After months of preparation, selection and debate, the Leiden International short Film Experience (LIsFE) celebrated its 4th annual film festival at the Kaasmarkt Gymzaal in Leiden (9 June 2012). The event featured 99 films of varying lengths, themes and styes, submitted by professional film-makers and students alike from over 40 countries. Accompanying the exposition was a competition for the best professional and student films, selected by both a jury and the audience.
Setting the scene
The hallowed grounds of the Kaasmarkt Gymzaal aptly set the scene for the day’s festivities. Now an artist enclave, the secluded halls of the former school building made for a fitting venue, emanating an intimate, sometimes eerie feel. “I think it is the perfect place for a short film festival,” says Sally Pasquarè of the organizing committee. “Since it is a studio for artists, it has a very edgy, bohemian look.” This creative and independent atmosphere also reflected the films that were presented.
Cinedans and the Hamburg Media School
Among the number of categories on hand, one cinematic genre that stood out was Cinedans. From diamond dancing and aquatic ballet to a solo concerto performed by a face, the beauty, strength and grace of dance was made even more vibrant through the eye of the lens. As dance is not the most accessible art form, its collaboration with short film making allows the performances to reach a broader audience. “We wanted to give people the opportunity to see more specialized short films,” shares Nelli Oswald. Hence, the LIsFE’s partnership with Cinedans, an Amsterdam-based foundation aiming to promote the synthesis of dance and cinematography.
At the same time, the festival showcased the works of students from the Hamburg Media School. Their entries explored a range of human emotions —isolation, rage, fear and lust— captured in no less than 7 minutes. Though the film academy enlists only 24 students annually, it is the most successful school in Germany, garnering over 50 international awards each year.
With 1,072 entries to choose from (a new LIsFE record), film selection for the festival was an arduous task. “It’s a lot of work. We can [only] take 10 percent of the movies we received,” admits Ms. Oswald. Out of the 99 films shown throughout the day, picking a winner seems downright impossible. “It was very difficult. I think everyone can say it,” adds Ms. Pasquarè. Nevertheless, the awardees of this year’s competition were truly a cut above the rest:
Assemblé (2011) — Best Student Film, Audience Award
Directed by Miguel Ferraez of La Universidad Anahauc in Mexico, Assemblé is a heart-felt film about a boys’ journey into the unknown. Having lived with his terminally-ill father in France, ten year-old Etienne moves to Mexico to stay with his estranged mother who abandoned him as a child.
A Casa das Horas (The Hours House, 2010) — Best Film, Audience Award
Doña Celeste is a woman saddened by a world that has lost track of time. Ignored by her far too busy son, she finds finds companionship in the most unlikely of places. Shot in Brazil by Heraldo Cavalcanti, A Casa das Horas is a blend of social commentary and beautiful storytelling.
Ekmek (Bread, 2012) — Best Film, Jury Award
The surprise winner of the competition was Turkish film, Ekmek. Directed by Koray Sevindi, the film takes place in an all-boys boarding school, tracing the mysterious disappearance of a piece of bread. According to the LIsFE jury, the honesty of the characters and the simplicity by which the film conveyed human emotion made this entry unique in many ways. “The strength of this film lies in the smallest and most delicate moments, showing that a great story can be told even without complicated dialogues or whimsical plots!”
Indeed, it is the quality of storytelling that makes a short film extraordinary. The myriad of possibilities, techniques and interpretations has elevated short film making into a contemporary art form. Be that as it may, it is a genre most commonly overlooked. Thus, festivals such as the LIsFE serve as a venue where short film making can thrive, supporting this creative form of artistic expression by entertaining, inspiring and educating its audience.
Needless to say, this year’s event was an unprecedented success. “I think that some people are going to attempt to be here the whole time,” remarks Karel Miettinen, 4 hours before the festival closing. “Some people stayed the whole day so that’s a good sign,” adds Ms. Oswald. With more than 13 hours of beautiful films and over 200 people in attendance, the LIsFE has officially made its mark as an international film festival to watch out for. ✌
☞ For more information on the Leiden International short Film Experience, visit the website listed below: