VICE has selected astonishing stories and visual highlights from the IDFA program. Discover new ways of storytelling with their selection of short films.
When We Were Them (Danis Tanović & Damir Šagolj, BI 2021) (15 min.)
A powerful indictment of the inhumane treatment of refugees in Bosnia. How can it be that people who in the recent past were themselves subjected to deadly hatred should now treat refugees as criminals?
“In the middle of Bosnia’s nowhere, far from where they want to be, thousands of migrants suffer,” says the voiceover. Drone footage shows a camp in a forest surrounded by high fences, reminiscent of a prison. This is precisely how the refugees experience it, so many of them escape from this “sub-zero hell of a mountain camp.” They seek shelter in abandoned, derelict buildings in the cities. Without running water or electricity, they try to survive in the cold. Some choose not to wait, but attempt to flee to Western Europe.
When We Were Them is an indictment of European refugee policy, but directed specifically at the people of Bosnia. How can it be that people who in the recent past were themselves subjected to deadly hatred should now treat refugees as criminals? “Do we remember when we were them?”
Nuisance Bear (Jack Weisman& Gabriela Osio Vanden, CA 2021) (15 min.)
Churchill, Manitoba is a famous destination for photographing polar bears. But how do they experience the attention? Beautifully composed shots assume a bear’s perspective as it navigates a suspenseful obstacle course of human activity.
Churchill, Manitoba is a coastal town in northern Canada that lies along the path of migrating polar bears. Every year tourists flock to the “Polar Bear Capital of the World” wielding phones and cameras in hopes of catching a glimpse of bears in the wild. Yet, Churchill wildlife officers’ mandate is to protect locals from intruding bears. How do these animals actually experience the push and pull of human activity?
With beautifully composed shots and calmly panning camerawork, this short film assumes the bear’s perspective as it plods along trying to find a way through town. Wandering over asphalt, past parked cars, banging on a closed gate, the bear appears as an interloper in the midst of civilization. As wildlife officers in trucks and helicopters circle closer and closer, a suspenseful chase ensues. Without words, Nuisance Bear is a story of two colliding worlds told with stunning contrasting images.
Lead Me Home (Pedro Kos & Jon Shenk, US 2021) (40 min.)
Compassionate account of life among the homeless in three major U.S. cities. Personal stories from several homeless people throw light on the underlying social issues.
While glass apartment complexes mushroom from the ground, the homeless roll up their tents and brush their teeth at the edge of a busy highway. Contrasts such as this one repeatedly pinpoint the prosperity gap and give an impression of homeless life in three major U.S. cities.
There are big holes in the social safety net in America. Shot over three years in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, this film presents portraits of people who slipped through those holes. They talk about how they ended up on the streets, and the sometimes Kafkaesque challenges they face trying to get off them. The sheer scope of those stories breaks through stereotypical assumptions about homeless people and sheds light on the underlying social issues.
In between the drone shots and time-lapses, Lead Me Home is a compassionate portrait of a scattered community connected by what they lack. When asked what they need most, the almost unanimous answer is “a home.”
Documentary lovers, keep November 17 to 28 free in your calendar. The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam presents its 34th edition in cinemas throughout Amsterdam, including several special programs in Eye.