From Island to Archipelago
A growing phenomenon is that movies and film festivals are becoming a battleground for various ideological viewpoints. This year we have witnessed too many debates surrounding movies: images reflect a reality that is extremely fragmented and even difficult to talk to; on the other hand, the "reality" we understand is increasingly surrounded and shaped by ubiquitous images.
How do we watch short films? This question does not ask the way of viewing but the expectations of viewing and the standards of judgment. Compared with feature films, it is more difficult for people to reach a consensus on a short film: not only because short films have more diverse forms, but also because audiences have particularly different expectations for short films. What the film festival does is not only to select outstanding works of the year, but also to continue to dialogue with the audience through the action of screening and viewing, and to reshape people's expectations for short films and images.
Maybe we can compare short films to islands. Outside of the mainland of contemporary Chinese film dominated by casts, box office, and mainstream narratives, short films are like tiny islands, trying to create unique landscapes and worlds in their own way. Any energetic creation is a statement with intention: through these works of various shapes, we can identify how individual creators respond to the shocking era we are living in.
The imprint of the times may first appear in a batch of "post-pandemic" images: "Roller Coaster" (Chen Xinyan, Zhang Jingchen), "Memories of the Yellow River" (Shang Ji), and "Sojourn To Shangri-la" (Lin Yihan) all tried to use metaphors to reflect the chaos of reality and the collapse of order, revealing a certain truth; "On Another's Sorrow" (Yan Haoxuan) and "A Year Apart" (Qin Hai) represent a batch of "grief work" that suddenly emerged in the post-epidemic period. "(grief work), deals with the old and new problem of how people deal with the pain of bereavement. "Guilin Clown" (Tao Lihai), "Half Time" (Zhang Yaoyuan), and "When a Rocket Sits on the Launch Pad" (Liu Boyao) touch on individual situations, struggles, and choices under class, nationality, and gender identity to varying degrees, a kind of care for people; there are also works that choose the opposite path, trying to deconstruct the central position of human beings as the scale of all things: "Ginkgo And Other Times" (Tang Han) is an archeology of the ginkgo from a natural and cultural perspective, removing the human-centered narrative to convey an alternative sense of time. "Wind Blows the Greenhouse" (Yu Zhe) is a gaze at the ruins of a large tropical greenhouse. How nature "takes back" the space after humans’ retreat.
The central position of visual images in contemporary society and the disruptive development of digital media and artificial intelligence have made it urgent to reflect on image culture: "How to Imagine the Unimaginable" (Liu Guangli, Chen Zirui) starts from personal experience, A database-like archaeological journey into dinosaur images reflects the complex relationship between imagination, images, capital, and technology. "The Elephant Vanishes" (Ran Chuxun) is a game about language and images, signifier and signified, and reveals the material conditions for creating images. "Tunnel Wandering" (Li Zehao) returns to classical cyanotype photography to examine the relationship between image and truth, visible and invisible. "14 Paintings" (Chen Dongnan) juxtaposes interviews with painters from Dafen Village, paintings, and the spaces in which they are displayed. The production, viewing, and consumption of images are all included in it.
Works focusing on women’s identity experience are still eye-catching and highlight the creativity of female directors: "The Tomato Girl" (Guo Xinying) presents the relationship between women’s self-identity and others’ expectations through a mix of records, performances, animations, and other forms. The tension between the two, and the imaginative creation itself constitutes the revelation of the problem and is also a self-healing; "Her Times" (Kanako Yai) uses several life fragments of a waitress in a cafe to capture daily boredom and fantasy. and the moment of enlightenment; "It's Dance Time" (Li Qiushu) is two girls whispering and daydreaming in the school’s group dance between classes. In the three works, fantasy becomes a momentary escape for women from the banal, and also indicates the possibility of establishing a new self-identity.
