (Black holes) by Pierre Lazarus concluded the day. The short tells the story of David’s mysterious coma and the consequences it has on the lives of his parents, best friend and of the policeman in charge of the investigations. The story is captured by two cameras that symbolise a collective truth made up of fragments and of what is left unsaid.
In the evening, the international competition ended with the screening of the last six short films. Opening the dance was the animated work Migrants co-directed by H. Caby, A. Dupriez, A. Kubiak, L. Lermytte, Z. Devise, graduates from the Pôle 3D School, in France. An intertwining of some of the most important themes in our current society such as racism, migration and climate emergency are in stark contrast to the sweetness of the two protagonists, two plush polar bears, who face a journey to a land unknown to them. This is followed by The Last Illusion by Russian Vladimir Feklenko, which tells the drama of an elderly illusionist, whose great and acclaimed performances are now a vague memory. To raise some money, he tries one last show that ends up miserably for the audience, but the message conveyed will be much deeper. Sonia Ladidà Schiavone, an Italian woman who studies directing in Iceland, has brought to the big screen Round 0, a story of ambition and hope centered on a group of boxers who are preparing to become adults, hiding their frailties to maintain a commonly accepted social appearance. The fourth short movie presented at the festival is Gossipy by Willy Suarez. The movie features an old curious and gossipy lady, that watches every move of her neighborhood. In one of her evening spent in people watching, she is convinced to have witnessed a kidnap. With the help of a delivery boy, she begins an extraordinary journey for the rescue of the two missing girls. A toy in the river, by filipino director Alphie Velasco, tells the touching story of a deathly incident, a child that drowns shortly after he stole a toy. An oneiric and fantastic journey, a tala of guilts and redemption. Also present the pressing theme of pollution and the climate disaster. The closing screening of the eleventh edition is Romantic Egg, from the Chinese director Sun Xiangping. A young protagonist is assigned the perilous task of rescuing planet Earth, on a thrilling countdown to its very extinction. With the help of friendly insects, and mysterious objects she begins her mission of saving the Earth. An adventure scattered with quotations and homages to literature and cinema.
One of the most anticipated programs of the day was the usual Jury’s special Program for sure; during this day various works have been projected, all chosen and directed by the three members of the contest’s International Jury: Philippe Claudel, Tony Grillo and Laura Aimone. By Philippe Claudel, a French director and a worldwide translated author, a shots selection from four of his feature films was presented, respectively: Il y a longtemps que je t’aime, with Kristin Scott Thomas as the film’s lead protagonist, Tous les soleils, taking place in Strasburg and portrayed by Stefano Accorsi, Avant l’hiver, a thriller with Daniel Auteuil as a middle-aged man facing an existential crisis, and last but not least Une enfance, a highly praised film thanks to the credibility of both the characters and the actors. The second juror to set foot on stage has been the American Tony Grillo, an indipendent director and animator who collaborated with important figures from the animated cinema and more. Viewers had the opportunity to witness the projection of two of his works: Goodwin VS Badwin – The golden Crosses (2012) and It’s a shame (2016). The first one is an animated movie that follows the story of two twins facing both surreal and irreverent events (and politically incorrect too), while the second one was a music video packed with an innovative mix of images, historic reportages and black & white films. Laura Aimone, a professional figure working in various ways for some of the most important international festivals, presented her 2019 debut film as a director. In Il carnevale della vita, Laura addresses current issues like freedom and the longing and the courage to live one’s passions with authenticity, going through a journey and the final homecoming.
The day began with the presentation of Atelier Video Essay, one of the initiatives of the Quarta Parete collective. They made it possible to discover the form of the video-essay, an experimental videomaking form that is acquiring a central role in film criticism. The workshop has given life to productions that deal with different themes, ranging from investigation of male fragility in Boys (not) cry – Masculinity in Xavier Dolan’s cinema, to the representation of Japanese cuisine in animated films with JapanMeal – Only With Eyes. Other video-essays also deal with: the analysis of queer themes through the case study of films like The ignorant fairies and The goddess fortune in The Queer in the cinema by Ferzan Özpetek; the analysis of the second season of The Hunting with The Ghosts of Bly Manor; ending with Working in the shadows – The representation of female work in cinema, a starting point to reflect on women contribution in the working community and workers’ struggle.
The day continued with the first part of the special program dedicated to Mujeres in cinema, a group of Italian women who work in various capacities in the cinema and who fight, among other things, to achieve gender equality in the Italian, and not only, film industry. In this first part of the program, works belonging to the categories of experimental cinema, documentary and web series were presented. These types of audiovisual tools have been used and exploited to their full potential to bring urgent issues, inconsistencies, and dramas of the contemporary world to the screen. Works that place women at the center, in all their facets and diversity, tearing them from the social “periphery” to which they are often relegated, and narrating them through the difficulties and obstacles that patriarchal society poses to their complete realization.
Early in the afternoon, time was instead dedicated to the special on Indian cinema, a recurring program curated by Cecilia Cossio who this year presented the short films Defiance (2019) and Castles in the Air (2020), respectively shot by Shazia Iqbal and Tarun Dudeja, two directors different from each other but united by the themes they address: both works have as protagonists young women who try to achieve their goals by clashing with a patriarchal and conservative environment.
Fatin, the protagonist of the first short film, is experiencing an identity crisis, clashing between the liberal ideals of the family and an oppressive system that, being she a woman, refuses to grant her a loan to continue her studies, as this does not comply with the rules of the community. Asha, the protagonist of the second work, wants instead to join the school’s handball team and, despite her coach discouraging her, struggles to make her dream come true. The theme fits perfectly with the focus of this year’s Short – also suggested by Lorenzo Mattotti’s poster – dedicated to the condition of women and the daily challenges she is still forced to face to achieve gender equality.
Following, it was presented the special program On paper: The Cinema (Sulla carta: Il Cinema) curated by the historic collaborator of the festival Carlo Montanaro, President of the Italian Association for Research in the History of Cinema and founder of “The factory of seeing” (“La fabbrica del vedere”). This year too, Montanaro has proposed a path on the cinema of the origins, and, on this occasion, he focused on the fundamental role of paper in cinema, from its birth to the “animation process”. In the history of cinema, paper has been set aside and rediscovered several times, to the point of becoming the starting point for offering an artificial life to images. Objects, puppets, and natural elements have experienced a renaissance thanks to paper, triggering a process that has not been stopped with the advent of the digital. The program allowed the public to (re)discover some pioneers of animated cinema such as Èmile Cohl, Pat Sullivan and Gaston Velle.