• 4 March 2024

Unveiling the 14th edition of the Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival








The fourteenth edition of Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival, the first film festival in Europe to be initiated, organized and hosted entirely by a university, will take the stage from the 20th to the 23rd of March, coordinated by the artistic director Roberta Novielli. Once again, the festival will be ‘widespread’ across Venice, keeping the Auditorium Santa Margherita – Emanuele Severino as the main screen.

An edition that is varied as usual, with the main and side competitions, important international guests and the special programs. This has been made possible thanks to the support of the Fondazione di Venezia, the partners Avani Rio Novo Venice Hotel, the Italian ‘short’ cinema VOD platform WeShort and Carpenè-Malvolti, the oldest prosecco wine producing company. The awards have been arranged thanks to the contribution of the National Museum of Cinema of Turin, CINIT – Cineforum Italiano, the Municipality of Venice – Murano – Burano, the Conservatorio ‘Arrigo Pedrollo’ of Vicenza, VeneziaComics, also with the partnership of the two festivals Le Giornate della Luce in Spilimbergo, a festival dedicated to the masters of photography in Italian cinema, and South Italy International Film Festival, the ‘festival of the South’, held in Barletta.

The Short is still a festival made for the youth by the youth (there are more than two hundred students volunteering this year). It all began with the Ca’ Foscari University, but thanks to its ‘widespread’ nature, the festival is year after year becoming a part of the cultural life of the city of Venice, celebrated by Manuele Fior‘s splendid poster, as his second collaboration with the festival. Guests will be able to attend programs not only at the Auditorium, but also in six other locations: the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, the Casa del Cinema, the National Archaeological Museum, the Museo d’Arte Orientale – Ca’ Pesaro, the Museo di Palazzo Grimani and the In Paradiso at the Giardini della Biennale, not to mention the multi-purpose spaces of the Avani Rio Novo Venice Hotel.

The International Competition is the crucial part of the event, which has earned the festival the reputation of a sort of world championship for young cinema over the years, screening 30 of the best short films made by students from universities and film schools all over the world in the last year. It is, therefore, no coincidence that war and its dire consequences, particularly on the lives of young people and children, is so relevant this year; in Father’s Footsteps by Mohamad W. Ali, a mother tries to protect her son from the horrors of war in Syria, and in The Sweetness of Air by MD Rabbi Bhuiyan from Bangladesh, a young orphan makes a series of deeply symbolic encounters in a world in ruins. In Game, Interrupted by Ilayda Iseri, set on the eve of the 1979 Turkish coup d’état, two brothers try to forestall the course of events through games and imagination, while the Iranian The Borders Never Die by Hamidreza Arjomandi depicts a Kurdish couple embarking on a very classic (and tragic) journey of hope, fleeing war and searching for a border to cross. Additionally, two Italian short films are competing: We Should All Be Futurists by Angela Morelli, from the Rome CSC, and the collectively animated short film La Notte from the Turin CSC. Together with the latter there will be three other animated short films in the competition and each of them is different, from a stylistic technique point of view.

The international jury, who convene to confer the main awards of the competition, will be made up of three important people from the film industry, as usual: this year, we have the Italian director and screenwriter Antonietta De Lillo, author of a remarkable amount of movies, from her first fiction film  Una casa in bilico (1985), winner of a Nastro d’Argento, to her latest Fulci Talks (2021). She moves with great freedom of expression between short films, featurettes and feature films, while also switching between, or even mixing, fiction and documentary, as done in works like Il resto di niente (2004) and La pazza della porta accanto (2013). Secondly, we have Ghasideh Golmakani, an Iranian director and producer who moved to Paris in her formative years, where she studied more extensively the works of her fellow Iranian female directors. In her films, she bravely confronts the taboos of her native society, as seen in the short films, Limbo (2017), Online Shopping (2017) and Horn (2018). Last but not least, we have Cynthia Felando, cinema and media professor at the University of California in Santa Barbara, who dedicated a great part of her research to the short film format, which she considers to be an independent cinematographic narrative format; her research merged into the monograph, Discovering Short Films: The History and Style of Live-action Shorts. Dr. Felando has also taken part in various festivals in different roles. These three jurors will also be at the center of the Jury Special Program, where they will meet the audience and present short films directed or chosen by them.

