“Reference” by Elisabetta Cancelli is an original and quite youthful project, in which there is something to catch on and something to be inspired by.

It’s worth starting with the fact that the film is a kind of color and perspective experiment, which will certainly find its audience, but can also repel fans of the classical structure of cinema. Color correction, shooting format, as well as camera work look bold and very unusual, creating the feeling that this is exclusively the author’s work, without any commercialism, in fact it is so.

Structurally and plot-wise, this is a simple and easy-to-understand movie, which is probably more aimed at a youth audience, as well as those who may have experienced or are experiencing similar stories with “wrong friends” or rejected love. The choice that the main character faces, and which Elisabetta Cancelli offers the viewer, is not only the choice between sick friendship and love in a particular case, but it is also the ability to analyze your social circle and leave in life those people who will positively influence you and your surroundings. In my opinion, this is a very important quality that many young people neglect, thereby losing or not realizing their potential. To the pleasant bonuses of this original work, I would like to add fresh and dynamic music and very attractive characters who look beautiful, both next to each other and separately.

I would call Elisabetta Cancelli a brave and daring young director who is not afraid to try very experimental forms of cinematography, without losing the essence and message of the film, without turning the whole thing into a psychedelic arthouse. The result is a romantic, educational project that stands out from many others due to its unusual technical component. Great job!

Directed by: Elisabetta Cancelli
“Dinner with Dante” by Katherine Schimmel is a screenplay for a very unorthodox yet retro-style film that tells the story of a woman who tries to cope with pain of losing a love of her life through dialogs with a sculpture of Dante. Unlike many other short film stories, “Dinner with Dante” brings incredible amount of emotion and texture in such short terms.

Although there is not a lot of action in the screenplay, it definitely creates a unique atmosphere of European experimental filmmaking. Through long pauses, a plethora of cigarette smoke and so on, it creates a visual approach that will be a reflection of mid 60s. There are also a lot of important technical notes in the screenplay, which adds more layers to the aesthetic of it.

The story itself is simple yet deep and extremely relatable. By repeating same scene at a different time and age, Katherine shows immense desire of a main character to relieve herself from pain. Dialogs with a sculpture is also a very vivid yet profound imagery of trying to find answers where they will never be found. Outstanding.

Overall, this is a great example of how a simple, yet impactful imagery can be achieved within a short period of time on the screen. Although it is more of an experimental film art piece, there is more life in it comparing to many other feature films. Best of luck to Katherine to execute such great, rare and full of emotions idea.

Official Selection January - February 2023 Program
Written by: Katherine Schimmel
“Pandemic: Chaos is Bleeding” by Cynthia Fridsma is a very experimental film in a plethora of ways. From the story to the visual approach, it is full of unorthodox approaches that create unique atmosphere, which is rare and exciting.

The visual approach used in Pandemic is surprisingly unique. Although 3D animation is not new, Pandemic differs to other examples of films used such technology. Being independent and pretty low budget for such projects, it creates unique atmosphere of retro video games of 2000s. Having similar flaws to video games’ engines used at that time, it does not make it worse, rather adding more aesthetic to the film. Which is exciting; whether was it done on purpose or not, it defines the motion picture and makes it stand out.

Unfortunately, there is an important flaw, which is the story. Although it is full of surprises and definitely unusual, combining vampires to actual events happened few years ago in the US, the dramaturgy lacks rhythm and coherency. Certain scenes are too focused on events that can be told in a shorter amount of time, in order to focus on the main character.

Nevertheless, this is a very interesting motion picture film. I believe if Cynthia would analyze few flaws the film has, she can achieve incredible results with such approach. It is exciting to see independent filmmakers having an opportunity to express themselves with tools that are accessible.

Pandemic : Chaos is Bleeding
Directed by: Cynthia Fridsma
On Halloween night, a young woman in a bright green skeleton hoodie, Claire, blasts music to tune out the world around her as she carves a yellow squash into a substitute jack-'o'-lantern. She's interrupted by an unexpected guest at the side door of her house. It's Trina, a close, longtime, childhood friend of both Claire and her recently deceased brother Mark.
Trina is visibly furious. She insists that Claire tell her what was said the night before when the two were out drinking with Trina's girlfriend Jess. We quickly learn that, in Claire's drunken haze, she not only confessed long-suppressed and deep romantic feelings for Trina, but chose Trina's live-in girlfriend Jess as her confidant--a choice that did not go well. In a confused and conflicted state, Trina demands answers. And despite the Halloween related interruptions giving brief reprieves, Claire ultimately confesses.
Everything is out. Nothing can be taken back. And now, because of the way things came out, there's a good chance that Trina and Claire will both face yet another big loss in their lives. The film closes on Claire and Trina separately coping with the prospect of losing their friendship. Trina watches a discouraged group of Trick-or-treating kids leave Claire's front door, kicking an empty candy bucket and unintentionally abandoning a single Halloween mask. Claire sits on the floor of her kitchen crying at the mess she's made, both in the situation and literally surrounding her.
As it fades to black, we hear a final ambiguous knock at the front door, leaving the audience with the same uncertainty of outcome, and subtle painful hope and doubt, that we all have when sharing feelings we'd rather keep hidden, as well as the reality that no matter how things turn out, life is better, warmer, and more colorful without masks.

