Aesthetics of Resistance

in 11th Seville European Film Festival

by Senem Aytac

One of the youngest sections of SEFF, ‘Resistances’, aims to stimulate and support young, independent and experimental film production in Spain, especially at a time of economic crisis. The selection featured 11 films this year, providing a glimpse of the independent film scene outside of the borders and the rigid limits of the industry. Overall, the section has a transversal quality blending fiction and non-fiction, conventional narratives, experimental film, video art, professional productions and amateur ventures.

There is definitely something stimulating in watching experimental films in a theatre – especially a selection of such young films – it makes you become aware of the conventions of the medium and gives you a chance to think through what’s taken for granted. The selection does not necessarily spotlight high-quality films, and sometimes you even encounter works that could very well be seen as works in progress. Yet there is always an idea scattered here and there, an intriguing experimentation, or a triggering story to follow.

One of the stunning works in the selection was ”Cábala Caníba” by Daniel V. Villamediana. The film uses split screen, which enables the projection of two simultaneous images in relation to each other. Derived from Kabala, the film’s text and form gradually transforms this esoteric signification system into a labyrinth, or an abyss of signification. The director invites us to journey through a system of signs that contains a history of self, a history of community and a history of cinema, thus offering the audience the possibility of finding and losing its meaning over and over again through a transcendental journey. ”Cábala Caníbal” deserves praise as an utterly refined, complex and well-crafted work.

”Here and In Other Time” (Equí y n’otru tiempu) by Ramón Lluís Bande, which won the FIPRESCI Award, was the most complete film in the selection. Bande’s film consisted of three parts: an introduction of the Asturian guerrilla group that were killed in the mountains, told through black and white photography; a long section that acts as a monument for each guerrilla killed in the mountains; and an elegy in the final part. As the director himself stated, the film transforms document to monument and uses the silver screen as a memorial. The film masterfully marks nature with the death of guerrillas without the use of any other device, subtly and impressively conveying ‘minutes of silence’ in honour of the guerrillas.

Another interesting example in the selection was ”Las Más Macabras De Las Vidas” by Kikol Grau, a video collage of images of a punk group from Bilboa named Eskorbuto. The trash aesthetics and the chaotic, exhaustive ‘youtube collage’ perfectly fit the purpose of the film, which ends in punk due to its rawness.

Several films in the section stood out with their stories: ”3 Minutes, If You Fight There’s No Defeat” (3 Minutos, Si Luchas No Hay Derrota) by Álvaro Torrellas Hurtado, ”Lunático” by Edu Solà and ”África 815” by Pilar Monsell. They all featured intriguing and enthusing characters and stories, but needed elaboration. Yet, one could say the opposite of ”Sueñan Los Androides” (Androiden Traümen) by Ion de Sosa. The film is beautifully framed and with matched atmosphere but lacks a plot, or even a line of thought or emotion that the viewer can hold onto.

Gathering an enthusing selection of local independent films every year is not an easy task for a festival and whether ‘Resistances’ will improve as a section in providing a valuable platform for young and experimental cinema in Spain remains unanswered, but it is indeed a crucial one to demand.

Edited by Tara Judah