36th International Competition
“People have the power” – Patti Smith
The choice was difficult and more limiting than usual. But the International Competition will once again host lovely stories and singular voices for 2024. Around the world in sixty-six films. Fifty-two countries visited, (re)discovered and magnified through the vision of sixty-eight directors. Grab the programme!
Women (, men and everyone else) on the verge of a nervous breakdown
Let’s be honest: 2023 was not an easy year. Some of the people in our International Competition also took one on the chin, and we’d rather laugh than cry about it with them. In the Indonesian director Khozy Rizal’s Basri and Salma in a Never-Ending Comedy, a childless couple feels pressured by their family to procreate, to the point that they sing (literally). In Kakor, by Alessandro Stigliano (Sweden), a man decides to lash out at the rigid hierarchy by joining his young fatherhood to his love of pastries in an… unappetizing way. You’re Invited to Tuscan’s 5th Birthday Party! (US) is another story of blondes and cakes, where a mother tries to reel in the fiasco that her son’s birthday party has become due to a sad story of a pony.
Mother to mother, the same need to open the flood gates. In If You’re Happy, Phoebe Arnstein (UK) sets the stage for a remarkable performance by Erin Doherty, who plays Princess Anne in seasons 3 and 4 of The Crown, and here plays a mother struggling with the pressures of motherhood. Another well-known “princess” from our 2024 lineup is Emma d’Arcy who goes from playing Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon to a young stagehand who dreams of becoming the next movie star in The Talent, by the Irish filmmaker Thomas May Bailey. Though families are sometimes a burden, the ones we choose are often a source of solace: in the poignant film Après-coups (Quebec, Canada), women who are victims of domestic violence make “sisterhood” fashionable again. Lastly, the streets of Colombia in Entre las sombras arden mundos welcome a mother who is looking for her son and for a little bit of comfort.
But let’s talk about movies: some films in the competition captivate through their ingenious use of sequence shots, grabbing the viewer and plunging them directly into the heart of the action, making them a sort of actor in what they’re shown. The Portuguese director Basil da Cunha’s 2720 takes us through the streets of one of Lisbon’s underprivileged neighborhoods, following the fortunes of two characters who pass by each other without ever meeting in the labyrinth of streets and moments of humanity. Et eksempel: Dem på gulvet by Selma Sunniva (Denmark) also talks about humanity: people rubbing elbows in a psychiatric asylum on a day like any other… or maybe not. Animation is continually in motion, leading us from one style to the next. Finland’s Nun or Never! is both classic and very classy, tracing the doubts and dreams of nuns that will blow your cassock off. In Wander to Wonder, we’re happy to see the director Nina Gantz’s silky style again, after she was in competition in 2015 with Edmond: here she unveils the unexpected backstage events of a show for young people that is anything but childish. Lastly, a giant (feline) leap towards the future with Miisufy (Estonia), where a group of digital cats dream of breaking free.
…And the substance
A thirst for freedom is also at the heart of many of our international films, like a never-ending shout. The end of individual freedoms for Afghan women, as seen in Elham Ehsas’ Yellow, where music, colors, laughing and glances cross and resonate one last time before they disappear, behind a veil. The freedom that was lost a long time ago and the freedom that we regain, a little, in a simple shared fruit, as happens in Une orange de Jaffa (Palestine), where a young man tries desperately to find his mother in Gaza. People who think they’re witnessing their own struggle for freedom, their perspective tinged with naivete, as in the exceptional and rare Sudanese documentary, Suddenly TV, which follows a fake TV crew through the streets full of militarism, repression and people on the make. Lastly, from detectives to the frontiers of science fiction (A Black Hole Near Kent County, United States), the faded colors of an Indian river and its inhabitants (Virundhu), and an invasion of grasshoppers that ravage the Italian countryside (Tilipirche), the International Competition is rife with environmental concerns, revealing a collective and necessary consciousness across the globe.
More than ever, short films are a mirror of the shared and singular realities of the world, spurring us to want to see them or see them again in a new light. So let’s laugh, cry, demonstrate, dance, think, shout and above all celebrate these international short films!