by Sherif Awad
Short films are known for their condensed ideas and messages, which set the tones of great expectations to come from a new filmmaker in the course of shaping and maturing. At the fifth International Short Film Festival of Cyprus (ISFFC) that took place from 17-23 October, audience and jury members were exposed to a variety of creative ideas profoundly expressed in the 70 short documentaries, narratives and even animation screened in this short period.
Our Fathers’ Sons is written and directed by Ulaa Salim who also stars as a young man who has being brought up in Denmark but feels being unaccepted the same way like his Arab father when he first migrated to Europe. In its only eight-minute playtime, the director succeeds to rise from slow-paced silence to maximum energy when the narration of Salim becomes a rap performance in front of a Danish audience.
The main international competition in ISFFC does not only have short narratives and documentaries but also short animation. The Greek animated short My Stuffed Granny is a stop motion puppets animation that depicts the Greek current sociopolitical and economic crisis. Based on a story by Nina Kouletaki, the story revolves around little girl Sophia who is experiencing the crisis from her innocent perspective. When he ran out of money, Sophia’s poor father relies on the pension assigned by the government to his mother. However, one night, granny dies and the father decides to stuff her to appear alive in order to continue to cash the pension. The characters, the environment, the house, the neighborhood, the puppets and the costumes are all truth to reality, which gives the film a bittersweet feeling. The director Effie Pappa won the prestigious McLaren Award at the Edinburgh Film Festival last year for her animated work in My Stuffed Granny.
In Traveling Lady, Colombian-born, New York-based visual artist Jessica Mitrani resurrects the daring spirit of Nellie Bly, the 19th-century American journalist who circled the globe in 72 days carrying little more than the clothes on her back. Spanish actress Rossy de Palma—best known as Pedro Almodovar’s favorite actress—plays many roles in this multimedia adventure that explores feminine stereotypes using different types of drawing and photography.
Ave Maria by Basil Khalil is the first film in years that deals with Palestini-Israeli conflict in a funny approach. It starts with a group of Palestinian Carmelite nuns who are sworn to silence whose are surprised by a car crash outside of their convent walls. The victims of the crash are a family of Jews who asks their help to continue their road trip. Basil Khalil’s father was Palestinian, while his mother was British. Khalil was raised in Nazareth, studied in Scotland then I worked in British television in London for five years.
Bang Bang! is a French film by Julien Bisaro who used classic animation and contemporary computer graphics to tell the story of Éda, a young woman who is objecting, in her own way, her father her father’s impulses for her to become an animal hunter like him . The film is based on Alain Resnais’ Mon oncle d’Amérique and on the writings of Professor Henri Laborit on the three behaviors in a conflict: to do nothing and accept the situation, to flee or to confront the situation.
Next week, we will speak about more shorts and the awards given at the festival. I had a privilege to meet among my jury colleagues New York-born, London-based Bruno Coppola, who started as assistant director to David Fincher and co-screenwriter on his cousin Francis Coppola’s film The Godfather part III, rehearsing with Al Pacino and Andy Garcia. After three years as chief radio drama writer at the BBC World Service, he moved into film. His next film is scheduled for Berlinale 2016.