Cyprus Short Festival ISFFC 2015
by Sherif Awad
Before I was invited to Cyprus (which I visit for the first time) as jury member in the fifth edition of its International Short Film Festival (ISFFC), I was exposed to several Cypriot films this year including the two documentaries Evaporating Borders and Beloved Days that I depicted in previous articles in Westchester Guardian in addition to the short film 5 Ways 2 Die that was selected in Alexandria Film Festival last September. The Festival was set up by the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture and the shows are programmed in Rialto Theatre since 1998. When it started five years ago, ISFFC only consisted of a national Cypriot competition then, in 2011, it expanded to an international competition and a new festival. Filmmaker Alexia Roider, whose short film Styx has won many awards including Independent Spirit Award at Monaco International Film Festival, 2008, is the ISFFC artistic director while being also the President of the Directors Guild of Cyprus. Born in Germany and raised in Cyprus, she studied at Kassel University and continued her education at the University of the Arts in London. Since 1998, she has been working directing television commercials, corporate videos, documentaries and special events across Cyprus.
This year ISFFC celebrates its fifth edition by welcoming new films and new filmmakers with a main objective to support the promotion of film art across Cyprus and the international countries. The ISFFC’s jury is comprised each year by five acclaimed film professionals, academics and festival organizers from around the globe. This year, the jury of the international competition is president by Fibby Kioria, the artistic director of Maisha Film Lab for East Africans. Her volunteer services include being on the Board of Directors for Goethe-Zentrum Kampala/Ugandan German Cultural Society. Fibby was born and raised in Kenya and now resides in Uganda. The rest of the members includes Bruno Coppola, a writer-director from New York who moved to London. His first film was Stuff That Bear! was shot in Bucharest in 2003, and went on to win 25 prizes in over 100 festivals; Simon Farmakas, a director whose short film Airport for Sale which was screened in film festivals like Rome, Oberhausen, Seoul, Morocco and Los Angeles; Teresa Kwong, the curator of Hong Kong Arts Centre and the director of ifva (Incubator for Film and Visual media in Asia) between 2004 and 2014. I think it will be a wonderful experience working with them on the jury.
What's special about short films is there distilled audiovisual impact on the viewer in a concrete nick of time. And the festival has plenty to offer. This includes Ogasawara by Tato Kotetishvili from Georgia that revolves about a couple, Garika and Olga, who are about to get married, but they face many funny and unbelievable obstacles in the process; Giovanni and the Water Ballet by Astrid Bussink from the Netherlands revolves around ten year-old Giovanni who has a dream: to be the first young boy to compete in the Dutch Synchronized Swimming Championships although it is sport practiced most of the time by young girls. Sømand by Gabriel Tzafka from Denmark revolves arounf the sailor Jørgen who returns home for a single night during which he tries to track down his lost love whom he left many years ago. As the hours pass by, Jørgen realizes that much has changed and he makes startling discoveries about himself and the woman he used to love.
The parallel programs include some Comic Con retrospective with many films including The Red Thunder
Alvaro Ron from the US. The main character is Sarah, a nerdy teenager, who asks her mother's new car to go on a date with her boyfriend. When mum says no, Sarah decides to steal the car but many unexpected happens that will change her life forever. The festival will also presents a 3D selection of shorts within the parallel program. Among its selection, All Sides of the Road by US directors and visual artists Marc Downie and Paul Kaiser who work also under the pseudonym OpenEndedGroup, depicts a Old Highway 101 in Iowa using digital and analog technologies and changing of shutter-speed to give a tribute to the very early motion pictures experiments. More from Cyprus next week.