Considering 300-plus films were shown, the following nine I saw barely made a dent, still…. A few oddly matched films ending on an even odder note were shown during International Kurz(Short)FilmFestival’s (IKFF) opening ceremonies. Kicking-off was: Mamma Vet Bäst(Mama Knows Best) by Mikael Bundsen, Sweden | 2016, 12:40 minutes | Swedish/English subtitles, fiction: It’s been a great evening. After dropping off his boyfriend, it’s nice talking with his understanding mom. Until her nervous monologue makes him wonder. Dad already knows and, publicly? So what if he’s gay. Duplicity in parenting, and the importance of honest, open communication is humorously, and thoughtfully handled. Production values are solid. • Internationaler Wettbewerb 6 / International Competition 6 · Expectation of Loss, and Mo&Friese selection.
Then, The Art of Flying by Jan van IJken, Netherlands | 2015, 6:52 minutes | no dialogue, documentary: A natural, puzzling phenomenon is the flight of thousands of starlings. They create a show of fluctuating patterns, never colliding, while singing to one another against a dusky sky. Hypnotic, rhythmic, inexplicable for mere mortals. • NoBudget Wettbewerb 4 · Art Attacks!, and Mo&Friese selection.
personne, by Matthias Müller, Christoph Girardet, Germany | 2016, 14:58 minutes | no dialogue, experimental: I confess. I haven’t a clue what the filmmakers were on about. Compilation filmmakers I know utilize snippets to tell stories. For example, San Franciscan Craig Baldwin’s sci-fi feature, Specters of the Spectrum, opened a local film festival in 2000. Then again, the guys do deserve credit for passionate combing through umpteen films locating found images for their forgettable film. • Internationaler Wettbewerb 1 · Personal Imprints, and Mo&Friese selection.
Rounding out the evening were: Herbst (Autumn) by Meinhard Rauchensteiner, Austria | 2015, 3:00 minutes | German/English subtitles, experimental: The gist is a plush animal is learning to talk. Funny? Na. Effective? Na. Why was it shown? No idea.
And, Trabbel Shot by Dorit Kiesewetter, Carsten Knoop, Germany | 2016, 0:55 minutes | no dialogue, documentary: Off to a promising start, the directors should have used some of the extra time to make a (cohesive) point. • Flotter Dreier Wettbewerb – Thema: Abschalten / Three-Minute Quickie – Subject: Switch-Off! both selections.
The festival trailer shown prior to Internationaler Wettbewerb 3 / International Competition 3 · Floating Natures was based on a distinctive, perceptive story from Werner Herzog about watching whales in the Elbe (river) from Landungsbruecken (bridge). Beautifully, whimsically illustrated by Dustin Grellas, the New York based animator manning the hotline. I’m sorry to only see it on one occasion.
Floating Natures was distinctive as it contained four longer selections, commencing with a ubiquitous tale. Two teens trespass onto deserted grounds breaking-in, vandalizing, stealing, and violating any unfortunate they encounter. What’s interesting is the location, an overgrown tropical spa ruins, and the acting’s not bad. • El Edén (Eden) by Andrés Ramírez, Spain, Colombia | 2016, 19'28 minutes | Spanish/English subtitles, fiction.
Asian filmmakers have a penchant for illusive hidden meanings, and allusions. A group in a seemingly café/sleeping locale wail their woes soliciting sympathy. Eventually, more or less partnering, they end up on a mostly rock island. Crying, dancing: apparently, each one’s space is her/his “city”. Nevermind they look mostly bored and godforsaken. A cryptic, tic-too-long film. • Another City by Pham Ngoc Lan, Vietnam | 2015, 24'51 minutes | Vietnamese/English subtitles, fiction.
Images and a subjective POV (point-of-view) lead us on a visual commentary about contemporary society’s obsessions. Once throbbing with life for young and old alike is Casablanca’s Parc De Jeux Yasmina (Yasmina Amusement Park). Moseying through, the camera encapsulates its fall from grace; concurrently, teens as statues (remember that game) take the mickey out of selfies, social media, i.e. dictators of life. Imaginative, clever; some sound issues. Le Park (The Park) by Randa Maroufi, France | 2015, 14'00 minutes | Arabic/English subtitles, experimental.
The once-pioneering pinhole camera documents, ironically, the upshot of technical development. Just as train travel can be nostalgic, compelling, enlightening. Director Reverdy discovered the longest train in the world carries iron ore, and life. Tracks skirt the Sahara linking Zouerate, the mining center to reach Mauritania’s Atlantic Ocean ports; eventually, the wealthy West. Oftentimes passengers travel sitting atop ore cars. Edifying, rhythmically fascinating: notable sound design replaces dialogue. Matière Première (Raw Material) by Jean-François Reverdy, France | 2015, 26'02 minutes | no dialogue, documentary.
When a friend recently said she’d never seen a Turkish made/produced film, I was dumbfounded. Then the penny dropped; point being, film festivals are like magic carpets carrying audiences to otherwise unknown territories. In Hamburg, we’re fortunate to have a plethora of festivals to choose from. If you haven’t yet, dip your senses into the cinematic richness at our doorstep. An auspicious start is IKFF.