There are several awards that the jury will give to the short films taking part in the International Competition: in fact, as well as the first prize, there is also the special mention, “National Cinema Museum”, for the work offering the best contribution to cinema as an art, and the special mention, “WeShort”, for the work offering the best experimentation with different film languages. Technical juries will choose the recipient of the special mention,  “Storie di Vitae” Carpenè-Malvolti, for best script (jurors: Domenico Scimone, Eduardo Fernando Varela, Alessandro Loprieno), the special mention, “Conservatorio di Vicenza”, for best score (jurors: Davide Tiso, Davide Vendramin, Laura Zattra, Paolo Furlani, Stefano Lorenzetti), the special mention, “The Days of the Light”, for best photography (jurors: Silvia Moras, Donato Guerra, Luca Pacilio), and the Pateh Sabally Award, chosen by the Municipality of Venice for multiculturality. As of this year, we have two new mentions: one for best acting, chosen by the South Italy International Film Festival (jurors: Giuseppe Marco Albano, Antonello De Leo, Alessandro Loprieno, Francesco Santalucia) and one for best animation short film, decided by VeneziaComics. The main awards will be glass statues offered by CONSORZIO PROMOVETRO MURANO, provider of the Veneto Region trademark Vetro Artistico ® Murano, historical consortium reality that brings together some of the most important glass productions of Murano and Venice.

The extensive range of special programs, tributes, focuses and retrospectives that will enrich the festival experience are distinguished by a strong female presence this year, including one of the greatest Italian directors ever, Liliana Cavani. Since the 1960s, the Emilian author has been one of the most recognisable voices on the Italian scene, capable of combining ferocity (The Cannibals) with the sublime (Francis of Assisi), but always with a clear and sharp gaze that embraces the contradictions of her subjects while keeping a strong international approach, as seen in The Night Porter, Beyond Good and Evil and Ripley’s Game. A year after receiving the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Film Festival, where she also presented her latest film, The Order of Time, she will return to Venice again. She will converse with professor and film critic Anton Giulio Mancino, retracing her extensive career, while excerpts of her most famous works will be cast on screen. Moreover, the English animator and illustrator Joanna Quinn will also appear at the festival. She boasts three Oscar nominations for best animated short film: a testament to the incredible consistency in quality that she has kept from the 1980s up until now. While works such as Wife of Bath and The Canterbury Tales have made her famous and granted her numerous awards (including a BAFTA and an Emmy), it is certainly the trials and tribulations of her alter ego Beryl that make her production extraordinarily unique and interesting. Her works, from Girls’ Night Out to the recent Affairs of the Art (the last of her Oscar-nominated works), are constant and extremely current, reflecting on the role of women in society, the pressures they are forced to endure and the impossible perfection required for their bodies. At the Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival, she will take centre stage for an extended conversation with the animation expert, Davide Giurlando, which will be followed by screenings of three shorts and two making-ofs and, above all, a workshop, during which she will reveal some of the secrets of her creative process.

Ninagawa Mika, undoubtedly the most famous contemporary Japanese photographer, brought her own vision – with a pop and very colourful aesthetic – to cinema, as she made her cinematographic debut in 2007 with Sakuran, an original and “heretical” re-interpretation of medieval Japan. Ninagawa, the daughter of one of the greatest Japanese playwrights of the 20th century, will be connected remotely to converse with producer Kusakabe Keiko and present the Italian edition of her autobiography, Becoming Ninagawa Mika, published by Cue Press. This will be an opportunity for the Italian audience to discover the extraordinary influence Ninagawa exerts on Japanese aesthetics today, which is the result not only of the numerous international exhibitions dedicated to her and the photographic books collecting her works, but also of the images she has created. In addition to her five films (and one Netflix series), we should not underestimate her contribution to the field of advertising and music videos, where she has collaborated with super-groups such as AKB48. Another person that shares Ninagawa’s love of photography is Živa Kraus, a Croatian (but Venetian by adoption) gallerist, painter and video artist, as well as a long-time partner of Peggy Guggenheim. Kraus will be interviewed by photography professor Cristina Baldacci to retrace the milestones of her bright career through the photos she has taken. The conversation will also include the screening of one of her experimental videos (1976). After studying in Zagreb, Kraus moved to Venice in the 1970s, where she frequented Studio Vedova, Peggy Guggenheim and Paolo Cardazzo. In 1979 she created the Ikona Photo Gallery and in 1989 the Ikona Venezia International School of Photography, through which she introduced some of the leading contemporary photographers to the public, soon becoming a reference point for the entire lagoon art scene and the Biennale itself.

