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A Bagatelle of Programs, Presenters, and Pathfinders
by Marinell Haegelin

The thing about short films is, if you don’t like one you know it won’t last that long. Most of the 2014 IKFF programs I screened contained a gem or three, yet one sent me fleeing for fresh air. The presenters came prepared, were affable, and consistently checked whether audiences understood English, which no one objected to. Filmmakers at hand amicably answered any questions. Curiously, some films I remember well, but others I’ve totally forgotten after a mere couple weeks!

Most surprising was London based writer/curator Anna Gritz’s, program: GALERIEL vor K – Zeitwidrige Korrespondenz; GALLERY – L before K – Anachronistic Correspondence. An Associate Curator for Film, Performance and Talks at the South London Gallery, maybe that’s the problem – Anna doesn’t know the difference between the three mediums. Of eleven, Experimental-labeled films shown, most smacked of video performances suitable for gallery or museum installations. The cinema was almost full for the one-and-only, 17:30 screening; it started brilliantly, and then nose-dived. In DER SPIEGEL (THE MIRROR) – 2007 | 4:55 minutes | English/German, Keren Cytter combines naked people in matching surroundings. Touting Shakespearian dialogue with overriding moral and corrosive issues, one woman meets reality head-on; mirrors don’t lie. Of the next four shorts, I remember very little other than they were well executed. Then NOT A JEALOUS BONE, followed by two more ho-hummers, and one so bland reading the catalogue description now I can’t remember it. Frances Stark’s 14:53-minute NOTHING IS ENOUGH triggered a mass audience exit. By the time Manon de Boer’s ATTICA finished, the theatre was almost empty. I’d certainly think twice about inviting Gritz to curate another program.

Of the gems and unusual films I saw, I’m limiting myself to mentioning only eight. Plus, a couple worthy of a comment; all films were in Competition.

THE FANTASTIC FIVE – alphabetically:
1. BIRDS by Ulu Braun. Germany 2014 | 15:00 minutes | No dialogue | Documentary. Ulu culled this footage from 30-40 hours of a longer project he’s working on. Who would guess—vultures, owls, hawks, etc., share public space with people? Juxtaposing society and exotic birds, we see how their adaptability, processing, and feel for space is very different than humans. Good sound design; could have been a tic shorter. I connected: In my Hamburg neighborhood, we’ve seen two hawk varieties, a buzzard, woodpecker, tree-creeper, and most recently a European flycatcher.

2. IS IT REAL LOVE? OF COURSE NOT! by Florian Hofnar Krepcik. Netherlands 2014 | 23:02 minutes | No dialogue | Experimental. A self-described film composer, Krepcik’s inspirations include opera, music, film, and theatre. This innovative pathfinder creates by layering visual—B/W, color—sounds, and music that focus on form, and experience. Supposedly like a video game, each level stand out against the next—also in eras. A fantasy ride with ecological overtones.

3. NOT A JEALOUS BONE by Cecilia Condit. USA 1987 | 10:24 minutes | English | Experimental.
The (eighty-two-year-old) woman playing the eighty-two-year-old lead character makes this film memorable. She struggles with mortality—symbolized by a bone—and tussles with a younger, beautiful woman. Her mother and her daughter are thrown into the octogenarian’s mix of dark fantasies and conflicts. A fearless look at humans’ bone-deep will to live. Good fusion of techniques, sound design, and music.

4. REQUIEM FOR A ROBOT by Christoph Rainer. Germany/Austria/USA 2013 | 5:30 minutes | English | Fiction. A robot with a depleted memory symbolizes modern society in this innocent satire. Lamenting about his drinking, womanizing, and even stealing money, Rob asks, “what did I do wrong.” Good productions values and music cap off this pathfinder’s strong, clever story.

5. SUN SONG by Joel Wanek. USA 2013 | 15:00 minutes | No dialogue | Experimental. Another film, like BIRDS that reminds people to pay more attention to their surroundings. This vérité celebration to light, movement, and simplistic routine is encapsulated in a bus traveling though North Carolina, USA from night’s waning into dawn to midday’s movement. Justifiably, this pathfinder’s film won the Hamburg Short Film Award, Jury Award of the International Competition, 3000 euros.

SORCIÈRE JAPONAISE – JAPANESE MOJO by Romeo Grünfelder. Germany 2013 | 4:17 minutes | No dialogue | Experimental. A camera follows people through a night landscape. We’re supposed to be curious? Why, when it’s impossible to distinguish what’s going on. Grünfelder might consider going back to carpentry, and IKFF to testing digital copies on the silver screen before selecting.

arte-SHORTFILM AWARD: ARTE purchases the film – paying up to 6.000 euros, then broadcasts it in its short film program. Matthias Müller and Christoph Giradet made off like bandits with a gross, found-footage film: CUT, Germany 2013, 12:53 minutes, Experimental. The jury of two, Sabine Brantus and Barbara Häbe, should checkout one of Californian Craig Baldwin’s (features) to appreciate the medium.

I don’t understand why Sam Easterton’s BURROW-CAMS—did he add opening/end credits—was repeated in this years MO&FRIESE Opening program, unless they were fraught to fill a spot. Video artist Rainer Kohlberger admitted during the Q&A afterward that HUMMING, FAST AND SLOW, Austria/Germany 2013 | 9:00 minutes | Animation, was an installation piece. Originally shown on three big panels in a huge area, the visual reductionism he applied to fit it onto a movie screen made for a boring film. Some of the shorts were part of a series, i.e. didn’t communicate well on their own, and quite a few were commissioned pieces. Still, lets end with a black humor short film too delicious not to mention.

FAIR GAME by the art collective NEOZOON: Germany 2014 | 6:30 minutes | No dialogue | Experimental. Wearing latex masks, Tyrolean hats and dressed appropriately for the Black Forest backdrop, two hunters go urban hunting accompanied by their trusty dogs and guns. With the cityscape beyond, they greedily cut up and devour their kill: frozen, vacuum-packed meats. This film lampoons mans disassociation with nature, and customs. Comically, concisely.