I was invited to Grimstad, Norway this month to host the Kortfilmfestivalen (Norwegian Short Film Festival) International Short Film Program. The Festival takes place every summer in a scenic coastal town that is so picturesque it almost has the sculptural ambience of a movie set - freshly whitewashed houses, omnipresent fish cakes and a harbor creaking with sailboats.
While there is not a dedicated "art film" program per se, the Festival does incorporate experimental work veering toward the plotless direction of the narrative spectrum. On Saturday, the International Short Film Program focused on directors trained in art school who create work to be shown in gallery/museum installation formats as well as single-channel theatrical screenings. There was also a showcase presented by Atelier Nord (a "project base for unstable art forms" based in Oslo) and a debate on the chasm between the visual art and film industries:
Moving Images - A Debate on the Arenas and Direction of a Changing Medium
Today's visual artists and filmmakers have the opportunity to work in several different arenas, both in regard to idea development, screening and financing. At the best case, this can lead to new, exciting and proactive meetings for example between the film industry and visual artists working with film and video. But do we speak the same language? How can visual artists and filmmakers find common ground?
The debate was in Norwegian, but there may be a follow-up in English next year as the topic clearly merits much international discussion.
Thanks to Kortfilmfestivalen for this opportunity! Below are five highlights.
EGRESS is a narrative set in a gas station in the edgelands of Oslo. The main characters work at the bottom of the oil company hierarchy and are engulfed in the everyday and the dark economic and psychological shadows of their society. EGRESS is the story of a young woman who deals with her every day work situation with independence and stubbornness in her work and life in the periphery of the city. The film shows relationships between control and independence, about labour, class and work, but it is also a poetic film about a socially insecure edgeland of the city—and about a psychological flipside or cost of the everyday, somewhere near the bottom of the huge economic ladder of the oil industry which secures Norway's stability. EGRESS' world is a world of social instability and economic insecurity as part of a society undergoing major changes. EGRESS is shot entirely on "location" in Oslo's Groruddalen, mainly between an apartment complex and a gas station. The film is an experimental fiction built up from documentary material which mixes the environment- and character-based to talk about contemporary society.
IN A BRIEF MOMENT OF OPTIMISM (2013)
Marie Rømer Roth
Developed from an idea of placing a specific person in a specific environment, this video reflects on, a space, a personal reality as well as on a specific time in history, namely the democratic Utopia of the 1960s and the 1970s. In many ways 'a short-lived, fragile period of naïve optimism…’.
Following the person moving through the building describes a concrete and emotional journey. Through reflecting the empty architecture with the skateboard as measure, the sensation of displacement vs. momentum is the topic of the film.All the scenes are improvised and developed on site through a close collaboration between protagonist, camera and director. Shot on location at the church complex of St Agnes (build 1964-67) Berlin.
MARC JACOBS (2014)
Sam de Jong
Nine year old Soufyane, son of a Moroccan father and Dutch mother, lives in an apartment with his mother and sister in a typical big city high-rise estate. His father, whom he never sees, invites him on a journey. A journey to the country of his ancestors - Morocco. Soufyane is thrilled and prepares for the trip fastidiously, as it is also a kind of initiation.
AS LONG AS SHOTGUNS REMAIN (2013)
Caroline Poggi & Jonathan Vinel
Summer in Bouloc, a small village in the south of France. It is extremely hot and all lies abandoned. The streets are deserted, devoid of people. 18-year-old Joshua wanders around aimlessly. Single-family homes, rows of swimming pools. It is the memories of his best friend Silvain's suicide that guide him and that he reads in the walls of the houses. Joshua doesn't want to continue living either. He already belongs to the world of the dead, but still has to take care of his brother before he can cross over completely. He must find a family for him. His brother ought to be saved, even without him. Joshua commences his search.
War is waged on the kitchen table while a man drinks coffee. The world is on fire. Helicopters shred his newspaper and a drone fires at a plate of broccoli. Démontable is a funny and playful film on the absurd relationship between daily life and global news.