Walking in the Wrong Direction
Directed by: Lisa Singletary
Walking in the Wrong Direction
“Walking in the Wrong Direction” by Lisa Singletary tells a short yet cohesive story about revealing feelings and how pivotal it could be. Although it is fully based entirely with a single dialog, there are few key points that add layers to it.

First of all, there is a lot of imagery in the film. It is great how the director used surroundings to benefit the story: the kitchen, candy, children’s masks, Halloween - each one of these represent a certain metaphor to the conversation main characters have. It is an incredible skill for a film artist to use environment, even such a simple one as kitchen in a regular house, to add more layers to the story.

Although, there is one crucial image missing from the story: one of the characters talks about swings and watching a distant star, and this image has no exposition. It would be extremely beneficial for the film since audience watch primary a single location throughout the film.

Another important point to not is acting. Both actresses execute their characters well: each one of them portrays and particular behavior, which changes subtly throughout the conversation yet stays within the character. There is definitely chemistry between the two, and it progresses as the plot.

Overall, this is a great portrayal of people’s struggles in expressing their feelings. Although technically it is not the finest job, it tells an honest, modest, and young story that’s easy to be relatable.
An agoraphobic painter reflects on an old white lie his mother told him as a child.

A Tiger in the Subway
Directed by: James Abrams
The Night Before the Wedding

“A Tiger in the Subway” by James Abrams is an intricate, unorthodox, and deeply psychological short feature thriller that opens the discussion of consequences of living in big cities. Through complicated inner dialog of a main character audience witness mental struggles people go through while trying to survive places like New York, Tokyo, Shanghai, or any other city that’s full of vice, money and crime.

It is worth noting how scenes present the mindset pretty much without dialogs: by presenting ideas and thoughts through inner monologue and by focusing on images of a frame audience member can naturally feel the mindset James is trying to present. Sometimes, frame, location and set can tell more than words, and it is inspiring.

Cast is another crucial aspect of such work: since there are not many dialogs, everything has to be acted through faces and body movements. Actors of A Tiger in the Subway execute such job perfectly: there is no cheesy notes in their play. Great job.

However, few things felt a little bit off. For example, the amount of music used in the film is over overwhelming: it fills every sonic hole and, by hearing constantly music, a viewer can lose the tension the filmmaker creates. Also, the plot, probably intentionally, feels going non-linear; furthermore, it confuses the viewer from time to time. Although it might not be a negative aspect, it is something worth noting. Even if the story can be confusing, it may also be a little bit more coherent.

Overall, I believe "A Tiger in the Subway" is a great example of independent filmmaking with unique approach and a statement that can inspire audience to discuss many aspects of existence. Despite some flaws, it is well executed, psychological and thrilling piece that shows James Abrams’ maturity in filmmaking.
The eve of the wedding ceremony was full of wind and rain. In the early hours of the morning, the bride Chen Yu woke up from a nightmare. The groom, Jia Ming, accompanied and comforted her.At night, the two were whispering on their pillows. Unexpectedly, during the chat, the groom Jiaming inadvertently recounted a dusty past. At the same time,Unknowingly, the two of them are revealed to each other, deep in their hearts, an unspeakable shocking secret...

Official Selection (Season 5)

The Night Before the Wedding
Directed by: Archie 
The Night Before the Wedding

“The Night Before Wedding” by Archie is an incredible, full of emotional layers, love thriller that creates tension by people discussing their past and how their past chases them after. There is so many layers, movement, and thrill in the film. Let’s discuss few major points.

First off, it is incredibly executed in terms of a plot. The story goes pretty much linear, and exposition is done perfectly. It is a great example of how stories can be simple to tell yet be so dramatic and exciting. The development of a story is great, as well as the ending. Audience could not possibly get bored at any second of a film: it becomes a rollercoaster for the viewer. Incredible.