Another important guest of the 14th edition will be the French director and screenwriter Philippe Le Guay, present thanks to a program in cooperation with the Alliance Française. Le Guay made his debut in the 1980s, with a career spanning multiple genres and styles, from costume films to thrillers, from noir to political dramas, but he stood out most for his comedies with a fresh and witty touch. It is impossible not to remember the irresistible Spanish maids in The Women on the 6th Floor, for which Carmen Maura received the César Award for Best Supporting Actress. It is also difficult to forget the playful banter between Lambert Wilson and Fabrice Luchini in Bicycling with Molière, an ironic homage to the world of theatre and an effective modernisation of Molière. Le Guay will be in Venice to retrace his career with Marie-Christine Jamet, director of the Alliance Française and professor at Ca’ Foscari, while scenes from his films will be cast on the Auditorium screen.  From France we will then fly to the other side of the world, for the special program dedicated to the Indian director Faraz Arif Ansari, curated by Cecilia Cossio. He is widely recognized in the festival network for his LGBTQ+ films in which he analyzes the different interpretations of “queer”. Ansari will be remotely connecting from Mumbai to talk about his still young career and introduce the screening of three of his most recent short films: Siberia (2015), Sisak (Sobbing, 2017) and Sheer Qorma (Milk and Dates, 2021). His is a political cinema that highlights the problems of the queer community in contemporary India. His social calling is also testified by the numerous initiatives he has undertaken over the years to bring art (with cinema and theatre at the forefront) to the streets, in contact with the children of the slums.

The international guests are complemented by a series of recurring special programs that have distinguished the festival for years and are a vital part of its identity. We begin with the customary focus on early cinema which, in a curious short-circuit, is dedicated this year to the man who has always curated the program, Carlo Montanaro, former director of the Venice Academy of Fine Arts and still one of the main organizers of the Silent Film Days. This is because this year is the tenth anniversary of his house-museum La fabbrica del vedere (Factory of Seeing), which includes the Carlo Montanaro Archive collection where, since the 1960s, he has gathered and cataloged an impressive amount of machinery, reels, photographs and various memorabilia describing the origins of cinema, dating back to the 17th century. East Asia Now, now a tradition, has curator Stefano Locati showing the audience the latest trends in Asian short films. The four short films presented – from Japan, Myanmar, Singapore and the Philippines – explore a multitude of themes united by an intimate, almost metaphysical angle. There will be works by directors well-established on the festival circuit but unknown in Italy, such as Igarashi Kohei (Two of Us) and Nelson Yeo (Bagasi). Another classic is the slot dedicated to Italian video art curated by Elisabetta Di Sopra, who, with the collaboration of the Yearbook video art archive, concludes the investigation about the artist’s body this year. Among the programs making a comeback, we have the two dedicated to the VideoConcorso Pasinetti and the Venice International University summer school. Finally, there will be a moment reserved for this year’s three partner projects: the VOD platform WeShort, the South Italy International Film Festival and VeneziaComics.

The parallel competitions that have run alongside the main one for years will make a return: the CINIT Music Video Competition is now at its eighth edition and will present the ten best music videos produced by students from universities and film schools in the last year. They will be judged by a special jury made up of Giovanni Bedeschi, Alice D’Este and Giordano Giordani. The eleventh edition of the High School Competition will consist of videos made by high school students from all over the world, with eight finalists. The best one will be awarded by a jury made up of Ca’ Foscari University students. The collaboration with the festival Le Giornate della Luce has been renewed, with eight short films selected to be shown in Spilimbergo in a dedicated competition. A similar initiative has also been set up for the South Italy International Film Festival, for which four works have been selected.

Finally, the circle opened by Manuele Fior‘s poster dedicated to Venice will close symbolically with the music show on the final evening. It will be an unforgettable musical event, in which Musicafoscari, the musical project of Ca’ Foscari University, will play the soundtrack of Buster Keaton’s iconic short film One Week, directed by Daniele Goldoni, in what promises to be a perfect marriage of sounds and images.