illustration by Ewa Borysewicz
Waiting for the Berlinale Shorts screening is always an unbelievably exciting time. It is inspiring to see so many people queuing up for a selection that always turns out to be a breath-taking experience. It was no different in the case of the first Berlinale Shorts screening where five exceptional films were shown to the professionals and film enthusiasts who gathered at the Cinemax in Berlin from all around the world.
The block contained five shorts of different genres: it was opened by an animation, To Thy Heart by Polish director Ewa Borysewicz, then came Salad Days, a mockumentary by Olias Barco (Belgium) and the documentary Om Amira by Naji Ismail (Egypt), which were followed by a shocking mixed-genre piece by Guillaume Cailleau (Germany) called LABORAT, and finally, the block was completed by a short fiction with a traditional narrative: As Long as Shotguns Remain by Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel (France).
The selection, as usual, displayed a perfect balance. It went from exciting to upsetting, from stressing to thought-provoking, then shocking, touching and reassuring. The only emotion one didn’t feel during the screening was boredom: everything else was there, from hatred to love, from anger to terror, from feeling pity to feeling totally uplifted. All films had in common exceptional quality and a perfect concept but otherwise they couldn’t have been more different. The most shocking piece was LABORAT, which is a semi-documentary about animal research, including the vivisection of a mouse shot from different distances, including an extreme close-up. Most of the audience covered their eyes but I forced myself to watch and although I felt extreme shock I didn’t regret it – the film, portraying clinical cleanness and clarity combined with a beautiful play of light and animation, expressed the 21st century angst most of us possess. Om Amira featured a hard-working Egyptian mother with sensitivity, Salad Days told about the financial crisis through the talking heads of a small restaurant with a lot of humour, To Thy Heart is experimental, enigmatic and beautifully filled with love at the same time whilst As Long as Shotguns Remain is a truly touching and moving story of love, loss and fraternal love. We can’t wait to see the next block.
review by Zsuzsanna Deák