Discovering our own shadow... By Alexandre Tylski

in 45th Cracow International Short Film Festival

by Alexandre Tylski

An international film festival is no doubt the very place where you can really feel and discover what is going on in our world today. The Crakow film festival has succeeded in bringing many important artistic and political revelations to the Polish and International audience. The most compelling films this year have been the film genres of this resistance, in the documentaries and animated films.

The international competition of this 45th festival has given us strong points of view on the human conditions in the Russian countryside: Life In Peace (Mirnaja Zhizn), Sultan From Odrynki (Sulltan iz Odrynok), Once Upon A Time There Lived One Old Man And One Old Woman (Zhili-Bili starik so starukhoi); in Bulgaria: Dancing Bear Park (Park za tanzuvashti mechki), Georgy And The Butterflies (Georgi i peperudite); or in Iran: Iranian Conserve (Konserve Irani), A Brief Peace (Shahre Khamooshan), Prostitution Behind The Veil (Prostitution bag sloret), and The Other Side Of Burka. Thanks to the following films, we have witnessed some striking images: The Man Without A Shadow (L’homme sans ombre), The Cawl (Krooli), Dust (Toz); and some unforgettable testimonies in Prostitution Behind The Veil, The Fourth Wife (Den fjerde kona), and A Woman Alone (La femme seule) that we might never experience else where, not on television nor even in the art houses.

Almost all the film makers in competition this year have showed very personal insights on Europe, questioning the past but, above all, the present (Germans and their Nazi past), the Thai immigration in Germany, Life This Way (Richtung leben), the African immigration in France, A Woman Alone, the German behavior with African people, The Fourth Wife, the stupid fear (destruction) of the other: Guard Dog, The Final Solution; the lack of money: Dancing Bear Park, Charlotte, The Other Side Of Burka, The Fourth Wife; leading paradoxically people to consumerism: Life This Way, Charlotte, and Czech Dream (Cesky Sen).

Finally, if you think of this movie selection, you can actually link the human and political problems in Iran or Africa to European matters. That may even be the most interesting thing about this Cracow international competition. What kind of comparison and secret links can we indeed find between all these different films, countries and movie makers ? Between the North and the South, the West to the East ? Perhaps, among them, we can notice in particular the excesses of traditional rites and the lack of human rights today in almost every country.

Who then is exactly today the ‘other’; the father: Kata Practice, Man seeking Man (Mies etsii miesta), lead role: father); the mother: A Great Mystery (Magnum Misteria), The Other Side Of Burka, Snail Fortress (Csigavar); the dead (A Brief Peace, Ceremonia, Playing Dead) and the dust (Dust); and our own private shadow (The Man Without A Shadow)? And how can movie makers from Europe and elsewhere continue to reveal the world as it is (and as it is not) and still make us react, think, laugh and cry?

The answers may be found, partly, in serious international film festivals such as the 45th Cracow film festival but, most important of all, maybe in our individual and collective will to observe and listen. Questioning. Discovering. Living.