Films that focus on the versatility of people
Thé central program at Go Short is the European Competition, an overview of the best films that our continent has produced in the past year. Difficult choices had to be made in order to arrive at a selection of 45 films from the more than 2000 submissions, whereby – in addition to quality – a good balance was the central principle. We were therefore very happy to see films that focus on personal or social issues, as well as films that look at those same people and society with an optimistic look. The balance and diversity manifest itself not only in the subjects of the films but also in the makers – Go Short guarantees that at least 50% of the films are directed by a woman.
In the European competition, in addition to the Go Short candidate for the European Film Awards, we will award three prizes (which will also be rewarded with an Oscar Qualifier). Here we zoom in on our three price categories: documentary, animation, and fiction.
Every year there are recurring themes within the festival entries. The short playing time makes it relatively easy to reflect on current issues, so we have seen many films in recent years about the refugee crisis and the raised borders between people, gender inequality, the re-evaluation of colonialism and other past crimes and of course the climate crisis.
These themes were also well represented this year. For example, we zoom in on boundaries in three very moving films: ‘To The Living’ (Pauline Fonsnoy, 2019), ‘3 Logical Exits’ (Mahdi Fleiffel, 2020), and the hybrid fiction film ‘At The Entrance of the Night’ (Anton Bialas, 2019). An important theme that deserves our attention.
Yet, somewhere in the back of our minds, we always heard the autotune from ‘A Film’ (Mårten Nilsson, 2019) sing: “It was beautiful, but it didn’t help.” This is true in many cases, but we also like to prove the opposite on Go Short! For example, we were very happy with the level of activism in many of the films. ‘To The Living’ was made in the context of an action group that puts pressure on inhumane conditions in a border prison, and ‘How To Disappear’ (Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner, and Michael Stumpf, 2020) was made by a collective of game activists who ask questions about violent and political narrative in video games. In “Apiyemiyekî?” (2019), director Ana Vaz gives attention in a very delicate and respectful way to a long-hidden genocide of an indigenous people in Brazil. It also shows us how important scientific research into this genocide has been for a lawsuit against this mass murder.
Still: ‘Apiyemiyekî?’ (Ana Vaz, 2019)
In the Animation category, everyone was immediately blown over by ‘Genius Loci’ (Adrien Merigeau, 2019). And we were not the only ones: the film recently won the Golden Bear for best short film at the prestigious Berlinale! ‘Genius Loci’ depicts nuanced emotions that are sometimes difficult to put into words with beautiful animations reminiscent of modern art. And that is a good example of what short film can do: to give a place in the world around us what is difficult to grasp.
Within the very diverse and colorful selection of animation films, it is striking that two very good films were made this year with snails in the lead. The films are very different though: ‘Slug Life,’ (2019) is a strange, sexy and funny film by Sophie Koko Gate, which shows how a woman creates her ideal bed partner in the form of a boneless snail. ‘Why Slugs Have No Legs’ (Aline Höchli, 2019), on the other hand, tells the history of how snails lost their legs, and thereby outlines a parallel with our society.
From stop-motion to hand-drawn to computer animation, and even scratched and painted at 35 millimeters: everything comes by in this varied competition.
Still: ‘Genius Loci’ (Adrien Merigeau, 2019)
Of all the films submitted, by far the largest share is fiction. As is often the case, many films from France and Portugal are among the strongest entries, and hard choices have to be made there. Among the Portuguese submissions, “The Bite” (Pedro Neves Marques, 2019) immediately stood out. This film mixes different facets and genres, combining a scientific perspective, a queer love story, unrest in society, a touch of docu and a futuristic atmosphere into a genre-transcendent whole. A fiction film as you don’t see them often.
Among the French entries, ‘Akaboum’ (2019) was a favorite. In this film by Manon Vila, we see a group of young people with different backgrounds in a suburb of Paris. The young people do not seem in their place. But, instead of giving one-sided social criticism, this film manages to deliver a beautiful portrait of a young generation. We see young people who are funny, intelligent and full of good energy. Typically a film where – just like all fiction – our motto ‘We Are Not A Single Story’ fits in flawlessly. No stereotypes, but a nuanced picture of the people around us.
Still: ‘Akaboum’ (Manon Vila, 2019)