IDFA 2022: VICE Night
VICE guarantees a special evening with short films that give you a slightly different view of the world around you.
Away (Ruslan Fedotow, HU/BE/PT 2022, 28')
A heartbreaking portrait of 16-year-old Ukrainian refugees Andrey and Alisa, who help out at a school for refugee children in Budapest. Andrey asks the children to draw pictures of something from back home in Ukraine. What beautiful things can they recall? He offers the example of his own grandfather’s cherry orchard. The children use confrontational, adult vocabulary to describe their experiences of war. A young boy earnestly goes through a number of battle strategies, and a girl provides a vivid account of a rocket attack.
After school, the young couple make colorful protest artwork out on the streets of the Hungarian capital, sparking discussions between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian passersby. The camera films the pair without commentary, capturing the everyday fun had by two teenagers in love, as well as the difficult phone calls to the home front. Reassuring stories of ripening cherries are welcome, but the sadness of the war, the imminent trauma and the growing awareness of their wrecked youth is unfortunately ever-present.
A Robust Heart (Martín Benchimol, AR/US/GB 2022, 12')
Against a pristine blue background, butchers working in an Argentine abattoir talk about their work—how to cut a heart from a carcass, for example—but mostly about their private lives. With the fresh blood still on their white aprons, they engage in short conversations that touch on fathers and children (or their absence), on motivations and on deepest fears.
In this simple but effective narrative, something meaningful about each of these butchers rises to the surface. And the director reveals something about himself as well.
Will You Look at Me (Shuli Huang, CN 2022, 21')
After spending some time in New York, filmmaker Shuli Huang returns to his hometown of Wenzhou. Without his lover, who is about to start studying in Belgium, he is alone with his family. Huang’s mother can’t accept that her son is gay, and begs him to lead a “normal” life. We hear their conversations in the form of a voice-over, as they run the gamut from self-reproach and wailing to emotional blackmail. Motherly love and social conventions collide painfully time after time, without any resolution.
Huang edited the conversations to Super8 material filmed during his visit home, of a city through fogged-up glasses, loving shots of his mother, flashes of his father, and the filmmaker himself: a shadow, waving to the camera but never truly in view. This intimate and gorgeously composed film won the director a Queer Palm at Semaine de la Critique in Cannes.
Petit Taxi (Samy Sidali, FR 2021, 28')
Charismatic taxi driver Oussama crisscrosses Casablanca day and night, picking up passengers and taking them to their destinations. Along the way, the driver and his customers invariably end up in lively conversations about major and minor topics, ranging from day-to-day worries to serious issues and big dreams.
Oussama is candid about his own life and at the same time listens with interest to men and women from all walks of life. Playfully and intuitively, this produces a cinematic potpourri of the inhabitants of the Moroccan city.
These slices of life are faintly reminiscent of Jafar Panahi’s Taxi Tehran, even though in this case the filmmaker is not the driver himself. From the passenger’s seat, director Samy Sidali films both Oussama and his customers. Their smoothly edited conversations are as diverse as the destinations and points of view of the passengers.
Documentary lovers, keep 9 through 20 November free in your calendar. The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam presents its 35th edition in cinemas throughout Amsterdam, including several special programmes in Eye.
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