Short films / Short reviews: IFFR edition

We are bringing you short reviews of the films shown at the 50TH International Film Festival Rotterdam

80000 ans (Christelle Lheureux, France, 2021) ★★

"80000 ans" is ambitious in a way that an archaeologist's ordinary life is described by the avant-garde split screen as the intersection of her reality and her vision in mind. Nevertheless, although this film is driven at first by intellectual curiosity in an interesting way, even if a bit pedantic, "80000 ans" decline miserably to a delusion of heteronormative romance. Very Frenchy in a scandalizing way.


Er is een geest van mij (Mateo Vega, Netherlands & Peru, 2021) ★★★★

In this sinister world, the director of "Er is een geest van mij" tries to weave poetry to dive into his origin; The Netherlands / Peru, Dutch language / Spanish language. To recite poetry in both languages is personal and politic, which resonates with me writing a story in Japanese and Romanian language. And, although it wields an ambiguous emotion called "ghost", it has anatomical gaze penetrating audiences' skin and meet at the same time. Poetry like a frigid yet vehement pyre. Sunsets, Everyday (Basir Mahmood, Italy, 2021) ★ Annoyingly monotone reverberation and extremely materialistic shots which abandons cinematic organism, these elements in "Sunsets, every day" doesn't fit into each other miserably. Probably, this director can talk about this film's concept, but could he represent it as a film? Completely not. The director is excessively dependent on audiences for the film's interpretation. The laziest filmmaking which I hate the most.


Manifest (Ane Hjort Guttu, Norway, 2021) ★

"Manifest" is a fiction (I completely mistook that its documentary, which means that it's such kind of film) about the reality of an art school in Norway, but aseptic modernism of its building's interior overlaps observational style of cinematography in a not good way, causing artists' words to be completely unconvincing and inexistent. This absolute fiasco is overwhelmingly superficial.


Flowers Blooming in Our Throats (Eva Giolo, Italy, 2021) ★★★★★

Daily life under the lockdown because of Coronavirus is its central theme of "Flowers Blooming in Our Throats", about which is extremely interesting that this film is constructed by concatenation of considerable amounts of hands. Hands, their fingers, skins and bloodlines on them are different from each other. And the landscapes of hands represents two contradictional atmospheres; ominousness of our current life distorted by Coronavirus, and powerful volition to survive this suffocating life. Extraordinary lifelike human energy itself.


Lemongrass Girl (Pom Bunsermvicha, Thai, 2021) ★

"If virgin plants a lemongrass upside-down, the rain will stop" One ridiculous, anachronistic superstition in Thailand makes a girl's life messy in "Lemongrass Girl", which unfortunately expands as arid defection whose boredom the director tries to erase with beautiful yet desolate landscapes, but he can't. The most gigantic surprise is that the film's screenwriter is Anocha Suwichakornpong, an extraordinary auteur from Thailand, but again the director can't capture its quintessence abominably. Impotent as hell.


Happy Valley (Simon Liu, Hong-Kong, 2020) ★★★★☆

The garbage of umbrellas on the road, infinite darkness in the tunnel, a bird which rampages on a boy's hand. In "Happy Valley", memories about Hong-Kong under Britain, which sleeps in the bottom of people's spirit, floats liberatingly, transforming into melancholic poetry with profound warmth. Simon Liu, a poet of verocity in the experimental cinema world, shows us beautiful, extremely unique dextrously, running to glaring stardom. Intoxicating as always.


Surviving You Always (Morgan Quaintance, UK, 2020) ★★★★

A scientist's words read in inexpressive voice, confession of a boy addicted to LSD which is represented as pale subtitles. These two elements are mixed on mysterious monochrome photos and this menacing amalgamation reveals the reality of psychedelic experiment as if to drown in vomit on road. Watching this film, words like "Loneliness is my prison" creeps on audiences' brain. Cinematic experience at its most terrifying level.


Tracing Utopia (Nick Tyson & Catarina de Sousa, USA & Portugal, 2021) ★★★

Genderqueer youngsters talk about gender segregation, personal pronoun and prejudice for trans people in "Trancing Utopia", whose words are so frank and sincere that I think that bright future exists in this youth ness. But, its direction, using Sci-Fi design and Minecraft frequently, is extremely frivolous, even if it is needed to represent youngsters' world. I wish that directors should have treated their sincere words more sincerely, and deliberately.


For the Sake of Calmness (Newsha Tavakolian, Iran, 2020) ★★★★

Extremely annoying sound which always creeps on audiences' eardrum, an unendurable vision which tries to cover their retinas with sinister shadow. What its director depicts using these elements is the spirit of women in brutal turbulence of PMS. Her attempt to describe convulsion of PMS as cinematic poetry beyond words is highly ambitious, consolidated by one woman's emotion "I hate all"


Letter from Your Far-Off Country (Suneil Sanzgiri, USA, 2021) ★★★★☆

"Letter from Your Far-Off Country" depicts the history of intense violence and trauma in Pakistan through poetry at which dazzlingly intersect Google Map, news on TV and video footages. In this amalgamation of Pakistan's history, audiences may witness that its director dives into Pakistani people's wound deeply and deeply without any hesitation but with heartbreaking desperation. Vehemence still without end which makes me speechless.


Maat Means Land (Fox Maxy, USA, 2020) ★

"Maat Means Land" is visual poetry which depicts young Native Americans' experience and resistance in a current difficult situation so purely, rawly that the film's editing is frivolous itself as if Terence Marrick's works became more incoherent and indiscreet. This is just boring concatenation of videoclips without any imagination and definitive or attractive rhythm. Terranova (Alejandro Pérez Serrano & Alejandro Alonso Estrella, Cuba, 2021) ★ Although trying to capture drastic transfiguration of a city with "Terranova", directors, probably unsatisfied with their art, add to the film along, dull paraphrase from authoritative artist's works (Here, Marcel Duchamp), which represents how unambitious and flattering they are as artists. I always belch when I watch such a negligent brag of wisdom. Shame at its peak.


Luces del desierto (Félix Blume, Mexico, 2021) ★★★★

Following mysterious, iridescent lights which glare somewhere in Mexico, "Luces del desierto" describes daily life rooted in this ground vivaciously, adorably and refreshingly. And through frequent, menacing flickers, what appears in this film are darkness' exquisite infinity and beauty, with multilayered tranquillity which takes my breath.


Erde Essen (Laura Weissenberger, Austria, 2021) ★★★★

The director, living in Austria now, tries to be immersed deeply into Colombia, her origin, and Colombian women's life with "Erde Essen", a beautiful essay film in which simply but intimately woven are attractive words and images, representing irreplaceable affection in the director's spirit. Visionary poetry whose refreshing warmth gives audiences a tender smile.


The Women's Revenge (Su Hui-Yu, Taiwan, 2021) ★★

"The Women's Revenge" is a homage to "Taiwanese Black Film", a film's genre popular in the 1980's because of its political, violent tendency. Although this reconstitution as homage is interesting at first, excessive utilization of slow-motion tries to send n important message about gender inequality but actually can't because of its excessiveness. which is infuriatingly impertinent and unendurable to me. Just an action, no content.


Who is Afraid of Ideology? Part 3 Micro Resistances (Marwa Arsanios, Germany, 2020) ★☆

Although this film's theme is important that a woman struggles to protect the environment in Colombia by nurture many seeds, it is meaningless if the film itself expands aridly and uninterestingly. Compared with other experimental films at Ammond Tiger Short Competition, this film is too dependent on its theme, ignoring how it is showed cinematically.