Technically, it is as top shelf quality as the story. Despite overused effect of lowering the frame rate of some shots, camera work is incredible, memorable, and authentic. Colors used in sets, locations and in small details create a complete work of art that fits perfectly with the story and its progression. Certain shots are stuck in my mind for a long time. Sound, the quality and amount of music in the film, everything fits within the story as it should be. This is a great example of incredible direction.

Acting is gorgeous. Smooth, natural, and realistic, all actors live their characters through each frame, there was not a single movement of characters that can be questioned. Main characters show a lot of layers of depth by interacting with each other.

Also, important to point out all locations and how the story is developed in terms of dramaturgy. Every moment has its meaning and placed where it should be, every line has a reason behind it.

Archie is not just an ordinary filmmaker: he can give birth to something outstanding and unique. I personally watched “The Night Before The Wedding” two times, and wish I had more spare time to watch it again. Archie deserves all achievements great filmmakers can get.
A young, psych ward gadfly-poet sets on a mission to stop her doctor who tests women with a date-rape drug.

Official Selection (Season 5)

Written by: Brian Spellman

“Just Like You” by Brian Spellman is very topical, blunt yet emotional and relatable script revolving many topics, including pharmaceutical problem in United States, drug addiction and people’s desire to success. This could be a very controversial but motivational film that will elaborate Brian’s ideas through the plot.

One of the most important aspects of a script placed in modern era is authenticity. It is crucial for characters speak the way people speak, act, and react today. “Just Like You” has like no other: at certain parts of a scripts, it feels like it is not fictional but documented dialogs.

Same thing can be told about characters of the script: each one of them feel natural and present, there is not a single caricature in it. Although few characters are exaggerated, those characters are placed correctly, since we, as modern society, live in a very exaggerated times.

Topics of the script are important, and vital to discuss: modern-day America, despite a lot of positive aspects, has many flaws, including drug addiction and pharmaceutical system, which make some people get hooked on medicine. With such story, it can help others to understand, relate and realize such problems and come up with solutions at least on a human level.

In my opinion, “Just Like You” is a kind of a film that are in need in our times. It is an amazing opportunity to express artists through present problems, therefore, it might affect some people to be empathetic. Which is what art is supposed to do.
The Gap Between Her Legs is an experimental story about love and loss. It takes place both inside the theatre, and the real world. Bulimic girl Bella Corriveau heists from Montreal to Vancouver, with the savings of her dad's bank account. Over a latte at a French cafe on Main, she starts a love affair with anorexic girl Ivanka Jiang, a Harvard Lawyer top honours graduate.

Official Selection (Season 4)

The Gap Between Her Legs
Directed by: Betty Jiang
The Gap Between Her Legs

"The Gap Between Her Legs" by Betty Jiang is an experimental film that blurs the line between theater and film. Through dialogs of the film, Jiang reflects on love and pain, as well as abusive relationship between people.

The film is shot in a very unorthodox way: having no exposition or wide shots, it is mostly close ups of people’s dialogs. It is amazing how a story can be told through conversations and people interacting with each other. Besides that, the entire film made with amateur style of shooting, which brings a very intense feeling to the entire film.

It is also worth noting how Jiang uses details shots of objects. Throughout a plethora of scenes, dialog shots are edited along details, which bring symbolism to the script. It reminds me of experimental films of the beginning of the 20th century, in which dramaturgy was put to the test through intense editing and broken continuity.

The film also has a mockumentary atmosphere through approach of shooting: with no stabilization, doing unorthodox angles and having shots filmed on different locations within a single scene, it adds a layer of intentionally amateur style to the film. Although it is very nonconformism approach, it seems lacking of quality may confuse the audience at some scenes.

Acting is very subtle, yet profound: main characters change throughout the story, and their reactions changes along with it. I am convinced actors felt their characters and make them alive. I am pretty sure if some of the shots were wider, audience would be able to see actor’s movements and it would bring more depth into their work.

Despite having flaws, it is experimental and exciting film to watch. It makes audience do the work as well, and it touches something we all are interested in. I am pretty sure if Betty Jiang would continue to master such style, it would bring unbelievable results.
"Party? Do we have to do that now?" "Yes!" says Alexander Dettke.
In 2013, he and his team founded the music and culture festival "Wilde Möhre" in Lusatia. A space that makes encounters possible without the conventions of everyday life. It's not just about dancing and partying. It's about a place that inspires change.
Due the pandemic, this cultural experiment is about to come to an end. But Alex doesn't think so...
Patrick Protz and Dennis Groß accompanied Alexander Dettke and his team from the first lockdown in spring 2020 until summer 2021. A time full of uncertainties, extraordinary encounters and many thoughts about the value that music, dance and culture has for all of us - on carefree but even more on gloomy days.

