June 6, 2017

The final block of shorts for the VIS national competition programme, “Image/Worlds”, consisted of a series of humorous reflections on art and contemporary society. Apart from Lukas Marxt, the man behind the six-minute homage to a Californian desert used in Hollywood movies and land art, Circular Inscription, all of the directors were present at the screening and engaged in a friendly and relaxed discussion about their work.

The film that capped off the block, and the national competition programme, was Christoph Schwarz’s self-referential mock documentary LDAE, also the longest film at an entertaining half an hour. Schwarz is a regular at the festival and has made a name for himself thanks to his ironic treatment of the subjects of his works. In LDAE, i.e. “Lass die Anderen Entscheiden” (Let others decide), he documents his project to direct a new age, dystopian film with the help of his community. This community he refers to is a closed Facebook group where he asks his followers to help him decide what the film should be about, who should act in it, and so on. It takes a few minutes for the film to establish a clear narrative line but the irony is made obvious when the community starts overruling its founder. Schwarz elegantly cross-sections fiction and reality. He strives to make an autofictional, self-referential film diary, which simultaneously serves as a sharp documentary about contemporary art’s pretentiousness. This intelligent interplay of genres is where Schwarz’ humour and originality originate from.

As for the rest of the films, Veronika Schubert’s First and Foremost touched on the topic of empty political rhetoric, while others focused on the elusive nature of art and film in general. Transparent by Katha Schaar, which started off the block of shorts, was a condensed and elaborate reflection on the representation of gender in art. The film is made out of a single two-minute animated shot of a middle-aged man dressed as Goya’s Clothed Maja. The thin fabric of his dress gradually disappears and his genitals, which are at the centre of the shot, take up all of the attention as he transforms into Naked Maya (both paintings are from 1797).

Anna Vasof, Siegfried A. Fruhauf and Alexander Gratzer are behind the experimental gems When Time Moves Faster, Fuddy Duddy and Espresso, respectively. Each of these films explores how far can experimental cinema go. Vasof’s film consists of several vignettes, each depicting how optical illusions are created on film. On the other hand, Fruhauf’s innocently titled video is an intentional assault on the senses with a clear intention to induce a headache. The film that seemed to warrant the warmest response from the audience was the two-scene joke on contemporary art by Gratzer.

Marija Jeremi?