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Short Film Festival Celebrates 40 Anniversary

The short film festival in Clermont-Ferrand is the world's largest of its kind, and celebrated its 40 anniversary in February. Through 8 packed days, over 500 films were shown on 12 different arenas.


Coming here to Clermont-Ferrand at the foot of Aurvegne – after an exotic train journey from troubled Paris – and breathing in clear, cool mountain air, greeting unspoiled and friendly residents, and not least experiencing an infrastructure ideally suited to the diverse events, is like coming to another world. The site, which has around 140 000 inhabitants, embraces, among other things, two merged medieval centers, Clermont and Montferrand, and has a history dating back to the time before Julius Caesar. The twin cities, which are surrounded by volcanoes, were merged once in the 1700 century, providing a perfect setting for a unique and exceptionally colorful festival. The city is, besides the festival, best known for being the headquarters of the Michelin Group, and the site of the comics about Asterix and Obelix.

Large variation width. This year's festival has a total of 23 different categories of short films, with the international and the national class as the largest and most interesting. In addition came classes with experimental film, music, animation, food and a "tribute category" where classic Polish short film, originating in filmódz film school, got to frolic in free and vibrant dressage.

From the diverse festival program, I have selected four short films: two pieces with pure Scandinavian affiliation, a French-Finnish collaboration project and a unique French animation contribution. All films contain a lot of humor, in the form of satire and / or stylized staging, but there are also some darker undertones and darker messages in several of the films mentioned. The selection is subjective, but they have all distinguished themselves in different ways. Together, they reflect the diverse, multicultural and hybrid expression that I believe is so typical of this festival.

Hybrid expressions. A lush and growing Finnish film environment is represented with two films in the main program of the festival. There are two very different contributions: a short documentary under the international program, and a longer fiction film – a Finnish-French collaboration within the national category. In both cases, the action and the colorist have something unmistakably Finnish about them, a humorous touch, albeit with totally different emphasis. In addition, in line with the main impression from the festival program otherwise, the latter film plays on precisely the unique opportunities a multicultural and hybrid expression represents.

Political slapstick documentary. In the hilarious documentary rest shift we are witnessing a slapstick-like marathon, shaped like a Polish parliament by a municipal council meeting. On November 7, 2016, the city council of the Finnish city of Tampere will meet to discuss the creation of the new tram offering. This debate turns out to last for almost half a day, apparently without reaching any kind of agreement. Nine minutes of packed, authentic commedia dell'arte from the Finnish outskirts with its stylish grasp, many defenders of grassroots democracy not manages to lead populism back to its original source: the Scandinavian popular democracy.

Se rest shift here:

French retro nostalgia.
In the Franco-Finnish cooperation project Kajaani we get to see a 21 minute campy family bag from the Finnish countryside, with a steady, French regripe and clear kaurismäki references, and not least: mad humor. At the center of the action is Juho, who, after spending most of adult life in France, returns to his home country to say goodbye to his crazy, space-nostalgic artist father, who in turn is just waiting to be brought back to the stars. The idea of ​​the reunion with his father gives the PTSD-affected Juho a painful, but also liberating, childhood revival, with vivid glimpses of aliens, consuming AA batteries and pike fishing at an ominously violent level. A "near karaoke" experience – where Kaurismäki sounds clearly and competently – pushes the protagonist back to everyday life, and the reunion of the childhood pike brings balance to the accounts, in a delightful twist completely on the ropes.

Animation scrolls. The many advanced and varied animated films were one of the most impressive during these eleven days. In the unique animated film negative Space, or "my dad taught me how to pack the suitcase" – whose records also adorn the cover of the festival's main program – is given a masterpiece in effective visual communication. The movie, which is only six minutes long, is based on something as prosaic as packing a suitcase. It soon turns out that the suitcase is a metaphor for the father-son relationship, and that this metaphor should be expanded to include a meeting with the "last thing" – in the form of the father's funeral. A showcase in elegant, state of the art French film animation, with great appeal to the general public as well.

In Swedish Shadows we get served a rather ugly description of the bourgeois discreet charm, in the form of a stylized, and partly absurd, festive experience, first and foremost from the child's perspective.

Swedish folk horror. In Swedish ShadowHere we are served a rather grim description of the bourgeois discreet charm, in the form of a stylized, and partly absurd, festive experience, first and foremost from the child's perspective. Everyone in the company is trying to adapt to the invisible, yet rigorous framework that the hostess desperately tries to maintain. But the increasingly outrageous attempts to cover the elephant in the room eventually end up with a violent outcome against the one who covers in the least convincing way. The child – by the way, a wonderful role, played by Ayla Turin – seems to be the only one who senses the shadows, even when they completely threaten to take over. The film's party-goers, who in civilian life presumably run a professional ballet ensemble, give the film a distinctive underlying impression through a studied choreography, an exotic touch of something archetypal – decadent and authoritarian.

The audience got to meet a host of other animators and actors behind several of the festival films, and they also got to meet both the producer and screenwriter / director behind this accomplished work, which with its accomplished design was one of the decided highlights of the diverse and colorful festival repertoire.

avatar photos
Sigurd Ohrem
Ohrem is a writer for Ny Tid.

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