Official Selection (Season 4)

Wilde Zeiten - No mask no party
Directed by: Patrick Protz and Dennis Groß
Wilde Zeiten - No mask no party

“No mask no party” is a 2022 documentary film by Patrick Protz and Dennis Groß about the production of Wilde Möhre music festival during the pandemic. The film follows many aspects of putting together a festival, as well as documents a plethora of interviews with people who participates in it. From musicians to production assistants and visitors, the audience witness’s unity a lot of people under the concept of joy and happiness.

The film also touches on people’s desire to create freedom space for the audience while everybody was caged at home during the pandemic. It is inspiring to see people do not give up on their ideas and plans at such difficult times, but rather work with the situation to help people enjoy themselves even with masks on.

The film does not have a very distinguished narrative; it is focused on people and their thoughts/emotions regarding the process. Throughout several interviews, audience dives into the production, participation, and outcome of the festival. Although having a definitive story would be beneficial for the film, I believe filmmakers’ intention was not to tell an outlined story but to document people, culture, and times they live in. The film brings atmosphere of Berlin rave culture that has been extremely popular for many years. The soundtrack of the film helps the audience to be closer to the culture: from ambient transitions to uptempo techno-like beats, it adds another layer of portraying modern European culture that can be seen in the documentary.

It is important to document such cultural movements so it can be analyzed and studied after. The film, in my opinion, has no intention to question opinions or thoughts, but to show unique culture that has been evolving around us. No mask no party can be the documentary people would watch in the future the same way we watch documentaries from the beginning of the 20th century.
Two US Marines are trapped behind enemy lines with vague mission objectives and an even more mysterious package...

Official Selection (Season 1)

Black Bag
Directed by: Lee Foster
Black Bag
War has always been a weapon of higher power to prove themselves right or just to amuse themselves. The real harm is being made to people. The stories of suffering civilians are told by media, writers or just direct witnesses. While most of the times the stories about members of armed forces can not be told due to different reasons.
This short movie depicts events of two man tracking a mysterious black suitcase. There is no information about the content of that suitcase and it is not needed as these two are just do their duty without a question. The thing is that they expect the help from their superiors as they are trapped and surrounded by the enemy. And the help comes, it is just not what they expected.
This short movie brings up a theme of government secrets and its’ reputation. There is nothing these people wouldn’t do to protect themselves, they are ready to sacrifice their best men, the citizens of their country. Unfortunately, armed forces are pawns in the game of upper officials. How many secrets our countries keep that we will never know of? How many stories of people killed by their own land we will never hear?
The director choses little room of a basement to show that these marines are trapped. Trapped and surrounded not just by their enemies, but by their government too. The shots are taken from the low angle to demonstrate the little power they have over current situation. Sometimes shots are taken from the level of the eyes, as if the viewer is also in this basement.
Actors had little room to perform but they managed to show anxiety, stress and confusion in time of ten minutes. They mostly used their voices which is expressive. As it was said the director’s statement this short can be used as an opening to the full movies as it has a hook to the whole plot.
Portrait film about Lajos J. Takács who left Hungary in 1970. He settled in Sweden and there he founded the Layota Art Studio which provided scholarships to more than hundred Hungarian artists. At a time when Hungarian artists could not enter the world because of the Iron Curtain. It was a one-man revolution against communism at the time. After his return to Hungary in 1990. he compiled a book that collected the works created within the Szentendre-based Lajos Vajda Studio, and also he was the creator of the art project called A Subway Train Emerging from the Ground located in Csákberény. His personality, and peculiar philosophy, his diversified interest and constant desire for freedom through his love of his homeland created a continously expanding huge oeuvre that is important not only for Hungarian society. The film set out to show that.

Official Selection (Season 2)

The eternal asker
Directed by: Ernő Nagy
The eternal asker
So many people are trying to make this world better, fair, and equal for all. There are a huge number of stories from all over the world when people who are not indifferent to their homeland try to change the outdated and unfair principles of the state, which are harmful to art, education, and life in general. It is one of these stories that Ernõ Nagy undertakes to tell, introducing us to an inconspicuous but outstanding personality - Lajos J. Takács, who managed to influence more than a hundred destinies of various Hungarian artists.

