Cannes appreciates short films. That’s just the way it is. Besides the shorts, that are getting selected into the Official Competition, with the chance to win a Palme d’Or, and the Cinéfondation selection for film students all around the world, the festival also organises, probably the biggest and most important short film market in the world, at the centre of the Festival du Palace. And for us – the short film lovers – that’s a great blessing.
We had the chance to watch the short films of the Official Competition, first hand with the press yesterday. The selection is made out of 9 short films, and all of them is very different, in terms of general mood, genre and technique.
Waves ‘98 – Lebanon, Qatar / directed by Ely Dagher
A young boy feels devistating emptiness in the supressing and grey city of Beirut, in 1998. He wants to break free from this deliberating city, which slowly starting to grow on him. Finally he finds a way onto freedom with a group of others, and together, they start to feel joy again. Based on the teenagehood of director Ely Dagher, this beautifully animated short film gets into the mind of a lonely citizen, who wants to understand the space around him, and find his place in it again. By mixing the hand drawn and CGI animation with live footage of the city and other television-programmes, it gives a wonderfully diverse and subjective vision of a young man.
The Guests – Australia / d. Shane Danielsen
A tired mother is calming down her baby, at the dawn of night. She’s alone and waiting for her husband to come. Suddenly a bunch of older people knocking on her door, saying that they came for a housewarming party, which was organised by her distant husband. As the night goes on, the apartment is getting filled up with more and more guests, and after a while, the woman gets the sence, that something is just not right with these people. Shane Danielsen’s short film is playing with a special David Lynch-esque vibe, where we want to get some answers – just as the main character, of course – but with the lack of those, we accept the fact (with her) that the surreality can surround us in every possible situation. Great piece of short, with an ending, that keeps you thinking.
Sali (Tuesday) – Turkey, France / d. Ziya Demirel
A teenage girl goes up to the hill to smoke a cigarette, with the background of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, in Istambul. From this short routine in the morning, we follow her throughout the day, from class, to P.E., looking at a cute classmate, driving a bus, than go up to the hill again. On this road, we are living through with her the difficulties and everyday violence of Istambul. Ziya Demirel’s story is showing the real face of Turkey by showing its social weeknesses, but it doesn’t really get closer to its main character. I wish I could’ve seen more from this girl’s personal life, and not just her image she represents in society.
Sunday Lunch – France / d. Céline Devaux
Jean and his family have a seemingly nice tradition: every sunday they gather together for a family lunch. Jean hates these sundays. Being gay, he is always being faced with several ridiculous questions from his mother, father, two aunts and his grandmother, about his ‘relationships with man’ and so on. The only way out of this suffering situation is to start drinking at the very moment he enters the apartment. But he’s not the only one who’s driven onto the bottom of the bottle – every member of his family gets more open and miserable as they start to drink. After a few glasses of wine, the mother starts to talk about her sexual experiences from college, the silent father starts to complain about his life, and the two aunts are making up more and more awkward questions as the night goes on. I was amazed with Céline Devaux’s characters, who were so human, so real that they almost walked out of the screen – even though they were drawn with a truly surrealistic and grotesque animated technique. The unique visual and the voice of the hysterical narrator kept me wanting more and more from Jean and his family’s story. It was hands down, the best short film in the selection.
Love is Blind – UK / Dan Hodgson
Alice is arriving home with a passionate male friend, and getting on to the ’business’ immediately. But just as they start to get into the good stuff, her husband suddenly arrives home. She rapidly pushes her lover under the bed, and start to pretend sleeping immediately. As the husband enters the door, they start to speak on a language, that only both of them can understand. Let me just stop here without spoiling the main joke of this fun little short (it really is little, with its 6 minutes length). It’s refreshingly funny short film, that’s focusing on one central joke and a classic punch line – just like in the good old days of comedy.
Ave Maria – Palestine, France, Germany / d. Basil Khalil
An Israeli family (wife, husband and his mother in a wheelchair) crashes their car into a life-size Marie-statue, in front of a nunnery, in the West Bank. The silent nuns are suddenly have to deal with the loud and problematic Jewish family, who are – by the way – suppose to be under the strict rules of Sabbath. But as nuns are taking over the direction of this dreadful situation, together they fix the mess, the family was driven in. A fun short film that erases the sharp line between two completely different religions, by laughing at it’s particular rules. At first the wife can’t go into the nunnery, the husband can’t use the phone, and the nuns can’t speak without having to make 20 Hail Mary’s after every sentence. But as the story goes on, they start to wear off these barriers, and solve the problem as equal human beings. In the end, the only victim is the headless Marie-statue.
Buddy (Copain) – Belgium / d. Jan Roosens, Raf Roosens
The young boy Fré is living two completely different lives. One with his wealthy family, which is still in grief of losing their other son, and one with his shacky friends, who doesn’t know about his material and family situation – and he wants to keep it that way. But when the time comes, Fré has to face both of those life at the same and finally deal with all the painful phases of grief. Jan and Ran Roosen’s story is driven by a great character (main actor Felix Meyer has a truly interesting face and he doesn’t lack of the talent of acting as well) but it’s being a little bit too cautious to show the painfully and utterly true face of grief and shame. Visually well made, but not daring enough.
Patriot – UK / d. Eva Riley
Hannah and her father are preparing for a protest against the immigrants of England, with a bunch of patriotic friend of the father’s. But before they head out to the streets, Hannah decides to wander off a bit onto the neighbouring forest, to see some „gypsy animals”. Her prejudiced mind leads her into the door of a young boy, same as her age, and they start a childish fight, which leads to sincerely adult consequences. Patriot is highlighting the serious conflict between the rapidly raising immigrant population in England, and the proudly British people, who doesn’t want strangers in their country. The childish bickering of Hannah and the boy is representing the same fight which is going along amongst adults. With the great performances by the two children, the story is not becoming an ethical lesson on what’s right and what’s wrong.
Present Imperfect (Present Imperfecto) – Argentina / d. Iair Said
Martin is having his birthday today. But out of the loads of presents he gets, there’s not a single one that he actually likes, and he especially hates a blue-printed shirt. kHe definitely wants to return it to the store, but they don’t let him. So he decides to give it to the girl, who’s standing behind him – and this is a beginning of a beautiful friendship. Iair Said’s short film (staring himself) is starting out with a strange but seemingly interesting character, but as the weird story evolves, he just doesn’t grow into our heart and by leaving the interesting part behind, he’s just staying strange. A weird short film, but not in a good way.