BIEFF 2016: Danger is My Business, a cinema roller-coaster

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Connected to the beat of the European big cinema events, the Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival (BIEFF) presents an remarkable programme dedicated to the Golden Bear, Palm d’Or awarded short films at Berlinale 2016, Cannes 2015 or Venice 2015.

The movies from the Golden Shorts programme, will be released for the first time in Romania at the Music University in Bucharest on March 19, at 8 p.m.

The tickets for Golden Shorts are available through , as well as the tickets for all BIEFF screenings.


Golden Shorts: Best Films in Major Festivals

Only three weeks since the Berlinale 2016, Batrachian’s Ballad, awarded the Golden Bear, is released in Romanian theatres. Director Leonor Teles, born in the Romani community in Portugal, is the youngest female film director who has been ever awarded the Golden Bear. The movie is based on a very personal story about the Portuguese tradition to place ceramics frogs at the restaurants’ entrance in order to chase the Gypsies away.

Palme d’Or for short film at the Cannes festival last year was Waves ’98 directed by Lebanese filmmaker Ely Dagher, which represents a personal visual essay dedicated to his native city Beirut, as well as an artistic exploration of the relationship of the director with Liban, screened through the story of a young man disappointed with his life in the segregated Beirut.

Kung Fury, by David Sandberg, nominated for the European Film Academy Awards is both homage and a parody of the action movies with cops in the 80s. The short film has broken all records on Kickstarter, receiving a USD 630,000 financing from its fans.

Rate Me brought Fyzal Boulifa the Illy prize for short film at Cannes 2015 for the second time. The film tells the story of Coco, a teen escort presented through the reviews of the dating website’s users, while her real identity is doubtful.

To Be and to Come Back, the first non-fiction short film signed by Xacio Baño, awarded the Canal+ prize at Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival is minimalist tour de force where the author uses the meta-fiction as metaphor to explain his grandparents what a filmmaker means.

Belladonna, directed by Dubravka Turic, awarded the Orizzonti Prise at the Venice International Film Festival last year, starts from the Renaissance motif of Belladonna, the woman who used to poison herself to increase her eyeballs that would make her more beautiful and appealing.


Danger Is My Business, the human spirit vs the hazard of life

The films selected for the competition section Danger Is My Business convey the fortitude of the human spirit in light of its battle against the hazards of life. Through their looking glass, man’s daily entanglement with the elements, health disorders, small and large-scale brutality, brings her/himself towards a transcendental state of evolutionary conquest.

Winner of Vienna Short Film Award at Vienna Independent Shorts 2015 and world premiered at prestigious IDFA International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, Fabian Kaiser’s The Breath offers an entrancing, original look at the fortitude of society’s unsung hero of safety, the firefighter. Heavy on atmosphere and free of dialogue, Kaiser’s hybrid documentary observes a group of firemen as they go about their exercise drills, decked out in recognizable orange suits and hermetically sealed oxygen helmets. Their mechanical movement, assured in its steps and slowed by the weight of their gear, expresses steadfast confidence, but the eyes of their superior hide human vulnerability. When it’s his turn to don the mask, he proceeds down a labyrinthine passageway, on a rite of passage into fear and the unknown. With bated breath we witness his transcendence and inevitable return to our material world, cleansing himself for the next day to come. (Andrei Tănăsescu, BIEFF 2016). The screening at BIEFF is made possible with the kind support of the Embassy of Switzerland.

The Bureau of Melodramatic Research delivers the last installment of their Alien Passions trilogy with the video performance titled Above the Weather. Hidden by the genre veil of the road movie, Romanian visual artists Alina Popa and Irina Gheorghe perform as two coquettish socialites on their way back home. Framed in their turn of the century convertible, their preening conversation stands in oblivious contrast to the surrounding desolate industrial landscape of Romania’s oil-fields and the radio announcements forecasting an impending environmental apocalypse. Captive to the pathetic fallacy of 1950s Hollywood melodramas, Above the Weather is an incisive commentary on our catastrophic dependency on fossil fuels, beckoning us to ‘keep calm and carry on’ gently into the good night, to the telling tune of Eurovision’s parochialism. Showcased at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest and Manhattan Gallery, New York.

Like the flicker of silent films or the delay of memory recall, Paul Wenninger’s Uncanny Valley (winner of Best Austrian Animation & Audience Award at One Day Animation Festival) unravels its story of wartime trauma through the camaraderie of two lone soldiers fighting their way out of the trenches of World War I. Employing the aesthetic mechanics found in stop-motion animation, Wenninger’s real-life protagonists move as marionettes in a theatre of war that flashes at every interval with the fear and danger. Impelled by survival instincts and a balletic camerawork that transverses time and space in awe-inspiring long-takes, the two soldiers emerge out of the ruins of war, shell-shocked and spiritually defeated. Atmospheric and compelling, Uncanny Valley offers a potent statement on the inevitable abstraction of history, erasing individual experience in favor of posterity’s superficial representation. Screened with the kind support of BIEFF’s longtime partners SIXPACKFILMS and the Austrian Cultural Forum in Romania. Presented  within prestigious events such as Annecy International Animation Festival and Uppsala International Short Film Festival.

Using the simplest of cinematic tools, director Tom Rosenberg’s Nothing Human (world premiered at Locarno International Film Festival) opens our eyes to the abstract irrationality of violence and the paradox at the heart of what makes us human. For more than 25 years, Louis Akin has retraced Death’s footsteps, separating and re-arranging with detached objectivism the sequential facts of some of the most violent crimes in the USA. Working as a defense forensic investigator, his role in the 2009 mass shooting at a US military base took three years to reconstruct the crime scene, which the director maps out for us in a spacious warehouse. Within this minimal mise-en-scene, Akin literally walks us through the events of that tragic day, leaving it up to the viewer to mentally reconstruct the carnage mapped out in words and diagrams. As the information accumulates, the mind tries to make sense of it all, but the incomprehensibility of mankind’s constant propensity to violence is too much to bear.

Setting its parameters from the first words spoken, Zia Anger’s I Remember Nothing (world premiered at Locarno International Film Festival) exists precariously on the edge of chaos and poetry, structured around the five stages of epilepsy while looking at a day in the life of teenager Joan. Stuck in the tedium of small-town America and the humdrum of high-school, she is the poster-girl of teenage angst, a budding life-force arrested in development. Her only escape appears at a baseball game, as a source of curiosity and excitement offered by her blossoming puberty. Zia Anger purposefully induces a sense of disorientation and peril through casting choices and flourishes of magical realism, framing Joan’s sexual exploration against epilepsy’s impending assault. By the end, we’re left dazed, confused but fully submissive to the powerful impact of love and its menacing consequences.

The 6th edition of Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival BIEFF takes place during March 14th – 20th, 2016.

The Romania Journal is among the media partners of the festival.

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