62nd International Short Film Festival Oberhausen
Germany, May 5 - May 10 2016
In its 62nd edition, the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen has again impressively demonstrated a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, following a long-established festival tradition, it is still a highly political event. This became evident in the festival’s program El Pueblo, an extensive journey through political issues as represented in contemporary Latin American films. El Pueblo featured 48 films from eleven countries, with Brazil, Mexico and Argentina leading the tally.
On the other hand, Oberhausen has decidedly established itself as an art film festival with a strong interest in non-narrative and experimental forms. Video art, which has been included in the festival since the early 1990s, has become a major cultural influence, especially since the boundary between video and film is now so porous.
Considering this focus on art cinema and aesthetic innovation, it was no surprise that there was an entire section of festival discussions, Podium, dedicated to “current issues in the field of film and art.” Another section, Profiles, showed the works of artists Josef Dabernig (Austria), Sun Xun (China), Raquel Chalfi (Israel), Jeanne Faust (Germany) and Anne Haugsgjerd (Norway). In addition, a new section called Positions addressed the “critical discourse on how artists’ films are collected and exhibited”; its aim is to present museums, galleries and collectors who work with film and video.
The International Competition, still the festival’s main section, comprised 64 films from 32 countries. The US and UK had the highest representation, with seven films each, followed by Japan with four films. It should also be noted that more than half of the International Competition entries were directed by women. Overall, Oberhausen screened a considerable number of films from female artists.
From the International Competition, the FIPRESCI jury awarded the British-produced essay film If It Was by French artist Laure Prouvost. We praised its spectacular elevation of a popular internet meme to poetic dimensions on the big screen, resulting in a “profound essayistic reflection on the freedom of art.” Born in 1978, Provost is a respected video and multimedia artist who received the prestigious Turner Prize in 2013. She is a notable artist of our time. (Peter Kremski, edited by Lesley Chow).
International Short Film Festival Oberhausen: www.kurzfilmtage.de