Creations about family are never absent, and span multiple genres such as experimentation, documentation, and fiction, becoming more and more diverse: "A Throwing Forth" (Zhang Xiao) uses the flicker of light and the flow of light and shade to suggest the ambiguity and erraticness of memory. Old family photos are like echoes from the past; "Upon that River" (Zhang Jinghao) juxtaposes personal oral history with gazes on family photos and Zhijiang scenery, using the river as a clue to salvage fragments of family history; In "All About Shaochang" (Xu Peiyao), a family gets to know each other again while tenderly looking back at the deceased, making us realize once again that the meaning of creation not only lies in the final text, but also in the process itself.
"Take Me To New Zealand" (Wang Yifei, Wu Yifei) starts from the common narrative of young directors making films but with an unexpected description, and it finally falls into the little secrets of the characters' hearts. It is light, funny and cute. "No Place For Old Men" (Ju Kin-on Chu) was created in the rich soil of Hong Kong genre films, incorporating elements of comedy, horror, and warmth in just 20 minutes. "Performance" (Jinjiang) uses two long shots to form a contrasting montage of life. This work, which the creator calls "picked up", becomes an attempt in the form of a documentary short film.
In the end, these 23 short films from the BISFF2023 Chinese Short Film Competition constitute an archipelago, an interconnected and jointly constructed island space: each island has an independent ecology; all the islands are interconnected with each other, forming a larger ecosystem, and jointly presenting the Chinese short film creation.
Archipelago is a way of display and an adventurous viewing experience.
银杏和其它时间｜Ginkgo And Other Times
2023｜00:15:00｜Germany, English｜世界首映 World Premiere
如何想象不可想象之物｜How to Imagine the Unimaginable
2023｜00:23:23｜China Spanish, Castilian, Chinese Mandarin ｜世界首映 World Premiere
风吹小三亚｜Wind Blows the Greenhouse
2023｜00:19:45｜China｜No Dialogue ｜世界首映 World Premiere
2023｜00:43:38｜China ｜Chinese Dialect, Chinese Mandarin｜世界首映 World Premiere
马桶，断指，新西兰｜Take Me To New Zealand
2023｜00:29:02｜China｜Chinese Mandarin, Cantonese｜世界首映 World Premiere
少昌｜All About Shaochang
2023｜00:25:07｜China｜Chinese Dialect｜世界首映 World Premiere
海都是海｜The Tomato Girl
2023｜00:26:11｜Chinese Mandarin｜国际首映 International Premiere
热河｜Memories of the yellow river
2023｜00:18:33｜China｜Chinese Mandarin｜国际首映 International Premiere、
象的失踪｜The Elephant Vanishes
2022｜00:16:21｜France｜Thai｜国际首映 International Premiere
2022｜00:08:54｜China｜Chinese Mandarin｜亚洲首映 Asia Premiere
2023｜00:14:17｜China｜Chinese Mandarin｜亚洲首映 Asia Premiere
火箭发射时｜When a Rocket Sits on the Launch Pad
2023｜00:12:00｜China, USA｜Chinese Mandarin, Sichuan Yi; Nuosu｜中国大陆首映 Chinese Mainland Premiere
之江｜Upon that River
2023｜00:28:44｜China｜Chinese Mandarin｜亚洲首映 Asia Premiere
收楼的决心｜No Place For Old Men
2023｜00:20:00｜Cantonese, English｜中国大陆首映 Chinese Mainland Premiere
投掷｜A Throwing Forth
2023｜00:06:04USA, China｜Cantonese｜中国大陆首映 Chinese Mainland Premiere
2023｜00:24:22｜China｜Chinese Mandarin, Chinese Dialect
送行｜On Another's Sorrow
2022｜00:32:06｜Chinese Mandarin, Chinese Dialect｜中国大陆首映 Chinese Mainland Premiere
是日访古｜Sojourn To Shangri-la
2022｜00:21:40｜China｜Chinese Mandarin｜中国大陆首映 Chinese Mainland Premiere
2023｜00:30:00｜Japan, China｜Chinese Mandarin, Japanese
这是跳舞的时刻｜It's Dance Time
2023｜00:04:12｜United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland｜English
新年旧日｜A Year Apart
Japan, China｜Chinese Mandarin