How did he do it? Perhaps the answer to this question is best learned by watching a quality documentary project “The eternal asker”. Documentary films are not a cinema format but are an important part of the film world in general. There are many different stories from different parts of the world that deserve to be heard, and it is projects such as “The eternal asker” that help people see that in this world, heroes do not wear capes.

Ernõ has created a technically modern documentary that looks interesting, because it is not an "interview" format, and we have the opportunity not only to hear the story from the mouth of the protagonist, but also to observe his movements and his hysterical objects. The constant change of locations makes this documentary work more dynamic, and therefore more accessible to impatient viewers who prefer dynamic scenes over static ones. I would like to note the quality work in all technical aspects: sound design, editing, color editing and camera work.

 In addition to getting to know the main character of the film, we get the opportunity to walk with him through the streets of the Hungarian town and get to know the culture of this country better. “The eternal asker” doesn't look flashy, but it can surely be considered as a quality work. A historical documentary project that tells us one of the million "inconspicuous" stories that have greatly influenced the fate of many people.
The World Cruzer travels through a future of nature pollution and climate chaos. Mankind is organized more democratically fighting for the survival of their own species. We share moments of insights with the World Cruzer on his mission to save the planet. His crew supports him with familiar voices, speaking about the many facets of being human. A modern movie with contemporary electronic music from Berlin clubs. It wants to change our point of view and to call upon mankind to find a global agreement - a new common sense pact.

The World Cruzer
Directed by: Yorick Niess
The World Cruzer

Yorick Niess gave us a very original, experimental, and specific work. His feature film “The World Cruzer” hardly fits into the “documentary” genre, at least it is definitely not a classic representative of this direction. Over 100 minutes of real psychedelia and digging into human perception. Yorick tells us his parable about how we can save our planet, and what awaits us if we do nothing to save the human species.

 “The World Cruzer” goes very far from the classic documentary work, towards a large experimental project that will not appeal to everyone but will definitely stand out from the crowd. Yorick Niess quite successfully balances on the verge of complete psychedelia, diluting his crazy CGI attraction with fragments of real life. The mysterious protagonist leads the viewer through a dizzying adventure, realized with the help of very good CGI, periodically returning us to the real world, in which we can observe everything that humanity can achieve or, on the contrary, lose.

I would like to note the very high-quality editing, which is a key aspect here, because the work is a huge number of different fragments combined into a single picture. Unusual, but extremely aesthetic visuals are well complemented by equally unusual music that comes from various Berlin clubs.

Of course, “The World Cruzer” is a very arthouse work. Such films are not always able to bring the viewer what he is looking for, but not every person is ready to take care of our planet.

Perhaps Yorick's work will be able to awaken in someone the desire to change their attitude to the environment in the first place, and then push others to do the same, or perhaps such a psychedelic format will simply seem insane, and the viewer will spit. However, the key factor is that "The World Cruzer" will not leave the viewer indifferent. This format of cinema evokes emotions, which means it makes a person more alive.
In late-1800s Europe, Oscar, a wealthy but lonely middle-aged man who has lived a decadent, extravagant life in a chateau filled with wine, courtesans and opium, confesses love to his gardener Jude before he dies of his excesses.

Award Winner - Best Actor (Season 2)
Award Winner - Best Costume Design (Season 2)

For I Am Dead
Directed by: Patricia Delso Lucas
For I Am Dead
In the second season, we were lucky to enjoy the work of Patricia Delco Lucas, which sends us back to the late years of the 19th century to tell the story of the extravagant, eccentric, and insolent Oscar, who hides his true nature behind courtesans, opium and wine.

The film's strongest quality is clearly Al Nazemian's performance as the protagonist Oscar and Riggsby Lane, who portrays the young gardener Jude, who unexpectedly becomes his employer's love interest. A big nod to Patricia Delso Lucas, who was able to create interesting and quite deep characters within a limited and small-time frame.

Patricia brings up one of the most discussed topics of the 21st century, which has many points of view. “For I Am Dead” tells a deeply emotional story about not accepting yourself. What can self-deception and denial of one's nature lead to? I guess it might be crazy. Al Nazemian, through a huge range of emotions and excellent acting talent, demonstrates the destruction of the consciousness of a person who has and at the same time has nothing. Riggsby Lane perfectly complements this story with the image of a shy gardener who is forced to indulge the unexpected impulses of his "patron".

All in all, “For I Am Dead” is a movie with no weak points in its ampoule. Technically, Patricia's work looks and sounds flawless, good work in all aspects: editing, color grading, sound, etc. The good work of stylists and costume designers helps the viewer to move to the 19th century, and the chosen location for filming, in the form of a huge castle, leaves no doubt about the quality of the picture.

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