Locarno film festival short films reviews (part 2)

We are bringing you short reviews of the movies shown at the Locarno Film Festival 2020

The Chicken (2020, America, Neo Sora) ★★★★

Dir. Neo Sora tries to make a film from a short story of Naoya Shiga, one of the very best Japanese novelists, with 16mm set in not Japan but New York, whose whimsical ambition, mixed with anachronism and modernity, attracts me deeply in "The Chicken", in which there is a question about ethics appeared in the intimate atmosphere of film grains, and complex flow of blood and body liquid.


Where to Land (2020, Finland, Sawandi Groskind) ★★

"Where to Land" features a black man and a mute woman who roam around in the forest, with arcaneness for arcaneness and whimsicality for whimsicality, whose self-indulgence is stupidly ambiguous, reinforced by its cinematography too much dependent on the texture of film grains which can't capture the landscapes of nature in Finland very well, finally winding up a half-baked, prosaic fantasy.


Fish Bowl (2020, Rwanda, Ngabo Emmanuel) ★★★★

Albeit its banal plot, that an artist goes through his beloved mother's death and ambiguous love, "Fish Bowl" describes this process his delicate heart copes within thoroughly intimate simplicity and graceful sincerity which insinuates profound sadness and bitter-sweet pain in tranquility, stirring my heart up at the deep level and convincing me that it's no a masterpiece, but great delicacy itself.


Here, Here (2020, Philippine, Joanne Cesario) ★★

"Here Here" is a Philipino experimental film about a young man returning to his gradually reconstructed home village, although, albeit its diverse ambition for sheer experimentality of capturing the man's insecure psychology, this film degenerates to the internalized, ambiguous inconsistency sadly, but it is also promising in a way that there is a few lyrical film like this in Philippine, where the thorough realism dominates like a god incarnated as Lav Dias and Brillante Mendoza.


Kako sam pobedio lepak i bronzu (2020, Serbia, Vladimir Vulević) ★

As a typically banal docu-fiction which might be selected in FID Marseille IFF, "Kako sam pobedio lepak i bronzu" depicts a Serbian middle-aged man who lives a seemingly banal life, and such kind of film, misunderstanding "ambitious" as "belch-inducing" miserably, makes me quite irritated as if a ferocious tiger shouts out with anger, "There must be no film like docu-fiction in this earth".


1978 (2020, Pakistan, Hamza Bangash) ★★★★

In this powerful, stylistically cool film about a Christian rockstar who survives through Islamic fervor in the 70's Pakistan, dir. Bangash depicts the religious conflict in Pakistan and the universal bond between brothers in an impressive way, reinforced by the scorchingly hot last sequence of the rockstar's decision and the song on its end credit which makes its aftertaste so abundant and exuberant.


An Act of Affection (2020, Portugal, Viet Vu) ★★★★★

A silent night in Lisbon between a middle-aged gay man and a Vietnamese film director is sublimated into the pure intimacy in "An Act of Affection", in which the last sequence, the director caresses the head of the man in tranquility, is one of the kindest, most beautiful landscape I've ever watched in 2020, making my eyes full of warm tear which proves that this film has the love for filmmaking.

Aninsri daeng (2020, Thai, Ratchapoom Boonbunchachoke) ★★★★☆

There is a strange tradition of dubbing in Thai film under the Cold War ("The hero sounds heroic and the villain sounds villainous"), which revivifies as an exciting provocation in "Aninsri daeng", a hilarious espionage, bittersweetly romantic film having a refreshing theme about trans people's complex emotion for their own voice with which its protagonist searches for her love and dignity.


Ekti ekgheye film (2020, Bangladesh, Mahde Hasan) ★★★★

"A boring film", hm very interesting English title, and dir. Hasan transforms this starkly monochrome boredom into the preciousness and ominousness of the daily life which changed silently but drastically because of abominable Coronavirus, with the breathtaking intimacy of Chantal Akerman weaved by the delicate, audacious combination of image and sound in the daily life. P.S. Cats are so cute too!


Life on the Horn (2020, Somalia, Mo Harawe) ★★

The landscapes of "Life on the Horn", a rarely-seen Somali film about people who remain in their home village even if it is contaminated desolately by environmental destruction and deadly disasters, are stalky beautiful in the monochrome cinematography, but the ground's infinite aridness overlaps the film itself which gives the audiences boringly empty exhaustion and sigh-inducing voidness.


Memby (2020, Brazil, Rafael Castanheira Parrode) ★★★☆

"Memby", a Brazilian experimental short, floats between sinister daydream and comfortable nightmare, between extreme microcosmos and extreme macro cosmos, between the earth's vast nature and infinite galaxy in a way wild and elegant at the same time, like a complicatedly iridescent vision which runs through our brain, sublimated into the highly primitive, hypnotical cinematic experience.

Written by: Tettyo Saito