Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Visit to the 2010 Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF)

To help spread the word about the Journal of Short we visited the 34th Cleveland International Film Festival. While at the festival we attended part of the Independent Short Film Programming and created a few reviews of the films and over all programs.

Independent Short Program #1 Overview- Cross Cultural Displays of an Oppressive Human State.
Shorts Program 1 is a collection of independent films that span from animation to documentary, from news report spoof to action flick, and melodrama to romantic comedy. Even with this wide breadth of content these films all have a connecting theme of a society with an oppressive sense of humanity. These six films show us violent bank robbers who bless their endeavors before God, parents who would do anything to control their child’s life from administering drugs to solitary confinement, rape, and defragmentation of the human image. The only glimmer of hope offered by these films are escape to a park swing or a Japanese baseball team, help from a blue bird or a bunch of red balloons, and a release of these destructive ideals through art. Overall the end result of the show is an in-depth perspective of filmmakers working in several countries, through several cinematic styles, but finding common themes and values.

Independent Short Film Program #1 : Karaçelik’s Rapunzel Review
Director: Tolga Karaçelik
Run Time: 18 minutes
Country: TURKEY
Rapunzel is the 6th film directed by the Turkish filmmaker Tolga Kenan KARAÇELİK since 2004. The film takes a reflective look at silent cinema’s portrayal of a love story set in a modern landscape. Based on the Grim Brothers 1812 German fairy tale the film depicts a wandering male vagabond and a parentally confined female trying to communicate their feelings from two different worlds. The male vagabond sleeps in forgotten buildings and wanders the city releasing red balloons into the sky setting them free from the confinement of the city. The confined female spends her days locked under parental monitoring forced to endlessly work on her education. The attraction to a stray balloon initiates a fairytale of romance that leads to the Rapunzel prototype Ayse’s descent out of a window onto a bed of balloons and eventually into the arms of her vagabond savior.

Independent Short Film Program #1: Darling’s Polly and Me Review
Director: Ian Darling
Run Time: 25 minutes
Polly and Me
Australian Documentary Filmmaker Ian Darling’s fictional film Polly and Me takes a sometimes nightmarish look into the life of a young girl who gains a semblance of peace only after experiencing great strife. The story of this film shows a young girl acting out a fantasy mother-daughter relationship with her toy doll Polly while she is thwarted at every attempt to create a maternal connection with her down-and-out mother. The main driving force of the narrative is the young girl’s goal of going to the park with her mother. She spends her days looking out a window at other mothers and daughters playing on the swings while her mother shoots up or gets ready to find a male client to bring home. Eventually the film gives the viewers a glimmer of hope when the young girl begins counting the days to a picnic that promises the long awaited mother daughter outing. The young girl’s dream is not fulfilled and regrettably leads to her further isolation from a now deceased mother and a society that moves around her oblivious to her plight. Darling’s visibly noticeable documentary style, use of a distorting soft focus, and the acting skills of young Emma Palmer creates a film that is fictional in creation but documents the trial and tribulation of women and girls that live in a society that often ignores their dilemmas.

Independent Short Program #6 Overview : Utilization of Tragedy through both Comedy and Drama.

Shorts Program 6 includes nine films, eight from the USA and one from Singapore. The program in total uses tragedy as it’s main form of communication both in comedic and dramatic modes. From a child loosing his teeth as an act of revenge by the tooth fairy to a father killing his only son in a struggle for repentance, the films show us themes and values that are communicating the tragedy of life. Five of the films can be classified as comedies but to gain the laughter of the audience they use comedic techniques of story telling to create a conflicting message about death, relationship breakups, abuse, physical separation from the one you love and violent prejudice against homosexuals. In the other four films similar topics of death, injustice, physical violence and unraveling the human image are portrayed in dramatic modes which does not set the audience in conflict with the characters but invokes sympathy in an attempt to create understanding. The filmmakers in Short Program 6 have created films that take the viewers from sorrow to laugher and back again and as a combined force demonstrate the powerful ways in which tragedy can manipulate an audience.

Independent Short Film Program #6 : Suter’s Easy Made Hard the Film Review
Director: Delphine Suter
Run Time: 15 minutes
Country: USA
Easy Made Hard the Film
In Delphine Suter’s directorial debut, Easy Made Hard re-enacts a true life story of a troubled son and a father that wants his repentance. Painting a picture of life in the African American neighborhoods in L.A., Suter shows us a man who is loved by children and is known for his good nature by all in his community. This man who appears to have respect for all human kind before God, is asked to shelter or cast away his only son who has asked for help after a convenient store hold up that has turned deadly.

The power of this story lies in the portrayal of the son and father. Rhonnie Washington as the loving father shows us a time and place similar to that of the Garden of Eden in Genesis. The father tried so hard to protect everyone from the evil of sin but when, through free will, the son chooses to commit sin anyway, the father cannot offer compassion. Lloyd Roberson II as the son shows us the true human condition of how ignorance of true faith in something can lead us down a path filled with pit falls and never ending excuses. The father demands repentance and the son demands understanding which leads to a conflict that humans have faced since the beginning of time. What is right or wrong and ultimately who decides. Life can be so fleeting and this conflict like so many others eventually leads to a the father’s final judgment that cannot be revoked.

Keep an eye out for these films as well as the next volume of the JSF.
Matt Swift
Academic Advisor- OSU Film Studies Program
Production Lead-The Journal of Short Film
Nikki Swift-The Columbus Moving Image Art Review