Family Drama and Water – Recurring Themes

in 25th Short Film Festival in Drama

by Louise Dumas

In an era when feature films are getting longer and longer (do you remember the last time you saw a film shorter than 2 hours in the cinema?), it is particularly welcome to immerse yourself in the aesthetics of short films. This is one of the many reasons why the Short Film Festival in Drama is so interesting – and is destined to become more and more so, as new media and online film platforms will undoubtedly give pride of place to the short format. With a national and an international competition, the Drama Festival allows the visitor to discover the pool of young Greek talent and to enjoy a panorama of the global short film art.

Confession (Eξομολόγηση) from young Cypriot director Andreas Sheittanis was presented both in the national and international competition. A wanted guerilla fighter dresses up as a priest when English soldiers enter the monastery he is hiding in. The beautiful photography illuminates the destitution of the monastery in the pale glow of oil lamps. The shot-reverse-shot is very effective for staging the confrontation between the British officer and the monk in disguise. This is a rich scenario idea to make Greek and English coexist in this film which, before being political, is a reflection on language, whether spoken or cinematographic.

The international competition consisted of 67 films from 60 different countries. Two outstanding themes emerged. On the one hand we saw many intimate stories and family dramas dealing with parent-child relationships (including Meryam Joobeur’s Brotherhood, which received the Grand Prix and the FIPRESCI Award). On the other hand, many films, although of extremely different genres, focused on water, whether it was ocean pollution or the depletion of drinking water resources. In this last respect, I would like to mention in particular The Fisherman (El Pescador, Ignacio Garcia), an original fable with noteworthy production qualities on the ecological consequences of corruption in Peru.

As for family dramas, A Celebration (Masha Razavi, Canada) was one of my favourites. It depicts with great sensitivity the relationship between 8-year-old Ada and her mother, newly immigrated to Toronto. The script is an accurate account of what integration and motherland mean. Elena (Jesus Reyes, Columbia) was also a kind of family and political drama, in which Elena (fantastic non-professional actress Benilda Llorente) helps a paramilitary soldier, although he confesses that his unit recently killed her son. The silent relationship between the elderly woman, with her rough and generous appearance, and the young boy, constitute the strength of this fable. Weightlifter (Shtangist, Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk, Ukraine and Poland) can also fall into the category of intimate and family drama, fused with the genre of the sport-film. As he prepares for an important championship, a weightlifter learns of the death of his father with whom he had a conflictual relationship. The film, beautifully shot in outdated training rooms, depicts the inner conflicts of a man whose muscles are more a shell than anything else.

Then Comes the Evening (A sad se spusta vece, Maja Novakovic, Serbia / Bosnia and Herzegovina) was the only documentary in the international competition. This gorgeous but austere film captures the daily life of two old peasant women living isolated in the hills of Eastern Bosnia. Taciturn, they carry out their daily tasks and rituals, most often without speaking to each other. The days follow one another and are similar for centuries. Consequently, the beautiful cinematography of Jasna Prolic recalls many moments in the history of painting, from classical still life to romantic landscapes and Caravaggesque interior scenes. It takes a certain audacity and a real talent to take your time in a short film. This was essential to capturing the eternity of perpetual restarts and the nostalgia of a world that is silently and inconspicuously disappearing.

Louise Dumas
Edited by Yael Shuv