VIS – ZubrOFFka: Generations. At the Crossroads

VIS – ZubrOFFka: Generations. At the Crossroads

June 4, 2017

Trust, the elusive theme breezing in here and there at various VIS film programmes, is transformed by a selection of five top films in cooperation with the Polish film festival ZubrOFFka and is presented as a sometimes misguided instinct of an unknowing child towards its family. It is only natural that the first people a child trusts are the parents and this basic need for support and understanding endures in adult life, as the opening film, documentary Three Conversations on Life (2016) by Polish filmmaker Julia Staniszewska explains in vivid emotion. The necessity of trusting a parent outrivals all generational and situational differences and this is passionately depicted in Jure Pavlovic’s 2015 EFA short winner Picnic (Croatia), an homage to hugs and games a son and his father share in spite of the father being imprisoned.

Tender sentiments are put to a halt with Bulgarian director Pavel G. Vesnakov’s Clermont-Ferrand 2014 winner Pride. Christopher Olofsson, another friend of VIS and programme director of the Uppsala Short Film Festival, jokingly mentioned during Friday’s Cut This Down! debate on how short should short films be, that he can barely count on the fingers of one hand for how many times he wished a film was longer. I can only imagine he had Pride on his thoughts because one could watch Vesnakov’s matchless portrait of an insatiable desire of a passing generation to resist change for hours on. If lengthened, the film could have had epic proportions because of its sophisticated symbolism and powerful visual impact. The still opening shot of a hunched fisherman opens up questions that deserve a feature-length film. As it is, Pride is a slick and delicate achievement that successfully manages to engulf the anxiety of today’s world into a cultivated film capsule one can only wish was longer.

The last two films ‒ My Dad by UK’s Marcus Armitage and Interior. Familia. by Spain’s Gerard Quinto, Esteve Soler and David Torras (both 2014) ‒ play to a completely different tune. Armitage’s chaotic and vigorous animation about an ignorant father’s bad influence on a young boy’s malleable mind is a purified glimpse into the psyche of a child who is trying to decipher the immigration crisis that Europe is facing in recent years. It is a chaotic experience: the language, the drawings, the music, everything is broken down and tossed around the film screen like in a whirlwind. Be that as it may, the schizoid confusion is all too familiar to those who closely follow Europe’s reactions to the refugees.

Interior. Familia. starts out as a passable joke about hysterical Spanish parents literally waking up their son to tell him he was a result of coitus interruptus. But, as the situation develops, this black jewel of dark humour gets closer and closer to the language of corporate capitalism eating its own children to stay alive and active. The filmmaking trio controls the tempo of the genre film well enough but fails to deliver in a pivotal scene. Interior. Familia. needs to be as realistic as possible for the dark humour to really work, and its otherwise carefully crafted and authentically funny punches seem excessive if the illusion is broken by a poorly staged murder. Still, the film is still very funny and smart in its deep cut into the tissue of capitalistic cruelty and  Machiavellianism.

Marija Jeremić
marijajeremic38@gmail.com