September 16, 2022

BIEFF International Short Film Competition 2022: 35 visions on the fragility of the contemporary world

Innovative audiovisual experiments that address issues relevant to the contemporary world in often surprising ways, the short films included this year in the BIEFF International Competition propose new perspectives on the state of fragile equilibrium – defining for the historical moment we are going through. The selection curated by Oana Ghera, the artistic director of the festival, together with Flavia Dima, associate curator, includes 35 films from 27 countries, discursively organized into 7 curatorial themes, which will be seen for the first time on the big screen in Romania at the 12th edition of the International Experimental Film Festival (September 27 – October 2, Bucharest).

Through the selection of short films presented in the national (and even international) premiere as part of the International Competition, BIEFF continues its mission to discuss hot topics from a political and social point of view, bringing to the attention of the Romanian public short films from countries marked by  recent geo-conflicts policies such as Ukraine, Belarus, Palestine, but also narratives that discuss colonial and post-colonial dynamics from the perspective of directors from territories such as the Philippines, Singapore or Colombia.

When we talk about territories, we should always bear in mind the past and the complicated, often abusive methods by which they come to be held by certain dominant groups. Through this kind of lens, the selection of films included in the Lost and Found program aims to reveal the relationships of dependence, submission and control still present today in the so-called free world.

Set in spaces under military occupation, dictatorial or civil war, evoking memories or reflecting on death, the films included in the State (of) Terror program question both the state’s monopoly on violence and the representation of victims in the media.

Presented and acclaimed at prestigious festivals such as Locarno, Berlinale and Visions du Réel, the films in the Future (After) Life program investigate the way progress has left its mark on our way of life, from the central role of new technologies and artificial intelligence in our lives to the nature of work in contemporary times. Starting with the images of the present as reflected in the popular media, the 5 short films proposed for viewing suggest that the future is now.

In the same thematic line, the films in the Second Nature program speculate on contemporary anxieties, from the threat of virtual and biological viruses to imminent climate disasters, inviting viewers to reflect on the relationship with the natural world and this second nature constructed by man with the help of technology – the virtual world . Exploring the tension between representation and the represented object, the selected short films remind viewers that the nature addressed to the camera is profoundly different from that addressed to the human eye.

The short films included in the Bodily Rites program focus on the human body and the tasks assigned to it in a natural and social sense. Using diverse cinematic techniques, their authors deconstruct the patterns that govern traditional gender roles, campaigning for the re-appropriation of the body as a vehicle for the navigation of desire. Among the surprises reserved for viewers in the selection of 6 films included in this program is Exalted Mars (dir. Jean-Sébastien Chauvin) – awarded with the Teddy at this year’s edition of the Berlin International Film Festival, a sensual “tableau vivant” in which the body and the city are interconnected.

A fertile ground for love stories, the cinema becomes in the Legacies of Love program a space for expressing alternative visions of love and its absence. The Swimmers (dir. Charlie López), one of the five short films included in this selection, will be seen on the BIEFF big screen in its international premiere. From the Rotterdam International Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best Short Film, viewers will watch Nazarbazi, a search on the terrain of forbidden feelings, impossible to express in Iranian films subject to censorship.

A look back at the fragility of the human psyche, Handle with care, the program that borrows the theme of the 17th edition, proposes new forms of representation of phenomena such as loneliness, isolation and depression. Starting from the way in which traumatic experiences influence our existence both individually and collectively, the films included in the selection of this program also address possible mechanisms of resistance and rebellion in the face of oppression, reaffirming the need for radical social change.

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