By: Nynke Broersma
There’s a long line in front of the theatre as the doors open for the final night of the Flicks International Student Short Film Festival: even with extra chairs it’s completely sold out. The festival trailer is shown to officially open the night, after which hosts Paul and Jelle (famous duos don’t need last names) take the stage. Dressed to impress, they welcome everyone and introduce the first film.
The evening kicks off with Starý Král (Czech Republic), a film about two sons dealing with the consequences of their father’s Alzheimer disease. It’s a bit of a slow start to the evening, but perhaps that’s partly due to the fact that it takes some time to get used to the films being over relatively quickly. The second film, Deadly Dinner Date (UK), is definitely an audience favorite: short, sharp and funny. Where the elicited response during Deadly Dinner Date is laughter, during the computer animation film Taking the Plunge (USA) it’s all “awwws” from the audience (click here if you want to see why). Finishing with the film Dupek (Poland), the first half of the night provides an interesting mix of genres.
The second half of the night is equally diverse. The young boy from Debiut Miłość (Poland) steals just about everybody’s heart. “I’ll go up to her and say ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’. If she says ‘no’, I’ll say: ‘Would you like to have one?’ ”. A straightforward and charming film. Not so straightforward is Jarwie (Mexico), a film from the surrealism genre which leaves endless room for interpretation.
I find myself wound up in many discussions during the breaks because the program is so varied. Not only do I hear, and am I part of, discussions about which film is best, but there are also many conversations about interpretation. Christian, a visitor from Gemany, explains to me why he liked Jarwie best: “There were some nice surprises today, and especially the last one (Jarwie, ed.). When I read the summary I wasn’t that interested, but in the end I even voted for it. I liked the parts where it was left to the audience’s interpretations. Even in the end, you’re left with your own imagination. I thought it was about her joining a religious organization perhaps.”
Later I hear someone from the Flicks organization say she felt it was about a young woman trying to find herself, which just goes to show there is no definite answer when it comes to personal interpretation.
Whereas Prepáčte Mi (I Am Sorry) from Slovakia didn’t really stick with me, it was the one Clara from Germany was very impressed by: “It really touched me and I really liked the acting.” What her friend Jamilla likes most about the festival is that the films are so different.“Because the movies are so short you really get into it and then the next one comes along, and so it never gets boring.” One of her favorites of the evening is The Chicken of Wuzuh (South Korea).
As the judges deliberate, The New Poor treat the audience to some music. “It sounds like we’re singing ‘nobody cares about AIDS’, but it’s actually ‘nobody cares about age’, they jokingly introduce their song “Nobody Cares About Age” (check out the song in a different setting here). Strong voices, strong performance.
After this musical intermezzo the judges announce the winner. Like Clara, they too were impressed by The Chicken of Wuzuh. Although it doesn’t take receive the first prize, it gets an honorable mention. The judges feel that director Sungbin Byun has “mastered the art of film making” and they applaud his decision to cast someone with Down’s syndrome. The winner of the audience award is also announced; it’s En Vred Mand (Denmark) which is the audience’s favorite.
Mast Qalandar (UK) takes home first prize. The judges find it “hard to believe it is a student film” because of its high quality. Those who weren’t there on Wednesday when the film was first shown get a second chance tonight, as Mast Qalander is screened once more to conclude the three-day festival. This coming-of-age film is about a young boy who wants to cut his hair, but is afraid his mother won’t approve, and so he decides to take matters into his own hands. It’s cinematographically beautiful and moving as well as funny. A well-deserved winner to conclude three days of high quality films.
To get an impression, check out the trailer of Mast Qalandar here.